Vision is a wonderful thing! There is a vast expanse of desert that meets the Arabian Gulf, a small creek, and date palms. Temperatures top out in the 120’s during the summer months. Bedouins live in mud and coral built buildings with a type of air conditioning in the form of wind towers. They fish, dive for pearls, use their camels as a mode of transport, the hair to make tents, and for milk and meat and it is a place for trading.
In 1958 Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum had a vision and was responsible for transforming Dubai from a small cluster of settlements near the Dubai Creek to a modern port city and commercial hub. His famous line, “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel” reflected his concern that the black liquid gold, discovered in 1966, was a limited commodity and would run out within a few generations. His vision and ideas helped to develop a Dubai that could survive after the end of oil production, and was the driving force behind major infrastructure projects to create the new Dubai that is a commercial hub and tourist destination today. He ruled for 32 years and now one of his sons, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has taken the reins (since 2006) and has launched Dubai into another phase of phenomenal growth. In the space of 50 years, from this desert landscape a glass and concrete metropolis has sprung.
Dubai is home to only 25% Arabs and the rest are a melting pot from all the remaining continents. Job opportunities abound and people live side by side in seeming harmony. From the most magnificent and tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and the many other artistically designed skyscraper buildings to the Arab inspired sand colored structures and beautiful mosques, the place is inspiring. Construction continues at a rapid pace and the city is spreading along the waterfront and into the desert. Cranes that appear to reach to the sky dot the landscape. And then there are the man made islands – Palm Islands – built so that each frond provides waterfront real estate! “The World” islands, and another larger set of islands in the design of a palm tree are still a work in progress.
The ascent to the 124th floor of the kilometer high Burj Khalifa was an amazing experience. Once the elevator doors closed there was no sensation of movement -other than popping ears – until less than ONE minute later the doors opened.
Mass transport ranges from the shiny and spotless decade old metro/tram rail system that takes you from one end of the city to the other; a network of buses with their air conditioned bus stop shelters; and my favorite – the abras – small wooden vessels that criss-cross the creek for one dirham a ride!
Khor Dubai – the creek, where the original settlement was, is now being extended and will join the gulf near Jumairah and the Palm Islands, creating an island upon which central Dubai will sit. The fort, built in 1787, and the original home of the royal family, along with other historic buildings, are part of the Dubai Museum and Heritage Village. Dhows lining the quayside are are loaded up with boxes of all things imaginable to be transported into the Gulf and onto the seas.
I can’t leave out the shopping opportunities in “do-buy”!!! Malls like you’ve never seen before with themes, ski-slopes, designer shops galore, and on and on it goes! Souks that sell spices, gold, cheap knock-off Rolex watches, frankincense, fabric and fabric – beautiful lush silks and embroidered materials with tailors ready to create beautiful and elegant dresses and saris – and much, much more.
More sights around Dubai!