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Entries in UAE (2)

Cultural Diversity Day

1047435-863915-thumbnail.jpg Dubai redefines the term “melting pot”. Every race, shape, color, creed, and breed are represented by a trip to the mall. Which is primarily what there is to do here since it is 110 degrees. And since this entire city is brand new with no history or museums – not that I’d go to them anyways. Standing in the 45 minute long taxi line to get a cab back from the mall to the hotel on Saturday night, I couldn’t believe how many different nationalities were in one place. Only 30 percent of the population are “locals”, the rest are workers that come from all corners of the world to try to cash in on the development boom going on here. And what a boom it is – there are more cranes in Dubai than everywhere else in the world combined. Entire skylines are being erected all across the desert. It’s like Las Vegas meets Scottsdale with a bottle – no case - of steroids added to the mix.

1047435-863977-thumbnail.jpgAs I said, there’s not a ton to do here. Besides shopping that rivals even Singapore. The Emirates has taken the concept of shopping mall to a whole new level. We went to the largest mall in the eastern hemisphere, which has an actual ski slope inside of it. And I don’t mean a bunny slope. This thing is the real deal, chairlift and all. It also had a Carrefour in it that makes Walmart – even a Super Walmart – look like a little boutique shop. It’s like a Walmart swallowed a Costco and then gave birth to a Sam’s Club all under one roof.

1047435-863917-thumbnail.jpgIt’s a strange mix here of Islamic and Western values. Restaurants are separated into four sections: smoking and non-smoking, drinking and non-drinking. If you choose to down the booze, it is generally done on the other side of a black curtain. There are also lots of men walking around in the full white robe getup, complete with black clad harems of women in tow. This is an idea I would like to explore further, but I have been assured by Joy that will not be happening, even though I do look Arab.

Our hotel is also pretty interesting. It’s not your average Park Hyatt. It’s a sprawling compound straddling the “creek” that separates the two halves of the city. I don’t understand why it is called a creek since it’s larger than most rivers and has a yacht club that could harbor a cruise ship, but that’s what they call it. Check out the video of us walking to our hotel room. It’s officially the longest video clip we have ever uploaded.

Arabian Adventures Desert Safari

1047435-868020-thumbnail.jpgThere is no doubt that the desert safari is a classic activity that must be enjoyed while in Dubai. Yes, it’s tailored for the traveler, but certainly gives you a good perspective of the arid region at the same time mixing in some of the schmaltzy touristy stuff that we secretly all love.

The adventure got off to a very slow start when our “no personality” driver picked us up from the hotel in our 4 x 4, and literally didn’t say one word for the 45 minute ride to the “safari site”. We had no idea where we were going, how long it’d take, nothing. And to top it off, the other 4 passengers in the car didn’t say anything – kind of that weird awkward silence, where at a certain point it would be even more uncomfortable to break the quiet and say something.

When we arrived to the edge of the vast desert land our driver took some air out of the SUV’s tires, since clearly we were about to get down and dirty with 4 wheeling it on the dunes. It was a blast high tailing it up and down the sand dunes, coming very close at times to either tipping over or getting stuck in the sand (we saw a bunch of stalled cars stuck in the sand) – it was an absolute thrill. Jason and I were even the lucky recipients of the back seat where you could especially feel every bump magnified – definite sore on our tush’s.

We made some scenic stops along the journey to take in the grandeur of the barren region, as well check out some camels, and my favorite was watching the sun slowly set over the desert. This funny couple was really into taking our picture as the sun set, so we got some killer pictures of us as they directed us to pose in silhouette positions – it was kind of strange, but all we cared about was getting a good picture.

1047435-868019-thumbnail.jpgThe final destination of the safari was to a campsite setup literally in the middle of the desert. Here, we got to ride a camel, although we basically just went around in a circle in a little area (this was more about the photo op!). When we entered into the actual interior of the site, it was amazing to see the sprawl of carpets and pillows blanketing the sand, which is where we enjoyed a delicious traditional Arabic dinner. We also got to smoke the hookah underneath the stars in the open desert –that certainly hasn’t happened often in our lives. Lastly, we enjoyed an amazing performance of a belly-dancer who was absolutely incredible, pulling off some very unique moves. It was certainly an action packed evening that will be emblazoned in our minds.