We’ve been in Dubai for 48 hours and already we have seen so much. I knew this was a place of many contrasts but you really do have to see it for yourself. The weather is perfect mid-20s and not horridly humid and stormy like the Sydney I left behind! And it has been nice to put right some slightly skewed preconceptions I may have had.
Our first day started, appropriately, with a delicious lunch at the not-for-profit Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where their motto is ‘open doors, open minds’. We sat round on floor cushions and shared a traditional meal, complete with deep-fried dough balls and date syrup, and Arabic coffee with cardamom. So far, Dubai food is not disappointing my love for spice! It was a chance to openly ask questions about Emirati and Muslim culture. Our host Sheik Nasif welcomed us to ask questions without fear of causing offence and was keen to highlight that Arabic men are not misogynists and a little about why women (not their husbands!) choose to wear abayas. Although I think it is a small minority of uneducated or ignorant Australians who might believe all Muslims are terrorists, I do feel for this religion and culture which sometimes suffers such misunderstanding, especially in the light of recent world events. If you’re visiting Dubai, I thoroughly recommend this informative and entertaining experience. It certainly made me feel Dubai is more forward-thinking than I had thought.
After our lunch, we discovered the Old Town, not that there’s a huge amount of it, but it was charming nonetheless. Of course I got lost in the maze of side streets in the historic district of Bastakiya, which all looked alarmingly similar (that’s my excuse anyway!). We crowded around the windows at the gold souk and checked out colourful beaded textiles and silks and sacks upon sacks of aromatic spices (if only Australian Customs would let us bring those home!). To get home, we had to take an abra (water taxi) to cross the water. This is a normal form of public transport, not just something for tourists like us. In the evening, we had dinner at the super swish new China Grill restaurant at the impressive Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi. I’ve eaten at my fair share of fabulous Sydney restaurants and this gave them a run for their money in décor, food and service. Delicious!
Day two was all about the flash, new and modern! We started with a trip to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. It’s kinda tall. As in so tall you can’t really get your head around it and it’s best not to over think it as you take the 60-second elevator ride to the 142nd floor, ears popping! Great view from the top, but I personally prefer this impressive piece of architecture from the outside. It really is quite something and you can see it from everywhere it seems! Wowsers.
We spent hours (and really you could spend days) checking out The Dubai Mall (world’s largest, of course, this is Dubai!). There’s not just shops but the aquarium, indoor zoo (complete with Aussie croc), KidZania and SegaRepublic.
My experience of Dubai so far has been great, the people friendly and my hotel (more on that in a future post) amazing. I’m having a ball!
Anyway, plenty more great experiences coming up which I’ll be sharing with you soon, including a food tour, desert safari, afternoon tea, the Jumeirah Mosque and the pearl museum. What an adventure I’m having with the baby bump!