DUBAI - 828 meters above the desert

Wed, 11/11/2015
We heard2 a lot about Dubai. In only 40 years it has gone through a long and fantastic journey to transform from a desert into a city with high skyscrapers, the biggest shopping center Dubai Mall and 7 star hotels. A lot of our acquaintances run their businesses there, and practically everyone we know went there for their holidays. But it took us a while to decide on going; for some reason we weren’t quite attracted. We’ve seen skyscrapers in New York, we’ve been to beautiful beaches in Asia and Miami and as for shopping, Europe is just perfect for that.
 
And so the day has come when all the stars lined up to point at Dubai. We were invited to an annual fashion event Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience 2015 and we had no reason to refuse.
 




A special “Thank you” goes to Emirates airline for the truly delightful experience during the flight! With such service we could fly even 15 hours or more.


Those who follow me on Instagram might have already read a lot about this trip from my posts marked under #fist_dubai on @evgenyfist account. Nevertheless, I’ll start my story from the very beginning. 
When we arrived at the airport it seemed as if we’ve moved along its territory for 10 kilometers, it took us at least 20 minutes to get from the plane to the terminal. The airport is huge!
I love arriving to new countries at night, because then I can get to know the city twice – first, in the lights of the night and second, during the daytime, which is twice as interesting. When I arrive somewhere for the first time I immediately start comparing it to some place that I’ve already been to and know it well enough. Dubai at night reminded me of Miami downtown and of Lincoln road (due to the twinkle lights all over palm trees and the numerous restaurants where everyone would be smoking hookah). It’s quite humid and hot, the air is filled with the sweet smell of fruit tobacco. Outdoor cafes are equipped with air conditioners for cooling the air outside. We met a lot of men wearing Kanduras and women in black Abayas (national clothes).




We stayed at Manzil Downtown hotel and as you may tell from its name it is situated in Downtown. I liked the night city even better, besides the air temperature is much more comfortable for roaming the streets in the evening. I was especially impressed by the futuristically designed street lamps and the paving stone on some sidewalks – they used floor tiles like the ones I have on my kitchen, all glazed. I guess when snowy days come, it will be a marvellous track for drifting. Another Dubai peculiarity is its dust.



According to all the rules of Eastern hospitality the cultural program for us was so intensive that we could barely keep up with the pace. But this is awesome, because we managed to see all the most interesting in only three days.



I have finally been to the desert. Mission completed! I believe that many have already been there a hundred times, but I will still share my experience, before the sand in my pants doesn’t make me forget anything. A little bit of desert is everywhere – in my ears, my hair, phone, pockets and sneakers!
Being a simple naïve Moscow boy, I imagined desert to be a bit more comfortable. You wander, take pictures, sand all around, vultures hovering the sky. A fairytale in one word. Besides I knew how to survive and how to get water in the desert thanks to Bear Grylls on Discovery channel.



But everything turned out to be more realistic. We changed from our minivan (we were travelling as a group of bloggers from Germany, Italy and Russia) to a cool open-shell Land Rover.




 
And here we are rushing through sandy barchans, but I still for some reason don’t feel like the Prince of Persia, more like Lenin when undergoing sandblasting.

 
 



So it was a bad idea to take off the headscarves that we were given earlier. We thought we needed to take photos, we’re bloggers after all, not Bedouins.
I loved looking at the desert pictures in books before, but in reality it is even more beautiful! A true must see! I experienced a load of positive emotions just like a child.



Due to the proximity of the desert in the city the house windows, the skyscrapers and shiny cars are all covered with dust.



When taking a picture and smiling, you inevitably get a mouthful of sand. The phone feels like sugar coated and the sand is literally in your eyes.




So sharing some advice. Those headscarves that they give you are not just a fancy accessory. The best choice of clothes would be: a T-shirt, flip-flops, shorts and a bag that closes tightly. I would also add goggles, but I’m afraid camels would laugh. As for me I did everything the opposite way and it was awesome! Don’t miss it!






After that we had a nice dinner in the same desert, but in a specially organized cozy place, where no dust or wind blew in. Very romantic. I can assure you that these were the best emotions from the whole trip. I would surely go on the same trip again, but in clothes more suitable for the occasion.



Desert driving in a jeep reminded me of the “FarCry” game, because the car cabin and graphics seemed alike, especially that the horizon was slightly diffused from the sand. The only difference is that the game took place in a jungle.



To tell you the truth, everything here reminds you of something, especially games.


 
Some streets looked like those from the “de_dust2” map in Counter Strike, others reminded of “The Prince of Persia” game. And note that I haven’t even tried the hookah yet. What do they add to the dates?





The next day we visited the highest building in the world, “Burj-Khalifa”, which is 828 meters high! It is amazing and everyone must see it. I instantly compare skyscrapers to New York. In NYC we were on top of the Rockefeller center “Top of the Rock”, which is only 259 meters, but we were much more impressed there. Firstly, New York is a rather old city with buildings standing wall to wall. Secondly, its sophisticated view seemed to us more epic. 



 
I think in 10 or 20 years the view from the “Burj-Khalifa” will be amazing, when the city turns into a huge metropolis. As for now, the view seems a little simple and empty for a height like that. I must be nagging or something.



We also visited the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, the old town, the gold bazaar and the spices and fabric markets. I quickly grew tired because everyone tried to sell me something, drag my attention, which I do not enjoy. I don’t like such interrogations into my walks, especially when I just want to walk in silence, take everything in and take pictures.







We used those “taxies” on water to get to the Golden market.





I don’t quite understand the love of gold, but I did take pictures of the bazaar and the shopwindow for the great fans of loaded luxury. On every corner you are offered “Rolex”, “Hublot” and other goodies.




On the other hand, I was really impressed by the variety of spices and “the Aladdin lamp”.






And of course we have attended some events of the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience 2015, which was held in the Dubai Mall.




Designers from Germany, UAE, UK, Saudi Arabia, the USA, China, Austria and Lebanon took part in the fashion shows. They demonstrated a lot of interesting models and showed a really great talent.




And that is said by a person who is basically interested only in guests attending the shows, Instagram feed, cameramen and lightning specialists rather than the fashion shows themselves and the models on runway. On one hand, there is no winner or loser at such events, but on the other hand, the winner is always obvious, because one can’t conceal the audience's reaction.

I don’t remember particular names and countries, and even the #VFDE2015 programme didn’t help to clear up the situation. But I know for sure that a Lebanese designer Krikor Jabotian was everyone’s favorite. His works weren’t this “fashion depression” style, but were really complex and feminine  pieces.




Important point! We found a Starbucks in Dubai! 



Look at this van!



After the desert and the “Burj-Khalifa” building the third place goes to the Dubai Mall shopping center. It is so big that I can’t even tell how huge it is, because it seemed to me that we moved around in the same area. Basically, one could book a room in “Armani” hotel, which is situated on the shopping center’s territory, and never leave the Dubai Mall. Taking today’s currency rate into account, shopping in Dubai is unreasonable. Even mass-market prices are three times higher. I bought some minor stuff and counted how much rubles I paid. I was shocked. I should have bought everything in TSUM in advance!
 


This is a huge swimming pool near the Dubai Mall.



I would like to mark out the high level restaurant service everywhere. Practically every cuisine is served on a high level, we’ve tried Japanese, French and Italian ones.
It is worth mentioning “Angelina” café in the Dubai Mall. Other names have slipped my memory.

Almost a year ago a tram like this was launched in Dubai. I think its primary function is decorative, as well as the secondary one!



Local Arabian coffee is worth mentioning. They add saffron and cardamom to it and serve it tiny cups like those for espresso. It is served practically everywhere and usually with dates. It doesn’t taste like the coffee we are used to, but we definitely liked it. Yana seldom drinks coffee at home, but here in the UAE she wouldn’t miss a chance to have a cup of the local one.

On our departure day we had only 3-4 hours to get from Downtown to the sea shore to see the Atlantis hotel on an artificial island Palma, Burj Al Arab Hotel and Dubai Marina.

This is “Burj Al Arab” hotel in the shape of a sail (below).







And this is the outermost point of Palma Island. I took a picture of the rocks that this island is made of. I once watched on Discovery channel the process of its construction. So this picture I took is for me personally.



It is difficult for me to make a conclusion about this trip, because I experienced a lot of emotions, but each of them is not settled in my heart because we had very little time to enjoy ourselves.
Local people have absolutely bewildered me, as well as the absence of criminality. Everyone was very polite, hospitable and positive, so we didn’t experience any negativity during our entire trip.

The only visible part of most local girls is the eyes, which are really beautiful, highlighted by dramatic Eastern makeup (it is not allowed to take pictures of them, so I passed on that).

Dubai Marina beach is on the photo below. As usual you can see in the distance something very huge being built. There’s a lot of construction going on and it’s practically everywhere.



So here is the list of must sees and to do things in case you decide to visit Dubai for the first time. The desert, Burj-Khalifa building, the Dubai Mall, try some local coffee with dates, the most delicious Patchi chocolate sweets in the world with a peanut filling, visit the old town and the markets, admire the dancing fountains, and after all that you may peacefully relax on the beach.
Dubai surpassed all our expectations, and I know for sure that this was not the last time we have been there. But I still have one question in my head. Why is Dubai so popular among tourists, and why do they prefer it to other very interesting cities? Looking forward to your comments.
 
Evgeny Fist for RunwayDay.com 

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