Dubai is a land of skyscrapers, opulence, wealth, and tourists. An incredible man-made Palm Tree island is built off of Jumeirah Beach that we were able to get a good bird’s-eye-view of from the 52nd floor observation deck/restaurant of the Marriott.
The tallest building in the world has its home in Dubai (the Burj Kalifa) and is located outside of the world’s largest mall.
It’s full of all these things thanks to the oil found in the 1970’s. Dubai is a nouveau riche place where you will find men in long white robes, red and white scarves (think Arab sheikh), and well-manicured strong hands; the women are wearing head scarves, tastefully dramatic make-up, and beautiful shoes peeking out from under their black abayas. Here in the United Arab Emirates, you’ll also find many various Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Asian “locals”. We experienced these people and sites as well as a touristy, fun, and “slightly” staged desert safari.
Old Dubai along the Creek, where our charming hotel was located was about a thirty minute metro ride away from the glitz. Here, in typical off-the-beaten path Leibs fashion, we saw the less glamorous, but equally relevant aspect of Dubai – full of multi-ethnic restaurants (we even tried a camel burger…), the old souks (including the gold souk, where all that glitters IS gold), and of course the merchants hawking us to buy knock-off bags, watches and sunglasses.
We decided to rent a car for the day and drive south through the Arabian desert to Abu Dhabi, and were met with more over the top affluence. We’ve been to many mosques during our travels, but nothing rivals the gleaming Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
We walk away from Dubai feeling fortunate to have experienced this young culture and look forward to the adventures still in front of us.