zondag 16 maart 2014

Dubai trip

For a whole week I went on a "business trip" (actually a cruise) to Dubai. It's not recommended for people who like to have a healthy lifestyle because you can eat and drink at will till you burst and it's all for free. I tried to restrict myself from eating too much but the food was too appealing.

Anyway, there is a lot to see in Dubai, the temperature in March is pretty ok at around 28 °C. The first day we went to Abu Dhabi and went to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. For me this was the highlight of the trip.

Next on I went to see the Emirates Palace Hotel, probably one of the most luxurious hotels I've ever seen and I have seen many hotels.

They even have a gold ATM machine inside the hotel.

You would think Abu Dhabi is a rich capital of the Arab Emirates and a nice place to live in, but what I've seen there in Abu Dhabi is worrisome. You have to know that Abu Dhabi was transformed from an empty desert. And that's what I saw, empty deserts with lots of sand. Here and there some buildings which are still in construction phase. I saw exactly nobody on the roads, only a few cars on the highways. The only people there are tourists and taxi drivers. I guess the people are all hiding somewhere and I can come into that. There is no grass, no trees, it's too hot and it's not healthy to breath in all the sand. I wouldn't want to live there at all. I visited the famous Ferrari World of Abu Dhabi and it was pretty much an empty place.

The second day we sailed to Oman, the neighbour of the United Arab Emirates. And I found more of the same, a lot of sand, all white buildings with only 1 or 2 floors max, no vegetation at all. There wasn't anything of interest to see there.

The last day of the week we ventured into Dubai, which was by far the most fun city to visit. First we went to the Dubai Mall. We grabbed a taxi and tried to negotiate on the price to get the taxi driver to become a tour guide. Of course we didn't say we come from Belgium or they would ask high prices (30 euro per person for 3 hours). We said we were from Cambodja (price dropped to 17 euro per person for 3 hours). Here is a fun video of one of many arguing session with the Indian cab driver.

These taxi drivers are very smart, they will bring you to some sort of museum where you will waste time and then they will charge you more if you go overtime. That's the way to earn money right? Actually these taxi drivers earn a lot of money, because the gasoline in Dubai is pretty cheap. You only pay 1 euro for 4 liters of gasoline. While in Belgium it costs 5 times as much.

So we went to the Dubai Mall and this mall is one of the biggest I have ever seen (and I have seen many big malls). It's so big that you can fit the biggest aquarium in the world in it. Measurements: 32.88 metres wide x 8.3 metres high x 750 mm thick and weighing 245,614 kg.

The people's clothing in the Arab Emirates is very particular, more than 60% is wearing kandooras even in shopping malls. It's a weird sight for Western people.

Even the toilet has a man with a kandoora on it. Beware, they don't have toilet paper there.

When you go outside the Dubai Mall, you will see the highest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

Other places we visited are the Atlantis Palm Islands.

The Burj Al Arab.

Then finally we went home and to my surprise I found out they even sell gold at the airport. I asked for how much they would sell me a Canadian maple leaf and the answer was a 20% premium, no thanks.

For information: the boat we were on is called the MSC Lirica and they have very nice daily shows in the theater. Very professional players.

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