Sun, Sand and Sky Scrapers – that’s Dubai for you. Standing on the 148th floor of Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 555m or 1821 ft, looking down upon the skyline-ful of skyscrapers, man made creeks and water bodies, it fills one with an exhilarating pride in our technological prowess that can tame any landscape, even the most hostile ones. The city is very clean and well maintained. I had heard people say the buildings stick out of sand like sore thumb. Buildings, particularly the new ones, are aesthetically designed and look pretty good. In fact the downtown Dubai looks a bit like spread out small Manhattan. The only exception is Dubai Frame. Looks awful. really sticks out like a sore whatever.
But the inevitable question that comes to one’s mind – how sustainable are these castles in sand? Well, at first glance, all looks pretty good. If they are sustaining a busy city like Dubai which was just a few far apart villages in oases supporting few thousand strong nomadic population till just a few decades ago, it’s pinnacle of success. But one wonders how long this energy guzzling city will last! Longer than I imagine may be. Abu Dhabi, the only one of the seven emirates, does have largest oil and natural gas reserves and the Emirates are committed to sustainable development. They are harnessing solar energy as well which they have in abundance. Water remains a problem, duh!. Despite the scarcity of water, their per capita water consumption is one of the highest in the world. Too bad.
No Dubai trip can be complete without the mandatory visit to the Gold Souk and Meena bazaar for Indian wear, spices and knock off designer handbags. I made mine beating the 51 deg Celsius peak heat of mid day. Too much gold can make you sick if you aren’t buying. Gold souk isn’t much fun once the novelty of the visual wears off after strolling through a tiny stretch. Handbags, on the other hand, are more doable. If you really are crazy about owning a Chanel, LV, YSL hand bag without having to sell your kidney for it, you could settle for these replicas. Haggle shamelessly to your heart’s content. Everything goes. Offer one fifth of what they quote, just hold your ground and be prepared to walk off, they will come after you. But these are just knockoffs, nowhere near the real thing.
At the airport you will be pleasantly surprised to hear Arab airport officials wearing the white robes and the black gutrah around their heads giving instructions in Hindi. Just about everybody knows a little bit of Hindi in Dubai. This was a short sweet trip to Dubai, my first to an Arab country.