Ann and Roger Bould from Waikanae Beach, were recently in the oil-rich kingdom on the Persian Gulf. Here is the first installment of their adventures.
Dubai: hot, modern and sandy
The driver pointed out the main attractions as we went along the highway:
- the longest driverless train in the world
- the biggest shopping mall in the world
- the tallest tower in the world
- the new city, which was sandy desert only 15 years ago.
The speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour. He was doing 118. He explained there is 20 Km/H allowance for speeding. But when you get to 121 Km/H you get a hefty fine. No excuses. I kept thinking of that old song: “What a difference a K makes”
We could see the new city buildings dimly in the distance. Our driver said it had been worse a couple of days ago, when sandstorms from the desert made it a bit hard to see the car in front.
The locals are heavily outnumbered
Dubai is 20% Arab and 80% foreigners. The foreigners are mainly Pakistani, Indian and Filipino. They get a two year work visa which can be renewed if the employer OK’s it. You can see where this is going, can’t you?
And it happens. If the boss isn’t hugely satisfied and you can’t get another job, it’s: “Sorry, go home.” But there’s pretty full employment in the construction and services industries, there are buildings going up all over the place. Construction goes on 24/7, but with a longer break in the middle of the day during the height of summer.
The hierarchy can be a bit hard to follow at times: Arab men are at the top, of course, because they’re stronger and just better at everything, so they say!
Then Arab women (except on some trains – I’ll explain that in a bit), native animals and foreigners.
Down town: tall towers
The sites are very small, smaller than an average NZ section. And they don’t seem to put buildings very close together; hence the tower block popularity, I think.
We couldn’t find the mall, even though it was the biggest in the world and only a couple of hundred metres from our hotel. We kept running into this 7 star hotel (yep, Dubai has more stars, too).
Finally we gave up and asked someone. Entrance is through the hotel. Silly us!
A HUGE mall!
The mall is HUGE and easy to get lost in, so that’s what we did for a while.
Then we found a food court, one of several in there, and after having something to eat, we headed back in the searing heat to the hotel, where we gave in to jet lag and crashed.