Dubai was once fabulously wealthy even though it had no oil reserves, it did serve as a liberal playground for rich Muslims and not too far from the action: the banking/business center of the middle east, sort of a Zurich on the Persian gulf. The Emirates border on Saudi Arabia, Qatar (home of Al Jazeera, a remarkably good news source), and Oman – just across the waters from Iran.
When the Emirates airfare popped up on Travelocity as the cheapest possible way to get to Capetown from SFO and back to SFO from Dar es Salam, I just knew we had to go. First, though, we had to make Emirates Air let us off the plane in Dubai. Not as easy as it sounds, even though Dubai is the hub for Emirates Air.
Eventually they saw the light of rea$on and let us spend 3 nights at the exorbitant but definitely modest (with much to modest about) Four Points Downtown Sheraton where the $25 buffet breakfast was included in the $175 a night to stay there.
We were around to the left side, in the back looking out on concrete courtyard, so barren I didn’t even take a photo – that’s really boring…
It was worth it – I guess. Dubai was an interesting place, not least because we’d never been to the middle east and because I taught a class on Islam (twice) to slavering learning-in-retirement seniors whom I indoctrinated in the life of the prophet, PUBH (or whatever). Islam is the world’s second largest religion. This is like having (from my point of view) the second worst disease possible.
“Calling Dr. House, calling Dr. House”. But don’t get me started. I figured my rep hadn’t traveled as far as the middle east and that the Emiratees’d probably let me in.
Besides, Dubai has fallen on hard times and needs the dough. When I think back on what we did there for 2.5 days (other than nearly lose the camera right off the bat in the airport), it seems like not much. We didn’t, for example, go skiing. Couldn’t figure a way to do this novelty for under $250. Looking at the outside, it definitely will not make you forget Aspen Mountain.
We did wander around (surprisingly large area and not conducive to walking).
The place is chock-a-block with mosques and I took pictures of a few in my role as secret agent for disbelievers.
This is the mosque where Tue./Thu/Sat you can get a nice lecture on Islam from a cockney lady who is quite amusing. Been a convert for a seven years and lived in Dubai a bit longer. She explained how it was fine that the Muslim ladies sat apart from the Muslim men (apparently so the males’ thoughts would not be molested which could lead to uncontrollable lust visited upon the poor vulnerable ladies).
She (the cockney lady in black) also explained how wearing black in the Arabian peninsula sun was akin to standing in the shadow of a tree – even with the sun burning down. I did not explain my understanding of 1st law of thermodynamics nor ask any rude questions.
Below: Neither did we make make it into the world’s only self-proclaimed 7 star hotel, the Burj al Arab (Arabian Tower). It’s architected to look like a boat under sail – and it achieves that spectacularly sitting like a white sail on the blue gulf water.
Below: The now open 828m/2716 foot Burj Dubai (now Burj Khalifa) was not yet open when we arrived. The $110 trip up to the viewing platform at 670m/2200 feet would probably have kept our admiration at sea level.
See you next in Africa…