Jetting here and there: Dubai

I have been very busy. Busy beyond belief, truth be told. This post has been ready in draft form for ages, but I haven’t had the chance to size the pictures. Anyway… My camera hasn’t been with me all the time nowadays, unfortunately, and when it has, it has faced quite a bit of adversity. It has now lost its cover somewhere in Isreal by the Sea of Galilee…

Swooshing Down The Roads of Dubai

Yep, I made my way to the Holy Land recently, via Dubai and Jordan. I had never been to the Middle East before, so I was looking forward to the experience. It was a 7 hour flight to Dubai. The airport is vast, with massive numbers of shops (apparently all of them are open 24 hours). We got out without any problems, and went on a group tour of Dubai city. We arrived at dawn, so we managed to catch the sunrise in Dubai. It was a cool morning, and Dubai is extremely impressive. Tall buildings shoot up out of nowhere, and beautiful manicured gardenspepper the city.

Houses in Dubai

I was told that Dubai itself is naturally desert land, but they installed underground springs to create those beautiful green gardens. Most structures were in the style of traditional middle eastern Muslim architecture, having a facade which rarely indicates what the building was meant for. We stopped by a mosque (right pic: I didn’t quite catch what the mosque was for, because I was still half asleep) to take photos and stretch our legs. I noticed that advertising was quite interesting too (pic further below).
Impressive Promenade of Buildings

Apparently, Dubai has about an 80% expatriate population, which explains the number of shopping complexes, monolithic cars, and weird dressing along the Arabian Sea. We drove down to the Burj Al-Arab, which was slightly less impressive in real life than in pictures. The hotel is placed on a little peninsula along the Arabian Sea, and apparently you can’t even go in without an appointment. So, we did the touristy thing – sit by the beach while taking photos.

The Creek

Riding Down The Creek!

We then drove down to the ‘creek’ to take a boat ride to the Spice Market. The pier was really quite interesting, featuring a little tower which had features resembling a face. The ride along the ‘creek’ (sorry, I’m used to creeks being slightly smaller and stream-like) was refreshing, because since the sun crept up, it had become hotter and hotter. I have to admit, the Spice Market (left pic) was a slight let-down, although I did buy some frankincense for the church (hopefully, they’ll use it during Chrismas service!). Then we made our way to the famous Gold Souk. I must admit, this part really bored me. Unlike the rest of the group, shopping, especially jewellery shopping (roll eyeballs much!), is not for me. So i wasted away an hour or so, totally bored while the other Malaysians shopped.

The Burj Al-Arab

After this, we had an awesome beriyani lunch at a nice hotel. Dubai has a huge Indian population, and this was apparently the best beriyani around (I can vouch for that). From the hotel, we rushed back to the airport to make a mad dash to the plane for Amman. Thank God the flight was short, and I slept through most of the flight.

It was clear to me when we landed that Amman was starkly poorer compared to Dubai. We drove to the west side of Amman (apparently the more affluent side), and check into the Days Inn (yes, the very same hotel which got bombed just one week after we left!). It was a nice hotel though, and I got an awesome suite. Amman was also very much colder than Dubai, and quieter, less bustly. It was nightfall when we checked in, so we basically just had dinner and called it a night, because the next day, we were heading out to Petra.

Photography & Text on Jordan: pending publication in V Mag (March 2006)
Photography & Text on Israel & Palestine: pending publication in Off The Edge (Jan 2006)