Monday, 18 February 2013

مرحبا من دبي! - Hello from Dubai

Hey it's me again, this time from the United Arab Emirates  =)

After a mere two days in Germany, yesterday was finally THE day. However, leaving everything behind that had become so dear to me during the last three years in Paderborn was everything but easy.
One last pizza (gotta have some good German food before leaving!), one last hug and off through security. Both the plane and I were waiting at the gate for this premiere - my first ever flight with Emirates! And I have to say I loved it - the legroom, the service, the food, the design, the attitude... the only thing I didn't like was the descent towards Dubai - note to self: never fly if you have a cold :-(
The lovely lady who was sitting next to me and I had lots of fun playing games on the Entertainment System and although she was well advanced in age, she seemed to be as enthusiastic about it as a little child. Anyway - that meant no sleep whatsoever for me! Had I known what kind of a day would still be ahead of me then, I wouldn't even have bothered getting off the plane... 

Dubai International Airport is quite a fancy structure. For those of you who have seen this picture before:

Dubai International Airport - taken from: 24x7 Global News

It is really like that - even at 6 am which was when I arrived. At first, I have to say I wasn't even the slightest bit thrilled - neither by the airport, nor by the city that we by-passed on the Metro. Smog or sand covered the whole skyline in dust, the temperature was already up to 24 degrees in the early morning and the Emirates ground personnel was far from being supportive and friendly. Then - one hour of standing in line at immigration, waiting for a government official dressed like a Sheikh to grant you admission to the city and the country. Then - pick up your bags! – It seemed to be an endless odyssey. The Dubai Metro is probably the cleanest metro I have seen in my life! It was so clean that you could have a child play on the floor. When I had finally found my hotel, I was told that I couldn’t check in until 2 pm – but what could I do to kill 6 hours of time? The Deira City Centre Mall is located opposite my hotel so I thought why not go there and browse through the shops? But as you never know where life takes you, I was asked by an Indian tourist if I could take a photo of him in front of the mall. And since he was going to go on a hop-on hop-off bus ride around Dubai, he invited me to join in. His name was Chris – actually Krishna – but since he lived in Washington D.C. he was used to being called Chris. When we got on the bus, I had no idea how long this would take. In a physical constitution reminiscent of a vegetative state, I got to see all the important sights of the 1.8 million metropolis on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Here are some of the sights for you to take a look at:

Dubai City - Beginning of the Tour

Beach views

A traditional Dubai Mosque

The Burj Al Arab Hotel

The Atlantis The Palm Hotel from a distance

Entering the Palm Jumeirah

Dubai Mall - View from the Main Entrance

International customers in front of the Dubai Mall Aquarium

The Burj Khalifa - highest building on earth!

In front of the Burj Khalifa

Dubai - traditional and modern at the same time!

When I got back to the hotel at about 3 pm, I was longing for a bed. And what a bed it was, too! A double bed just for myself, on the 9th floor with spectacular views of the Dubai skyline. This hotel would have earned 4 stars at least, in Germany. But here in Dubai, it had to settle for two stars! What a luxurious standard of living…
Dubai in general is a thriving city of luxury and extravagance. The most common cars here seem to be Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and Bentley, the shops in Deira City Centre Mall offer nothing but the best brands and every two minutes, you can see an Emirates aircraft taking off or touching down at Dubai’s airport. It seems to me that the Emiratis have taken the best out of every country and united it under the roof of their malls. You can find German breads, French pastries, American Starbucks, Canadian Second Cup and Tim Horton’s, Italian gelaterias, Spanish tapas bars and lots of Asian cuisine in every food court! Even a Rainforest Café, Caribou Coffee and enormous aquariums seem to be standard. The coolest thing about this is, however, that all names are transcribed into Arabic – take a look:

Nordsee - in Dubai! Arabic letters say: "Nurdsi" =P

Tim Hortons - Arabic letters say: "Tim Hurtnz"
The Arabian smells and tastes were interestingly different from what I was used to – along with the obvious absence of manners. Whereas Canadians stand in line at a bus stop, everyone over here seems to try to jump the queue, no matter how often they are pointed out the end of the queue. Kissing and holding hands in public is frowned upon – in publically accessible buildings such as malls it is even forbidden. And this is talking about man and woman – same sex relations are strictly prohibited by the law in the U.A.E.!
At the end of the day, the humid air and the difference in temperature – from -10°C in Canada to +25°C in Dubai – took their toll. My cold has gotten worse and along with the lack of sleep, everything has become so wearisome that a good night’s sleep was indispensable. And in doing that, I broke my personal record of non-stop sleeping: 21 hours without waking up.

When I woke up this “morning”, it was already past 5 pm and the sun was already setting. What a good opportunity to enjoy the views from my hotel room and write a new post for my blog:

My view at sunset =)
Tomorrow, I will board my next flight to Sydney – my home-to-be for the next year.
Take care everyone and look forward to news from Australia!


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