We flew from Lhasa, Tibet, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in one day, so the least we could expect was a dose of culture shock. We went from one of the least commercialised and underdeveloped countries in the world to one where retail malls are touted as major tourist attractions and development includes building fake islands.in the shape of a palm. We left Tibet not being able to breathe due to the high attitude and became breathless in Dubai due to the vile heat which a 44 degree temperature produces.
We were excited to arrive in the Middle East and initially were drawn to the one of the older areas of Dubai, the Creek which has served as a minor port for vessels trading from India and East Africa.
We took a lazy abra ride along the Creek, sweltered as we wandered through the fabric souk and gulped down icy cold lemon and mint drinks when we lunched in the Bastakia area.
We resisted the call of the malls as we are not shoppers but somehow we succumbed to the tantalising air-conditioning in Dubai Mall (the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area) and as we sank gratefully into the plush cushions of the Times of Arabia restaurant in the Souk area of the mall, we embraced Dubai.
This is a city with a population of 2 million but only 10-15% are local Emiratis. The rest of the population are expatriates, chiefly Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and Somalis. About 6 million international visitors arrive each year. I get a sense that Dubai expects all expatriates and visitors to spend significant time shopping and staying in ultra-expensive hotels.
Development is around every corner and huge air-conditioned undercover areas where you can shop, snow ski, Continue reading