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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dazzling Dubai

There were two options to get from Houston to Cape Town, and our choices were to fly British Airways through London or Emirates Airlines through Dubai. We'd heard so many interesting things about Dubai, that we thought we'd give it a whirl. We left Houston on Thursday night, flew 15 hours and landed late evening in Dubai. Our hotel, the Harbor House, had a wonderful bar and restaurant at the top floor that provided great views of the city.

The thing that really struck me most about Dubai was it's sheer size and impossible-ness. There was practically NOTHING here in the middle of the desert 30 years ago & now there is a mega-city that is expanding with lightening speed.

The country itself formed fairly recently (at least by our standards) and the discovery and subsequent rise in oil prices have started a boom which is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

We had a view of the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, which is a GIANT palm shaped island that was totally created with sand and rocks from the desert. It's really just unbelievable...I wonder if they know about global warming and rising sea-levels? You can also just see the edge of the next high rise to ours- they are packed in close to each other!

We were just blown away by the skyscrapers & high-rise buildings. All new, all with beautiful architecture, all really really tall and all being quickly surrounded by even more buildings.

Our tour guide told us that 80% of the population in Dubai is foreigners who have come here to live the life of luxury or workers in the construction or service (tourism & retail) industry. Every single building you saw appeared to be attempting to out-do all the other buildings in beauty and complexity.

In the Emirates ultimate attempt to be the biggest and most at everything, is the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Dubai. Estimated at $4B USD and still under construction, the building will be the world's tallest and have the most floors (160 floors!). It isn't scheduled to open until later this year, but this photo gives you an idea of how it towers over the other 80+ story buildings of the Dubai skyline.

We were also told that, at one time, at the height of the construction boom, that 50% of all the cranes in the world were in Dubai getting in on the action.

Just when you thought you'd seen 100 completed skyscrapers and 100 under construction, you see a new one that makes you go "hmmm..really, a bridge between the two?".

I'd look at buildings like these and wonder how much taller they would continue to rise.

No plain-Jane, square, boring buildings in this town.

This is the view from the front of our hotel in the marina area- totally surrounded by luxury towers. I'd wonder who lived and worked in all of these. At 1.4 million people in Dubai, it's much smaller than the people in Harris County (Houston) alone at 4 million people.

There's an area known at "Little Manhattan", where the mega-freeway runs in-between facing sets of skyscrapers. They are working on installing a rail (light rail?) on the track that you see at the bottom of the photo.
Left side of the car...

This is out the right side of the car...building after building after building all just stacked on top of each other, crammed in, competing for your attention. To us, everything about Dubai just seemed excessive and over-the-top in a larger than life way. It was just jaw-dropping to try to comprehend the wealth and the size of everything we'd see being constructed.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Going to pick up some professional photos today of the gals (me, mom, Gram & Zoe) that I had taken back in April.

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