Canadian born and raised my husband and I had been law abiding tax paying citizens of our fair country for more that half of our lives and just thinking of the idea of retirement. We figured another ten years or so and we could take life a bit easier. With children all grown up and on their own we were slowly thinking that fairly soon life would morph into a different path for us. We were in Abbotsford, British Columbia with my husband being laid off from a mining job up north that got sold. Just as we were thinking about what to do next we recieved a call from a prospective employer requesting an interview with my husband and asked if we were interested. Well! We were interested and before you know it Tom came home from the interview with a great big grin on his face and said with enthusiasm, “We are off to Arabia!”
I think, after having arrived in Dubai, the greatest impact that hit me as much as the 45 degree celcius heat were the Arabs all decked out in there Arab garb. White head pieces and robes for the men and long black tunics and black head covers for the women. So foreign from anything I had ever seen back home other than the odd east Indian with the turban, sporting the Canadian running shoe and riding a bicycle, but generally that was it. Staring at me as I waited to get my passport checked, was a large round beautiful rolex clock. This was going to be quite an adventure I surmised and was I right! I was prepared for an adventure but nothing like this! We caught a taxi straight to our apartment out of town, known as the Green Community. I found out that our rent was paid, that we had a pool to utilize and our wages were tax free! Ok this is going to be great! As much as I love Canada, you can ask anyone, “If you could change one thing in Canada what would it be?” Surely nine out of ten replies would be, “The taxes!” Ok, so no taxes. I must be in heaven. “Does it get any better than this?” I am afraid it does. While everyone it seems on the planet it absorbed in the high cost of fuel we pay just Eighteen Canadian dollars to fill up our Yaris, that the company pays for! On one of my husbands days off we decided we must take a good look at where we are and what all the excitement is about in this place. I will start with the shopping first. No big deal with prices although the various styles and varieties of items from clothing to air conditioners are plentiful. Sorry guys, no lawn mowers to be found!
The malls are absolutely out of this world! Glimmer and shine everywhere grace the many numbers of malls in this city. Malls are inundated over here. Not only to they serve for shopping with many sales throughout the year but also serve as a social gathering of the many Emirates citizens and other ethnic groups. Needless to say one of the biggest benefits of the malls are to stay cool. One would have to be extremely careful to sunbathe here in the summer as you would no doubt become as red as the Lobster you would be served at any of the luxurious Hotels. The Emirates Mall is the largest mall here and right now they are just completing another which will be the largest in the world! Outside of the mall you will see parked, Lamboughini’s, Fiarro’s, Corvettes and Hummers with folks like us standing near them, getting our pictures snapped beside them, hoping that some of their glamor and glitz will rub off! Hundreds and hundreds of people mill about the mall especially after 4pm as that is when it starts to cool down just a tad. The parking spaces are as rare as hens teeth and you will feel like a lottery winner if you find one, but don’t hold your breath!
So what is there to do in Dubai other than shop? To begin, one can take a dune bashing adventure. I would recommend this in the winter though as it could prove to be far too hot over the scorching dunes. When we went it was in late November which was just perfect for us. After being transported via an explorer we were taken out of town with a few other folk in our vehicle and were joined with more in the entourage and our convoy arrived at a designated place in the desert. While awaiting the transfer onto our assigned jeeps with our drivers we milled around the dusty little tourist shop sporting cold drinks and memorabilia of our adventure if we so chose to purchase them. Needless to say sure we loaded up on cold drinks and I with other women lined up at the rickety but quite presentable wash room away in the back, outside the shop. The trip was wonderful although I must confess I became quite queasy with sitting in the very back of the jeep being tossed like a wave in a storm tossed ocean. Happily one of the gals in the front of our vehicle generously gave me a couple of ginger tablets which did help immensely. We arrived in the middle of the desert and were greeting by camels to ride with the beautiful Arab in the background. Surreal and beautiful simultaneously! Belly dancing and wonderful Arabian food were there to enjoy as well and a good time was had by all with an experience to remember for a lifetime.
Chartered fishing is also available to the fishing enthusiasts or just anyone who would enjoy a nice afternoon out with a meal on a fishing boat with fun and adventure. Dubai has become one of the hottest sail fishing venues in the world. The exceptional tag ad release records are proof of this phenomenon. The abundant Sailfish are due to plankton which thrive in the warm water. Plankton is food for the vast schools of sardines which migrate through the Golf. The pods of sailfish feed on these sardines. The Sailfish season runs form late September to the end of April, and other types of game-fishing are also available. Other fish that are caught include: Queenfish, Barracuda, Kingfish (Spanish Mackerel), Cobia, Trevally, Dorada and Bonito. We have yet to do the sail fishing but we looking forward to with much anticipation.
Hot balloon rides are another feature here. One can go onto a helium filled gigantic balloon with a cable cord in the centre anchored at the themed Battuta Mall and be lifted 500 ft. into the air to enjoy the surrounding areas of Dubai. We have done that one on my birthday and was a fantastic way to celebrate. That was one birthday I will never forget! If you are a little more adventurous take the “High on Dubai” hot air balloon tours of the desert. Breathtaking people say that the sunrises are over the dunes. I can imagine! These balloon flights are generally from 4a.m. to 6a.m. in the morning as to avoid any of the winds that are known to settle into the Emerates from off the Gulf. The summer months are shut down as you can imagine with the heat.
Need a little something to write home about? Try going to a camel race! The United Arab Emirates has 15 racetracks across the country with spacious and well-kept stadiums for viewers. They are located on city outskirts, complete with rest tents, electricity, water, telephone lies, equipment for live television and radio broadcasts, a team of doctors and stand-by ambulances. Race distances vary between 4 to 10 kilometers ad may include anywhere from 15 to 70 camels or more. At the racetracks, dress is casual, admission is free, and light beverages are served. Cameras are not permitted at the tracks. Camel racing is supported by the highest level of government here. Sheikh Mohammed, owned 2,000 camels and was a well reputed for maintaining high performing camels. In the morning the races consist of the Sheikhs prized camels but in the afternoon anyone can race their beloved camels. Although betting is not allowed large prizes such as money, luxurious cars and various other coveted prizes are offered. The Sheikhs have been known to offer large amount to money to purchase victorious camels much to the delight of the camel owners. Former President Zayed personally owned a stable consisting of 14,000 camels. Along with that number of camels he hired 9,000 workers for their upkeep! Camel jockeys in the past were young boys between the ages of 6 and 7, weighing approximately 20 kilograms so as not to weigh down the camel. This became and international issue in addition to the trafficking of child jockeys from different countries for the race. Camel jockeys must now carry with them government issued identification cards, which can be acquired after passing examinations by specially appointed doctors to ensure that the child is of racing age ad has not been taken from a foreign country by owners claiming to be parents. Very successful racing camels are worth missions of dollars and the most coveted prize is winning the King’s Cup in Dubai.
The beaches are beautiful with a fantastic waterpark as well being right beside a world’s seven star hotel named the Burj Al Arab.
If per chance you miss the cold weather of home you just need to go the the Emirates Mall and join in the miriad of skiers enjoying the downhill ski slope with ski lifts instructors and even a chalet for a nice cup of hot chocolate!
The Emirates have even claimed the ocean where building man made Islands in shape of the world with more acitivities and accomodations can be found. Spectacular and hard to imagine.
Because the national tree is the palm here supplying the country and the world with delicious dates they have decided to build an Island shaped as a palm tree out in the ocean. Upon the Island are rows and rows of villas for people all over the world to enjoy this new age old school country!
The judicial laws are strict and will immediately enforce any violations of the law. Prohibition on drugs and drug trafficking here is immediately dealt with. Needless to say one feels safe in this type of environment. It appears that Dubai will be a place to enjoy a peaceful way of life. They take their religion seriously with mosques on every corner as well as in the malls. Prayer 5 times a day is common and once a year in September is Ramadam with prayer and fasting during the day. The city’s restaurants and kiosks are shut down for the month during daylight and sundown and eating in public during those times are forbidden. So if you are going to visit you may want to forgo September. Unlike Saudi Arabia the women here appear to be revered and the nations of the world come to Dubai for peace talks. It is a peaceful and gracious nation.
Oh we mustn’t leave out the Tiger Woods golf course here. People come from around the world to enjoy the golfing and sunshine in this part of the world.
Yes, this Dubai must truly be considered as one of the 8 wonders of the world! The most amazing feature from this new age city is that it has just risen from the depths of the desert! The most barren of places on the earth. As sky rails are being built and travel forward before your eyes and golden glassed building are erected and finish as quickly as the next one starts it confounds one’s senses. Palm Island in the ocean being completed you almost have to wonder what’s next and I am sure that it will continue on as great minds from across the globe generate new and innovative ideas that border on the state of being surreal!
Is it like Vegas one wonders ? I would answer yes but Vegas on steroids! Just take away the gambling, drugs and crime and you have left one the most glamorous places on earth. That’s not even mentioning the vision of Dubailand, (Disneyland only more), Global village, with the beauty and spendor of the nations meeting together with their array of goods as well performing the skills that makes their culture prosper and shine with independent and cultural uniqueness. The list goes on and on but perhaps in a book or at least my memoirs!
I would recommend this beautiful country for a safe and healthy lifestyle. And while you are here don’t forget to look up, look way way up and you will see the tallest building in the world. The Burj!