Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To Buy or not Dubai

So far I never met someone who really likes Dubai, yet everybody keeps going back to it. You have to admit that there must be something that attracts people to this city, but I have not put the finger on it.

I am sure that it is not be the symbol of the city itself, the famous Burj Al Arab. Today the world's third tallest hotel in the world (guess where is the tallest one) is definitely not the place anyone can afford. Although magnificent from outside, and even more from inside, it does not attracted people to the same extend a Statue of Liberty, an Opera House or an Eiffel Tower does today. Many more marketing campaigns and maybe a many more discovery passes with some smashing people entertainments should help reinforce the beauty of this grandiose building in the middle of the calm and red sea.

I am also sure that it is not the new construction sites that the city keeps building along it sea shore. Apart from being sign-seeing distracting, massive side by side construction sites helps to provide a caring shadow during the hot summer months and an alternative vibrant breathing training exercise for future suffocative boiling days. From outside the city looks more like an open-heart surgery operation at night and a live scale crane manufacturer convention at day. Do I have to mention that due to a shortage of sea view, Dubai is building islands outside its shores in different shapes (palm trees or other world map). Never the less, you can imagine that driving in this condition requires a daily update of the newly born construction sites and can force you sometimes to experience traffic jams that would make any Friday afternoon L.A. drivers panicking.

It can't be the Golden Shop palaces flourishing in the old Dubai, only handful of wealthy people and foolish tourists would be able to imagine having to travel to the city only for window shopping gold, stones and other precious ornaments. The travel sheikh is not an American express.

It can't be the olds Dubai and its famous Gold, Souk, Perfume and Fish Souks. Middle eastern cities around the world have better and bigger souks where any tourists can dive and lost the few kopecks that they were willing to exchange with some local souvenirs.

I have also a hard time to imagine that people come to Dubai to observe, study and experience a Black & White society (where men wear white and women wear black). Dubai with its 90% population coming from outside UAE, has a special status when it comes to international social behavior. Tolerance and sometime acceptance (if you can afford it though) is a stimulating living direction in this peculiar Middle Eastern place on which nobody questions your outfit as long as you respect the basic rules of faith. Surprising scenes will challenge the most sarcastic human detractor of the planet.

It could be maybe its peaceful population, the original ones, the ones who were the first fishermen and desert traders. My stay was not long enough to give me a chance to encounter early Dubaists.

It could be maybe its constant clear blue sky between sandy buildings.

It could also be maybe its peaceful river dividing the old city in equally quiet playground for late walks around for tourist (or inhabitants) in dyer of postal card shots.

What I am sure of, people come back to Dubai for the national sports: SHOPPING. Never in my life I have encounter such a big line up of malls, side by side, competing for having the longuest cab line up, shoveling wagon of wallets attached to foreign tourists. Never in my wildest dreams I had imagine shopping malls cities in which you need a full paper map to find you way around. Never in my life I saw ski slopes INSIDE a mall where shoppers watch skiers and skiers watch shoppers. This is so big, that Dubai has a Shopping Festival (DSF) since 1996!

I will be back in Dubai, like the others 7 millions tourists that visited the city last year, not for all the things mentioned above though, but certainly for another trip in the desert and watch another breathtaking sunset over sand dunes.