Dubai, UAE

Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
Trip End May 13, 2009

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Sapphire Princess

Flag of United Arab Emirates  , Dubayy,
Sunday, April 5, 2009

Late last night the Tahitian Princess sailed thru the Straits of Hormuz and into the Persian (or Arabian Gulf). If you are an Arab then it is the Arabian Gulf. Others called it the Persian Gulf. We steered to port and headed for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Although the city of Dubai has been in existence for over 150 years, it was not until after 1971 when the Emirates band together as the United Arab Emirates that Dubai has flourished. With oil money to fill its coffers, the UAE in general and Dubai in specific has had money to do many large and expensive projects. The UAE knows that the oil reserves it owns are quickly running out and they will need to move beyond oil revenues to fuel their economy. They have decided to transform the country from an oil producing country to a country that earns it revenue by tourism and trading. They are on a dedicated and frantic mission to transform the country within a few short years. This transformation started about 5 years ago and is occurring at a maddening pace. The country has a large amount of foreign workers who can live and work in Dubai, but not become a citizen of the UAE or share in its prosperity. There are large numbers of men from the Indian subcontinent that live and work in Dubai for meager wages under poor living conditions. These male labors are not allowed to bring their families into the Federation of UAE. This along with a strict code of dress and relationships that is one of the most liberal in the Middle East, makes Dubai an anomaly in the Middle East.

From the moment that we awoke and looked out into the port of Dubai, we could see the most common and definitive symbol of the city; the heavy construction crane. There are more heavy construction cranes in Dubai than in any other city in the world. The entire city appears to be under construction. Everywhere we looked there was a new building project under way.
The entire Federation of the United Arab Emirates is desert and was originally populated mostly with Bedouins, a nomadic tribal race of desert dwellers.
The three days before our visit there was heavy rain in Dubai. But the White Lady's Luck continued to hold. We walked out on deck to a bright sunny day that was warm but not hot and the humidity that was so heavy in India was gone. To describe the weather would be to say it was near perfect. We arrived in Dubai just between the cold and hot weather periods to enjoy this wonderful weather.
We had been informed of a dress code for Dubai. To conform to the code we wore long pants and golf shirts so that we would be casual but acceptable in any environment that we might venture during the day. Our clothing ensured that Harriet's shoulders were covered and both of us had our knees covered. We also refrained from any public display of affection for the day. I also wore my hat for sun protection. We arose early so by the 7:00AM docking we had already dressed and had breakfasted. We were ready to disembark and go thru emigration. This proved to be an easy emigration as we just picked up a generic landing card as we checked off the ship. So we quickly disembarked the ship and entered a large tent that was serving as a ship terminal until the new one could be built. Inside we picked up a map and met with five other couples that we would be touring with for most of the day. We had decided not to take the Hop on Hop off bus and rather go as a small group with two taxi vans. One of the couples had arranged for the taxis at $50 a couple which was less than the $55 a person required on the Hop on Hop off Bus. We felt confident in his negotiations as the British Gentleman was a previous owner of an accounting firm before he retired and he had traveled in Dubai before this trip.  The taxis would take us to a set of prearranged stops and then wait for us. The entire tour would take about 4 hours and we would then be dropped off at a shopping area for the duration of the afternoon.
We boarded the taxis and headed out along the beach to see the sights of Dubai. The first impression of Dubai is that everywhere you go there is new construction project furiously being built. You can feel the strict timeframe that the city is on to become a tourist attraction for the world. I say world because that is what they are planning on becoming. Every project is designed to be bigger and better than the previous one: the tallest building, the largest amusement park, the largest indoor skiing facility, and etc. The mountains that were once looming over the horizon to the east of the city are now mostly gone as the rock has been brought into Dubai and deposited just off the shore line to form large man-made islands such as Palm Islands and The Universe. As we drove down the beach area to the Burj al Arab Hotel on the beach between The Universe and Palm Islands; we saw construction of many hotels, stores, mosques and other supporting structures. The road was wide, new and smooth. The Burj al Arab Hotel is a large hotel that was built in the shape of a gigantic sail on the beaches of Dubai. But the design revealed a feature that was not intended to be in the design. Much like the potato that resembles a face, the view of the hotel from the sea reveals what could be considered a Cross. Before this was recognized the hotel's image was placed on the UAE currency. So now countries like Saudi Arabia will not accept UAE currency. Arabs will not stay in the hotel. It is too big and beautiful to destroy so it is a hotel for non-Arabs. This is one of the dichotomies of Dubai. It is trying to be an ultra-modern cosmopolitan center but is being restricted by many old and deeply held beliefs from the past. Its fašade is a modern 21st Century city but underling the fašade is century's old beliefs and traditions that cannot be swept away in a few short decades of modernization.
As only guest may enter the grounds of the Burl al Arab Hotel we stopped at the Jemeirah Beach Hotel for some beach shots of the Burj al Arab Hotel. Although not famous as its neighbor the Jemeirah was a beautiful hotel with equally beautiful grounds. We stopped and got our beach photos of the hotel built like a sail. But we had more to see so we headed off to our next stop on this Arabian Adventure.
Our next stop was out on the Palm Islands at the Atlantis Hotel. This hotel is located at the far point of the man-made island that is shaped like a palm tree. We drove out thru the construction and the tunnels to the farthest point on the island away from shore. It was the fantastic Atlantis Hotel. This bright pink hotel is enormous in size. At the very center of the hotel is a large, no extremely large aquarium that is about fifty feet in diameter and two stories high. Inside of the aquarium is a replicated scene of a sunken Atlantis with fish of many varies and sizes. As one would expect from an aquarium this large there would be large fish populating the tank. The effect was that of a diver looking around at the real sunken Atlantis. Also in the hotel was an outside pool where one could swim with dolphins. Large eating areas and fashion boutiques also filled the downstairs hall. And from the rooms above were beautiful views of either the Persian Gulf or the Palm Island and Dubai. But as our cab driver informed us, this was not an inexpensive place. Most things in Dubai are not price conscience. The developers of Dubai are building a playground for the extremely wealthy.
Everywhere we drove in Dubai, one building was always in view. It is the Burj Tower. It will official open 09/09/09 and then will be the tallest building in the world with 220 stories. As it, like most of Dubai, is still in the construction phase, we were not able to go into the building and instead stopped a block away and took pictures of this ultra-tall skyscraper that will be one of the icons that define Dubia. This was a quick stop as it was a photographic opportunity only. We were quickly back into taxis and headed for our next destination; the Mall of the Emirates. What makes this mall special outside of it enormous size is the fact that it has the largest indoor ski resort in the world. Yes, here in the middle of the Arabian Desert is a ski resort with people downhill skiing, riding toboggans, and enjoying other winter rides in a -4 degree environment where it actually snows. Hundreds of stores complete the mall so that its shoppers do not need to go anywhere else to shop. People were dressed in various manners from women in Bourikas and men in white flowing robes to men and women in slacks like you would see in any western store. But there were no shorts or shirts that exposed the shoulders.
An interesting feature of the malls and the hotels was that they did not appear to be crowded; they were in fact rather empty. The streets were loaded with automobiles and workers, but this did not seem to overflow into the malls and buildings. This could be due to the fact of the large number of malls and the large size of the malls.
We next headed into heavier traffic as we crossed thru town to the Al Karma area which is noted for its good bargains in clothing, jewelry, and other fashions. This would be our last stop on the taxi tour and we would then be able to disburse to secondary areas that were of interest to each specific couple. We left the group at this time to do a little shopping but to make our way to the Dubai Creek Golf Resort, the first site of the Dubai Classic Golf Tournament. We exchanged some money to UAE Dirhams and headed off to shop our way to the Golf Resort. We made an interesting discovery. On several of the sidewalks were vending machines that dispensed water along with other soft drinks. The water was only 1 dirham or about $0.27 US for a regular size bottle of drinking water. This was a great deal for an item that was needed in the desert; water. Even though the temperature was not especially hot, the water was a welcomed refreshment. But we had a destination in mind and were intent on going there next for our adventure in Dubai. It was the Dubai Creek Golf Resort and it was now close to us. We just had to cross the Dubai Creek and go down the far side a couple of miles. We opted to take a taxi to the Resort. When we refer to the Dubai Creek, do not imagine a small narrow stream, but remember that a creek can be of indeterminate size but it is not long enough to be called a river. So it was with the Dubai Creek which was called a creek because of it length not its width.
Like most of the areas of Dubai, the entrance and drive into the Dubai Creek Golf Resort was impressive. Especially impressive to us as this was the first golf course we had been on in over three months and this was the course that hosted the first Dubai Classic.  The Club House was a nice building that housed a good selection of equipment and clothing. We entered and did some souvenir shopping. On the far side of the Club House, we walked out to the putting and chipping greens with a driving range on the side. On the other side of the driving range was the golf course. It was large and well maintained. The fairways were green and lush with only a low rough area on the side. There were sand bunkers and large water hazards that belied the fact that we were standing in what once was just a desert. The temperature was in the mid 80's and a soft breeze blew over the course just hard enough to cool but not shorten a high drive. We walked around and renewed our love of the game of golf. Even though we were halfway around the world we had a familiar feeling being on the fairway. The course sits on the edge of the river and is surrounded but not overcome by a high city skyline. Again although large, the course was not crowded with golfers. This was a great stop for Harriet and me. Everyone on the course was exceptionally friendly to us and even called a taxi for us when we were ready to return to the ship. The taxi was a new Lexus taxi with a very nice Pakistani driver. He spoke flawless English and provided us a very enjoyable ride back to the ship. 
Back on ship we had a snack and talked about the city of Dubai. It is a modern city with no slums or poor inhabitants. Unlike Saudi Arabia which believes that the oil riches belong to a single family, the UAE believes that the oil riches belong to the UAE native population. To be a citizen of UAE, you must be born of a UAE father. There is no naturalization process to become a citizen of the UAE. The spreading of the wealth means that all of the citizens of the country are able to enjoy all of the bounties that come from being an oil rich country.
Will Dubai be able to become the Tourist Destination for the wealthy? Only time will tell, but we can say that Dubai is not immune to the current worldwide economic downturn. Several large projects like the new airport and a new gigantic man-made island complex have been put on hold because of the current state of the world economy. The world is truly tied together economically.
Dubai is a city that has removed its history and it history will now start from the present and continue on into the future.
Before we reach our next destination the White Lady must run the early part of the gauntlet. That is the Gulf of Admen from the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea. This is an area of increase security as it is an area of high piracy. We will discuss this area more later on in the blog. But next we will be in Salalah, Oman in the Gulf of Admen. It is a small port that is infrequently visited by cruise ships.

Where is Harriet? Hunt 
In this hunt Harriet is standing in front of the Burj Towere, soon to be the tallest building in the world. This may not be as hard a challenge as some pf the previous hunts, but it does showcase the largest building in the world. Don't get distracted. 

Finding Harriet was Chrystal followed by Sharon, Linda, and Brenda.

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