Thursday, 30 December 2010

Dubai 2010

The first impression of a city/country usually is the most important and long lasting feeling. That warm feeling you get when you like a city is not only defined by the monuments, buildings, food, smell  but also with whom you are with and who you meet along the way.

I would like to share with you what I felt during the first 24 hours in Dubai.

Dubai`s airport is the cleanest airport I have ever seen. Not only that it is also one of the most organized for example: catching a taxi to the hotel  is an adventure as there are normal taxis and lady taxies. Yes lady taxis, what an invention! The person behind the wheel is a women and she can only take families or other women. Her taxi is different from all the others as it is pink and smells like an artificial strawberry.

At the hotel hospitality was overwhelming a clear characteristic of the national culture for example the butler who came with a glass of pineapple juice to welcome us at 3am!!This customer orientated treatment is something that I believe Europe has lost over the years. The more one walks around the city specially the souks (markets) the more one realizes that this place is as or even more consumer orientated than the USA. I really feel that Capitalism thrives and drives this society. It is all about having the latest gadget, the best car, the newest watch, the nicest perfume and as a result shops and commerce are exceptionally good at selling. In the States one finds a huge multicultural reception of people all chasing the “American dream”, Dubai is not that different. There are people form all around the world all looking for a better life from the east to the west. This city is like not other in the world. Initially one does get the impression that with the huge exotic buildings that everyone is living the life. However after going out to the Marina I had the pleasure to talk to a local taxi driver who set my expectations to a more realistic picture. He actually has lived in Dubai for 24 years, came from Bangladesh and works 5pm to 5am every day. He does not own a taxi, as the government controls and owns all the great fancy taxis. My friend actually only receives about 1/4 of what the taxi receives. His salary is 3600 AED just under a €1000 a month. His reality is that he shares a house with 6 people, he sleeps on a double bench bed for the price of 300 AED a month. He explained how the prices have increased phenomenally during the last few years, how all the buildings popped up. His impression of the city is that it is now empty as all the people who chased fortune in Dubai realized that the city actually is very expensive and most of apartment blocks are not full. He believes that Dubai is heading for a huge crisis. In contrast, I went to the largest mall in Dubai: the Dubai Mall (next to the Burj Kalifa) where there is a huge aquarium in the middle, with a zoo, ice skating ring, cinema, ponds, water fountains which make the Bellagio look small. This shopping centre has a entire fashion floor where money is not an issue as I saw a couple of ladies spend over €4000 together and had their own maid carry the bags. The walked to the door where their white and shinning Rolls' Royce was waiting. What a big contrast.

Of course we visited all of the tourist attractions which make Dubai famous but in a single sentence this is what I thought of Dubai: Where the west meets the east, making it the most glamour city I have ever  visited, where all of the following adjectives make sense: biggest, most, highest, brightest, nicest, hottest, cleanest, latest…


1 comment:

myrilefo said...

Gareth.. how do you know the ladies taxi smells like strawberry.. what have you been doing in there?? ;p