Leaving India, flying over the Arabian Sea, then over the desert – it was very exciting. I took pictures out of the window, watching the desert getting sprinkled with a little green, more green, and MORE GREEN. Overflying fabulous freeways looking sparkling new like a picture.
Wait until I show you Dubai Airport! It was the most sparkling exciting spotless airport I have ever seen. And I have seen a few airports. Lighting, palm trees and brilliance assaults the senses. The airport staff fit right in there: All wearing immaculately ironed Dishdasha, or Jalabiyyah, which is a white ankle length shirt, as well as a white head dress with black cording. The Jalabiyyah is extremely comfortable. Made out of very fine cotton, it keeps you cool, rather than western clothing.
The airport is so modern, that you really don’t know how to use all these gadgets, where you are supposed to pass immigration by yourself, your official being a machine in this case.
I was picked up by my family’s company driver and we drove right into Dubai to my hotel. On the way I could see a very unusual city scape: There are no ordinary sky scrapers, tall boxes and the likes, architects here went all out to find different shapes for the tall buildings. Most amazing architecture. And of course I saw the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa, 2716.5 ft (828m) high, shown here below.
Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, ran out of money when he was building this tower, which was supposed to be called “Burj Dubai” (meaning tower of Dubai). So when he ran out of money, he borrowed the money he needed from the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa. The payment for the money was to name the new tower, the world tallest building, after Sheikh Khalifa. That’s why the tower is now called Burj Khalifa.
I need to tell you a little bit about Sheikh Mohammed. He was third son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum, who ruled from 1958-1990. He was the one with the vision for Dubai. He had always been worried that oil would run out in Dubai, and he was partially right. After his death his second son ruled, but there is not so much heard about him. After his death in 2006 the present ruler, Sheikh Mohammed came to power. Right now Dubai still produces oil, but in a quantity not even enough for it’s own use, so it imports oil from Abu Dhabi. So Sheikh Mohammed continued his father’s vision to make Dubai the biggest trade and business center in the world. And he is well on the way to it. So all Dubai’s income results from trade.
What I learned about Sheikh Mohammed is that he is very very generous. He spends most of his money on improving the city. Infrastructure in general, parks, roadside flowers bushes, trees. Did you know that Dubai is 30% green? And it is not only green, it is immaculately kept, cleaner than Singapore could ever be. Even the cars are new and clean. AND THERE IS NO CRIME. People have everything, so they don’t need to mug anyone to get it. Also a deterrant is the absolute strict way people are dealt with, IF they dare break the rules.
There is a little bridge across the lake, which is part of the lake near Bouj Khalifa, is a whole new mall with mixed-use buildings, condos and shopping. It is sooo beautiful. I call it Modern Arabism, you get what I mean. Here is a panorama picture of it, then I have some normal shots, you can make out more detail in them.
Contrary to what we think in the west, women can go to the beach wearing a bikini, sleeveless short dresses are everywhere. But there are some people who still wear long clothing also. You do that as you please.
If you enlarge the above photo, you will see the foreigners in their bathing suits with some Arab ladies looking on.
And – that might interest you – The locals do not work. The ruler buys them houses and pays them a stipend to live on. In the morning in the cafes, you see the locals sit and have coffee and discuss the problems of the world. The only people working in Dubai are foreigners. The precious and sought-after nationality of a United Arab Emirates citizen cannot be given to anyone who is born of a foreign couple. Only the original Emiratis can have and pass on that nationality to their children. So if you are American, and you have a child there, your child will be American.
And here is the only 7-Star hotel in the world:
It was built on a man-made island. Nobody is allowed in there, unless they live there (have booked there). I don’t know what it costs, – it has to be a bundle. Reportedly, there are golden faucets, the utmost luxurious materials, huge spaces, 23 restaurants, an underwater aquarium and I am sure many many luxuries which I don’t know about and probably can’t even imagine.
I don’t know how much you know or would like to know about the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is only one. There are altogether seven of them:
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain and Ajman. All of them have oil. The President of the UAE is presently Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi, the Vice President is Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai, and together with the Sheikhs of the other five Emirates they form the Federal Supreme Council.
At this point I would like to also tell you that the UAE have eight million inhabitants. Only 1 million of those are Emiratis, the rest is foreigners, and as I told you before, no one can get the UAE nationality, however long they live there.
Leaving Dubai was not easy. My family, even though I had not seen or talked to them in decades, has spoilt me rotten and treated me with love and affection, like the long-lost daughter. I promised to come back. This time, I will not do a whole trip around the world first. There are 8 daily direct flights to Dubai from New York!