When I met my husband, I thought our theme song should have been "A Whole New World" from the movie Aladdin. You know...Prince Ali takes her off to see all kinds of new things that she never imagined. Well, that is still how it seems to be 9 years later.
My husband took Omar and I to Dubai during Ramadan. He has always talked about how different it is to be fasting in a country where the entire population celebrates. And it was really different. None of the restaurants or smaller food joints in the downtown were open during daylight. The construction workers and those who work outdoors had hours from 5:30 to 11:30. Office workers could work until 1 pm. Only those in the retail or hospitality industry seemed to be working what we'd consider 'normal' hours.
We stayed at Dar Al Masyaf, which is part of group of hotels owned by Jumeira. In the cluster is the famous sail shaped Burj al Arab hotel. It has luxury suites and you can travel by golf cart or gondola to get around. The temperature was at least 100f/38c, even after dark, so you didn't really have the walking option. As soon as you step out you melt. We pretty much adopted the Arab ramadan schedule where we'd stay up all night, eat breakfast with my husband (who was fasting) at around 3:00 and then go to bed until noon. We hit the pool for several hours while he had meetings, and then met for dinner at 7:00 pm. We would have loved to try out all the watercraft on the beach, but frankly, it was just too hot. Omar's tennis shoes melted just from walking around the resort. You had to be in air conditioning or cool water.
|One of many windows at the gold souk|
The first night we visited the gold souk (market) which is just an area of the city dedicated to jewelry shops. There are price tags on some of the items, but really you have to barter with the store salespeople to get the best price. We didn't buy anything, but it was interesting to see the variety of gold and diamonds they had on display. Much of it is made in Italy and is quite expensive, heavy, and large.
We also went to the Dubai Mall. It was filled with signs of wealth. Outside there were doormen helping with packages from Gucci and Prada. Ferraris and Lamborghini sports cars pulled up with drivers that looked to be teenagers. Women were clad in black with just a face or eyes showing, but underneath they had designer shoes and fancy handbags. The mall itself is huge. It has a waterfall that is several floors high, an ice rink, multiple food courts, and every New York designer shop one could wish for.
They have a huge fountain- more like a lake- out in front and every night they do a light show. We went up to the observation platform at Burj Khalifa, the tallest building which is located next to the mall, on the night there was a full moon and were not disappointed. We could see the city lights and the fountain display below. It was amazing to fly up 124 floors in no time at all. The only indication you had that you were moving was the ears popping.
|me looking down at the city|
|multi story waterfall in Dubai Mall|
|ice rink at Dubai mall|
|Burj al Arab hotel and our beach|
The last day we were there, we hired a driver for a couple of hours and put Omar in the kids' club at the hotel. We saw the downtown, spice market, and a whole residential area they have built on manmade islands in the shape of a palm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Jumeirah
|Stepping into the sky view bar at burj al arab- kind of 'star trek' meets 'Saturday night fever' motif|
|The pool water was cool and wonderful. We bought a waterproof camera for Omar and this is what it can do|
|spices at the souk|
Overall it was a fantastic opportunity to see an Arab country not being depicted on TV as a place for terrorists or war torn. I wouldn't mind going back...but maybe when it's a bit cooler!