Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I'm sitting on top of the World

Last weekend I’ve finally completed all must see in Dubai. I had a friend visiting me over the weekend and basically except going to the beach, resting and relaxing we did not do much. The only remaining touristic attraction was to go to Burj Khalifa. Finally!

I’ve booked tickets on-line a week before already, if you want to buy them at the entrance it costs 400Dh (sic!), although if you book them online you pay only 100 Dh.

We went there on Saturday after being at the beach, where we did some running, and trespassed from the Jumeirah Park Beach to the Kite Beach and then back, which was more risky as JPB is closed beach. Of course when we were coming there we’ve paid for the entrance, but we did not take tickets with us when we jumped over the fence to get out from there. Luckily we’ve managed to get in easily again without anyone noticing us jumping over the fence.

I was also lucky enough to spot two women in the water who were completely dressed with their heads covered, as this is the picture that I want to bring from here. Group of women in the sea wearing black robes and shawls. Unfortunately they were not wearing abayas, but at least they had their heads covered. I guess that to be able to shot such photo I should go to the beach on Monday, which is women day at the Jumeirah Beach Park.

This is where our luck was gone. Fog has come, we would not get dry after running and swimming in the sea, we went to the top of Burj Khalifa and did not see too much. What I was hoping to see was The World and Palm Jumeirah and airport maybe. I dunno how far it reaches, but I saw only the closest surrounding. It was cool too, although not that impressive. Even though cars were of the size of match boxes and we could see roofs of all buildings round it did not feel that high. We were at the 124 floor, so at the height of more than 400m. Burj Khalifa itself is 828m and more than 160 stories and is world’s tallest building. It was built in little more than 6 years. It was named Burj Khalifa – Khalifa’s Tower for the sake of Abu Dhabi sheik who helped Dubai when they were in some financial difficulties. It was to honour him and express gratitude for his help.

Burj Khalifa was expected to bring a lot of money from rental fees, but apparently these are apartments around it that bring money to their owners. Price of apartments with the view over the tower doubled at least, whereas probably more than half of the office and apartments spaces in Burj Khalifa is still unoccupied.

Having a guest also pushed me to go out for the dinner during the week. Usually I’m too lazy to go out somewhere during the week or even on Saturday evening, but with Pedro every evening was planned and we were meeting friends and having very nice dinners. House warming party of a German friend in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, dinner in Social House in Dubai Mall with two lads from France, dinner with German crew in Indian restaurant Manvaar (good, but Mumtazmahal in Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa was so much better) and finally oysters, french fries and beer in Warehouse in Le Royal Meridien with the French guys again. I’ve never been any great fan of beer and oysters, but that was fun! Especially that apparently I’ve never had oysters prepared like that and I never knew how to eat them properly, i.e. that you use the shell like tweezers to pick meat from oysters. Travelling broadens horizons ;-)
Covered swimming

Jumeirah Beach Park

Aquarium in Dubai Mall - aquarium with the biggest one piece of glass window

Paper butterflies in Dubai Mall
The biggest bullshit talk ever

Shiny Burj Khalifa

Waiting for the elevator. Average speed: 10m/s

View from Burj Khalifa over the Dubai Mall and fountains

View from Burj Khalifa
View from Burj Khalifa

View from Burj Khalifa. Dubai Mall again
View from Burj Khalifa. Dancing fountains during the show.

View from Burj Khalifa. Dancing fountains during the show. This is the best pic, as you can see the pattern which they make.
View from Burj Khalifa. Dancing fountains during the show.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

No time to think of consequences

Beach party in Dubai? Sure why not. As soon as I've found out about Sandance at Nasimi beach at Atlantis hotel I knew I'm gonna be there. Doesn't matter if anyone from my friends here is gonna join me. If there's a beach party I just have to be there.
Of course I knew it'll not be like Full Moon Party or parties at Kho Tao, but still, beach party is a beach party. Sand, water, warm, booze and good music. Different but good too. And even though I'm not huge fan of electronic music I knew it'll be good. 2manyDJs (the only DJ set playing there that I knew) were awesome as well as Smokingroove, Sneaky Sound System, Charl Chaka, Mark Pickup, Sander Kleinenberg, Fragma and Ronin & Nesta.
In the end I've attended that gig with two colleagues of mine, whom in the end I've lost in the crowd (is it something new), but I've met loads of people and surprisingly I've discovered that in the same manner as backpackers ask always the same set of questions expats in Dubai do the same, just the set is different. In stead of asking for how long you've been traveling is how long have u been in Dubai. Instead of asking what u do back home is what u do here and so one and so far. That was nice discovery, it was even nicer to discover it after I've just made up my mind to stay.
Sandance venue
2manyDJs. Is he yawning?
Atlantis hotel by night
JBR - one of the Dubai districts
JBR beach. Even though it's open, public beach everyone wears shorts or bikinis
JBR beach
JBR beach
Modern vs. tradition

Friday, 4 March 2011

Black and Yellow

Dubai is a comlex of buildings (it's not even a city) where:
  • alcohol is forbiden, but pint of beer costs about 10 euro
  • alcohol can be only bought in hotel bars
  • it is forbidden even to kiss even in such liberal place like dance floor
  • I'm being asked about my id when I want to enter the club
  • clubs are full during the weekends, but the only people there are expats
  • the only friends that I've made so far are girls
  • there are no street names and taxi drivers very often don't know the way so it's you who has to show it
  • there is minimum speed limit on the road in the city - 60 km
  • my colleagues from India speak their mother language with taxi drivers
  • 75% of population is male
  • 60% population is from India
  • fewer than 10% of population are Emiratis
  • kids of all nationalities play together on the playgrounds watched by Philippines baby sitters
  • women hidden behind abaya (full-length black robe) and shayla (black veil) or even niqab or burqa walk in shopping malls with lingerie bags
  • there is additional fashion category: Arabic Ladies Fashion
  • in the most expencive stores (RL, Armani, Gucci, Hermes etc.) there is noone except Emiratis
  • protagonists of commercials of electronics or office spaces are Bedouins in gutra (head cloth) and dishdasha (man's shirt-dress) knows also as thawb 
  • everything is practically in the middle of the desert
  • in the middle of the city or living estate you can find see shells
  • with the highest building in the world (Burj Khalifa, 828m)
  • where every district looks more impressive than Warsaw's city center
  • there are no natural green spots, every piece of lawn, each tree or bush must be watered
  • even during the winter it is incredibly hot and you cannot live without AC
  • there are separate carriages in tube for woman, so that you can easily avoid being pushed or squeezed by man
  • my curiosity drove me that far that I've asked if even though Arabic women cannot be seen by anyone not belonging to the family without burka or shayla what happens if they need to be examined by the gynecologist. And what's more what happens when he's a man, as there are male gynecologists here too. The answer is, that it is allowed and accepted.