After our wonderful stay at Qasr Al Sarab at the edge of the Liwa Desert, we headed straight on to Dubai. I’d been to Dubai back in the summer of 2007, so I was curious to see how much it had changed in the last 5 years, though with just 1 night there I didn’t think I would have time to do much exploring.
Dubai is an odd place – Singapore is often noted for its amazing speed of progress, but Dubai has an even more accelerated pace, thanks in part of having oil money. You can see the contrast in the shiny sky-high skyscrapers alongside the older, rambling souks and buildings.
Dubai is famous for its growing skyline, where buildings try to outdo each other in height and architecture weirdness. I would dearly have loved to go up to the top of these buildings – I love a good highplace – but we didn’t have a lot of time so I only got to admire them from afar…
Being Christmas, we decided to do our annual Unholies secret Santa gift exchange here with a difference – instead of separately buying gifts, we headed to the Dubai Mall and 100AED each, went helter skelter around to see who could get their giftee the best present in just 30 minutes. Shopping in 30 minutes is definitely a challenge, but in Dubai where the malls are humongous? Man I was really tired after that sprint.
But the one place you can’t leave Dubai without going to first, the one and only Choc & Nuts store! It’s a rather small place, nondescript amidst the high buildings and busy streets, but this is apparently where everyone who visits Dubai gets their souvenir chocolate dates and nuts to bring home!
There’s one traditional thing that you definitely have to do when you’re in Dubai, which I think is and will always be my favourite memory of Dubai – heading to the creek to ride the Abra, a very simple river taxi system that ferries people from one side of the Dubai Creek to the other, for just 1 dirham! It’s been upgraded a fair bit since 5 years ago, with proper jetty docks, signages in English, and even helpful guides that speak good English who’ll direct you to the right boats.
And as the sun started to set, we decided to take a walk along the creek back to where our car was parked. The old harbour, surprisingly, is still very much in use today, with lots of small boats and goods being hauled off them. I saw things from tyres to refrigerators in the port that day.
And of course, an exhortation from me to you, an important message placed at the docks: