Landed in Dubai around midnight last night, and it took us a good two hours to get out of the airport (our passport check line took over an hour because, we presume, the guy taking care of us was in training). British Airways also sent our tripod on the next flight; it took us a while to figure that one out. Sadly Justin, one of the three Americans on the trip and my good friend from USC, didn’t make it out of LA (his flight was cancelled). Hopefully not a bad omen for logistics to come.
We finally made it to our hotel rooms by 2am where I showered and promptly passed out. 24 hours of travel and little to no sleep on planes does wonders for passing out. I knocked out an 11 hour jet lag with one punch.
We met our hosts around noon the next day and enjoyed Indian food together. I’m not yet used to eating with my hands. Following that stop, we were left to explore the Dubai Mall. It’s huge.
Dubai is not without familiar American comforts: Red Lobster, Chili’s, PF Changs, Burger King and pretty much any American chain you can name. Without Arabic everywhere, you could mistake this place for a Las Vegas competitor without the casinos, booze or sin. I have a feeling Dubai serves as a pilot city for consumer franchises looking to expand internationally. Another important thing to point out is how unbelievably international this city is. Everyone from everywhere all in one place. Truly the crossroads of the world. Los Angeles, New York and Montreal (all of which I consider very diverse) can’t hold a candle to Dubai.
I’m not a huge mall fan, so we spent most of our day outside admiring the architecture. Right next door is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Impressive.
I also rather enjoyed the Address hotel and the rest of the skyline.
There was a water show on the water. Overhyped, in our opinion. No Bellagio or Disneyland.
We took the metro back to our hotel, a pretty smooth system. The stations look like spaceships:
Ended the night with Thai food and a beer at the pub to watch UAE (locals here) beat Iraq in a soccer championship on TV. You must have a permit issued by police to buy alcohol from what few liquor stores there are (I have seen none) and only hotels can sell booze.
Restaurants make do with mocktails and some of the best tea or coffee I’ve ever had.
Nice day exploring. Time to get to work first thing in the morning!