Apr 5 - Exploring Old DubaiApril 5, 2018 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
It's going to be another warm day here in Dubai - expecting a high of 34 deg. C. Doug and I thought about hitting one of the two gyms downstairs after breakfast, but ditched the idea. Hey, we're on vacation! Besides, the better-equipped gym doesn't allow men in between 9:00 a.m. and noon and we sure weren't moving fast enough to be in and out by 9:00 a.m.
Bob dropped Patty, Doug and myself off close to a main train station and then went to work on his golf game in preparation for a tournament tomorrow. The trains are fully-automated and driverless, clean and well air-conditioned. The stations and the platforms are air-conditioned also. Some of the train cars have sections designated for women and children only. We made our way to the oldest part of Dubai. Along the way, we saw hundreds more construction cranes. I did see some lovely green lawned areas with huge beds of bright pink and red petunias. I also saw the every-present irrigation lines. Dubai averages only 25 days of rain per year for a total of only 3.7 inches of rain. Patty says that rain causes schools to be closed down. The roads are simply not engineered to shed the water. I really wouldn't want to watch Dubai's crazy drivers drive on wet roads.
We got off the train near the Mall of the Emirates - it has an indoor ski slope where you can ski, snowboard, toboggan, zip line and take a chairlift to the top to enjoy the views. We see enough snow at home, so we bypassed the adventure.
We started with lunch at the Arabian Tea House - had great chicken shish kebabs, warm bread, salad, tzatziki sauce (yogurt and cucumber and garlic) and french fries. Delicious and all in a lovely old setting.
From there we headed to the Dubai Souqs (pronounced sooks). It's an area of warren-like alleyways full of tiny shops selling a dizzying array of goods - textiles, shoes, clothing, spices, souvenirs, perfumes and textiles. Cash is king in the souqs and haggling is expected. The vendors, are to put it mildly, aggressive. Doug got yanked into the first souq and dressed up in one of the traditional head scarves. When he said he didn't need a scarf, the store owner asked if he needed Viagara!! You can buy any knockoff designer goods you'd like - especially watches and purses. The colours of the fabrics are so vibrant - deep golds, reds, blues and pinks. Beige is certainly not a popular colour here!
We took a short boat ride - the boats are called dhows - across the Creek to another souq. The Creek is a long, narrow, crooked finger of water that runs inland from the Persian Gulf. The buildings of the old city of Dubai are clustered along the banks of the Creek, harkening back to Dubai's roots as a trading centre. This souq, the Gold Souq, specialized in jewelry. There was gold and silver and gems everywhere. Incredible.
Back across the Creek on another abra. Patty and I bought finally succumbed to the urging to buy and bought tops - hers in a sapphire blue, mine in ruby red. We made our way back on the train to the main station and hopped a cab home from there.
We relaxed and watched the lead up to the Masters Golf Tournament - it's Bob's favourite golf tournament. We are dining in tonight - chicken caesar salad. There is a 24-hour grocery store on the ground floor of Patty and Bob's building. As Patty says, "You can wake up at 2:00 a.m. and get those bananas that your forgot!"
All in all, another excellent day. Not sure what's on the agenda for tomorrow which is the beginning of the weekend. Weekends here are Friday and Saturday, so Thursday nights here are like Friday nights at home. Fridays are a day of prayer for Muslims, the followers of Islam.
A few observations:
The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the dirham - denoted as AED. There are about three dirhams to the Canadian dollar, so we have become very quick at dividing all prices by three.
A 5% VAT (equivalent to HST) was introduced on January 1, 2018, much to the annoyance of all in the UAE. The aim is to reduce the UAE's dependence on oil revenues and to fund the development of high-quality public services.
The Emirate's Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Many of the stops on the train line are named after banks. The 2020 World's Fair will be held in Dubai.
There are very few bicycles in Dubai. I suspect, that considering the crazy traffic, the hot temperatures and the constant, widespread road construction, cycling is just not a good option for getting around.
Arabic is the official language of Dubai, but English is the most widely-spoken language. Signs are posted in both Arabic and English. English is the official language of instruction in schools.
Western style fine dining abounds - McDonalds, KFC, Red Lobster, Subway and Tim Hortons. I can't get a Tims coffee in Florida, but I can get one in Dubai. Go figure. Tim Horton would be gobsmacked to see what has happened to his little coffee and donut enterprise that began just up the street from Dofasco in Hamilton.Read more