a visit to dubai

A few months ago, I had the chance to hop over for Dubai for two weeks for work. Who was I to say no? I’m always up for going someplace new.

And now that I’ve been there, everyone’s been asking me, “Dubai! So what was it like?”

My reply is generally, “It was … interesting,” followed by any number of details, depending on the audience:

  • It was perfect weather in January – sunny and 85 degrees pretty much every day (in the summer, apparently not so nice, unless you like it hot-hot-hot).
  • Amaaaaazing souks, with just about any beautifully exotic trinkets you could want: scarves, spices, shirts, jasmine perfume (my favorite!), and tons of gold jewelry. You can definitely get some deals if you know how to bargain.
  • Delicious food, especially Indian, Pakistani, and Moroccan. Not exactly the best places for the squeamish as far as cleanliness of eating establishments goes, but you can test out your stomach of iron here.
  • No alcohol. No kidding.
  • My co-workers and I were pretty much the only women we saw out on the streets. And I couldn’t figure out where the kids go to play – didn’t see a single playground.
  • All that half-finished construction makes it feel a bit like a ghost town. Besides the Burj Dubai towering over the rest, there are dozens of other high-rises downtown, but it sure looks odd when you get up closer and see that so many of them aren’t close to done, and that they are surrounded by abandoned cranes. Will they ever be finished?

Let’s face it – it’s this last point that makes current-day Dubai so distinctive. Several articles have been written about the high level of bankruptcies and desertions, and the sad state some of the guest workers are in – who came there to work and are now stuck there, many without work. Seeing all those empty and unfinished buildings definitely hits it home, since these signs of the economy’s downturn here are too big to hide.

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