Although I knew that Dubai is currently undergoing a huge construction phase at the moment, I wasn't prepared for just how much construction there actually is. I have never in my life been to a city which is essentially as unfinished as Dubai. Yes, there are areas in which it seems settled and construction is at a minimum, but those areas are few and far between and typically are the older and sometimes poorer areas of Dubai.
From my balcony I can see the construction of at least 10 buildings as I am living in the new area of Downtown Burj Dubai (or at least the developing area) and it's mind boggling to see that there are at least 25 cranes in my view as well as an endless traffic of trucks, buldozers and workers doing their thing. Construction (at least where I live) also goes on for 24 hours a day so it's not too much a stretch of the imagination to expect the buildings finished within a week! Well, not quite, but the turn around times on most construction here in Dubai seems to be around half that of in Australia.
Once I grasped the scale of the construction, my attention turned to the thousands of workers needed to complete the buildings. Everywhere you go in Dubai you see predominantly Indian workers in their yellow, grey or blue overalls with scarfs covering their faces (protecting them from the dust) working hard in the seemingly endless cycle of construction. There are numerous shifts and during the peak times of the day you always see buses (unfortunately un-airconditioned and with barred windows) taking the workers either to or from a construction site. It is actually quite amusing to see the buses arrive at the construction sites as the workers run as fast as they can chasing the bus so that they can be first on to choose the best seat. From a distance this seems like a fantastic game and perhaps is the hightlight of their day as they laugh with their friends and try and beat each other to the bus. It seems as well as the bus drivers have their fun by not quite stopping when the workers think they will and a game of catch begins.
The roads of Dubai are an interesting sight to behold at first. I'm not really talking about the driving, although that is bad compared to Australia, I'm talking about how the roads actually are built.
As most of the roads are still new and more are being developed, the quality of the roads are excellent and some are even better than Australian ones so unless there are speed bumps (of which there are many around me), you don't have to worry about a bumpy ride, although you may need to worry about the other drivers.
Navigation in Dubai is interesting and unless you have an extremely good sense of direction (even then it is hard) it will take a while to figure out exactly how to get places on your own. Most of the roads in Dubai have median strips which run for kilometers and just because you are near the road you want to take doesn't mean that you can access it easily and go in the direction you want to go. Sheikh Zayed Road is a perfect example of this. It is a 8 lane highway that connects all the Emirates together and is busy at most times of the day (some would say suicidal during peak hour). Because there is absolutely no way to do a u-turn on Sheikh Zayed Road you have to figure out which exit you need to take in order to turn around and go the other way. This also isn't as easy as it sounds as the road signs often announce that it is the exit to somewhere which is actually 20kms away and in a different direction from where you’re going. Once you have taken an exit, you will need to drive around the other roads surrounding the hwy for around 10 minutes (time includes wait time at at least 2 sets of lights) before you make your way back on Sheikh Zayed Road, this time in the right direction.
Although I have made it sound awful, Dubai roads do eventually make sense (sort of) and you'll soon find little back streets where you can avoid going anywhere near Sheikh Zayed Road in the first place thus avoiding any unnecessary heart strain.
Just Passing Through?
A recent article in the Times regarding the UAE’s strict policy on all sorts of drugs including many that are perfectly legal elsewhere rang alarm bells for me because I have passed through both Dubai and Abu Dhabi dozens of times carrying several medicines containing substances (such as codeine) which are on the UAE’s banned list: http://www.moh.gov.ae/moh_site/phar_med/price_list/controlled%20list.pdf
Custom officials use highly sensitive machines that can detect even microscopic amounts of a banned substance, excuses don’t count and penalties are harsh. I would advise anyone passing through the UAE to read the article: http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/news/article3333905.ece
The city has a serious transportation problem. Trafic jams are common even the roads are built with at least 4 lanes. Our first day thought us not to look for a taxi between 6- 9 p.m. After waiting 90 minutes in a taxi queue, we gave up and headed for a dinner. I have not seen such madness never ever before. This high demand for taxies must have given some taxi drivers a king like feeling. In one occasion one of these drivers have given us such an attitude, I almost got into a fist fight with this guy. Thanks to god the following days I ran into drivers who were nice enough to neutralize my view for the drivers of this city.
Dangerous Encounters of the "humped" kind...
Dubai & the rest of the UAE have developed from a sleepy, picturesque sea-side settlement into an ever-expanding metropolis. Camels (or any type of wildlife) found wandering free is rare.
The "Camels Crossing"-signs look cute, like a perfect touristy souvenir. But they actually indicate a danger that is taken far too lightly.
You'll notice fences on either side, all along the desert highways. Livestock-related road accidents happen rarely. Nevertheless, be very cautious when driving through the desert or thinly populated suburbs, as the wind tends to "move" sand dunes that then cover the fences, allowing camels to simply walk across & onto the road in some places.
If you hit a camel at sufficient speed, the consequences could be fatal.
Visibility is often poor due to sand storms or extreme fog (Sept. & Oct.), so keeping your eyes fixed to the road, especially at night (when camels are mostly active) is vital!
In the late 1970s, my mother in law hit a camel on the dark highway whilst driving back home at night. The camel went up on the car's hood, came into the windscreen with its legs, kicked her friend in the passenger seat unconscious and the weight of its body peeled the roof of their Range Rover back, effectively scalping my mother in law. They were both seriously injured, the car was a complete write-off.
She lived to tell the tale, with only a faint scare on her forehead. During the investigation the owner of the (deceased) camel wanted her & her friend to pay Dhs 200,000 (US Dollar 55,000!) for "killing" his prized breeding camel. Thankfully they won the court case, but this could happen to anyone - escaping with your life and then having to pay for "damages"!
I see my "neighbourhood camels" every morning on my way to work. It brings a smile to my face, but also makes me wary of the danger. Fencing of hundreds of kilometers has reduced the incidence of camel related accidents in UAE, but even though we don't know "why the camel crossed the road", it still does occur...
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
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looking for taxis!
there is a limitted transport system in dubai.the best are taxis but attention!!!it takes a long time to find a taxi in the street.so call one before your departure.however you will fine taxis confronting the hotels and the main shopping centres,but not along the courses and paths.they are always full.
to opt your hotel!
dubai has been devised in 2 parts by the river named"khur".the nordic is "bur dubai" and the southerly is"deirah".the most important shopping centres and the best hotels and parks are located in"bur dubai".this part,fit the arabs,indian and european in itself but the other immigrants like pakies,afghans,iranian and indian people live in "deirah".choose a hotel in"bur dubai" to pass the beautiful and calm time in dubai,near the modern city and shoppings.
Check your Visa Statements!
A few months after I returned home from Dubai, I noticed that a $4 charge was appearing on my credit card statement each month from the car rental company! I canceled my card and my bank reimbursed me the money. Who could have been charging my account from Dubai? It was such a small amount, I might not have noticed! Lucky that I did!
- Luxury Travel
- Business Travel
Trying to get a Reservation at PierChic
We tried in vain to get a table at Pier Chic, the apparently amazing restaurant at the Al Qasr hotel. We were completely flexible on days and times, however it was fully booked for the entire week we were there. We were advised by the guest relations at our hotel (Jumeirah Beach) that we should wander over there about 9pm and try our luck, as there would almost certainly be space for 2 somewhere ! However, when we followed her advice we were not even allowed into the Al Qasr hotel without dinner reservations ! We were a bit pissed off, and mentioned this to our hotel the next day, however they still refused to try and make a booking for us. So we gave up. The moral is, if you wanna go, book early !
- Food and Dining
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
not all beautiful
Driving on the outskirts of Dubai , there are giant pylons stalking the land, with warnings about the overhead cables. I always feel relief when we have driven past them.
They are a contrast to all the imaginative architectural structures going up, but when you drive past them everyday , you begin to see a strange beauty in them too
- Road Trip
- Work Abroad
Dubai is HOT. In the winter months it is quite pleasant but in the summer it is very hot and also humid. Fortunately most buildings are air-conditioned as are cars, but many tourists are only interested in getting tanned and relaxing by water.
I managed to get burned in the winter, so in the summer limit my time in the pool to before 9.30 am and after 5pm However I have seen some people lounging in the sun as mid day approached, and then having a dip and sitting at the edge of the pool, before starting the procedure all over again.
Yes The man in the photo had a great tan and used sunscreen, but still the skin must be getting damaged.
When the sun is overhead, at least cover your back and shoulders with a t-shirt.
- Work Abroad
taxi drivers in Dubai
I got fed up with taxi drivers in Dubai.If you are going short distance they try to convince you to go somewhere long distance. For example when I took a taxi to go to Deira Mall, the driver said" Why you go there, it is old, bad, why don't you go Emirates Mall?" they realy give you a headache. Another time one taxi driver tried to convince me not to go to Wafi Center" saying that it is small and there is nothing in there".
These guys are mostly from Pakistan and India they really damage the tourism in Dubai.
- Road Trip
It was shocking and painful to go through Passport at Sharjah airport upon my arrival ,although I had proper visa. The lines and procedures are not clearly marked. When it was my turn after 30 minutes for passport control the officer told me"eyes" and I did not understand. Then he said "eye scan" and pointed me another line. There was another line for eye scanning so I waited in line 35 minutes.After getting my eyes scanned I was back in line for passport check. It all took 1.5 hours to go through passport control.
The airport especially departure hall is dirty and stuffy. There are 2 toilets without urinates and there are long lines of waiting in the dirt toilets . I travelled all around the world but it was the worst I have ever experienced .
- Family Travel
The biggest airport in the world
A friendly word of warning. I travelled into dubai from Brunei arriving at about 12:30 in the morning it took us over an hour to get through immigration. It felt like the whole of the world were trying to get in. I'd love to say that the immigration officials were professional and smoothed out any difficulties but that would smply be lying. I found them disinterested, arrogant and unhelpful. The male officers I saw spent most of their time chatting up their female colleagues. I'm a reasonably placid bloke but this actually pushed me closer to my limits than I can remember being for a very long time. Sydney was always the benchmark for me as the least efficient most frustrating airport to arrive in but Dubai has knocked it clean of it's pedestal. If your tired and cranky when you get of the plane the immigration hall will enhance that feeling dramatically. Good luck and "welcome to Dubai," it's likely to be the last time you hear those words.
Camel milk is wonderful for your health: it is rich in Vitamin C, in iron and helps reduce diabetes and coronary heart disease. But... unless you have the possibility to drink it regularily, the only thing it'll give you is most likely an upset stomach and dhiarrea.
Let's face it: it takes a while before your body gets used to camel milk - before it'll give most people stomach problems. I did not have any, luckily, but well... camel milk is very salty: I definitely did not like the taste.
Ifyou are curious, just remember that you can buy it in any supermarket... but have some medicines with you, just in case.
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