Sunday, 3 June 2012

(with apologies to AC DC) For those about to shop Dubai salutes you!

Our first out of country jaunt! We flitted off to Dubai for the weekend.  Love the concept that in a few hours of driving, or one of flying you can be in another country. Bit of a change from good old Australia.  Set off with good intentions of being cultural and throwing in some shopping, but we accidentally bought some stuff on arrival at the Mall of the Emirates - which was to have been the jump off point for our touristy stuff.
Daytime from the hotel balcony

So instead of seing Dubai we saw the inside of one of the biggest malls in the world.  Despite spending close to eight hours in the mall there were whole areas that we just did not get to!  Scary stuff. And we did spend up a bit, came with one half empty suitcase betwen us went home with two full suitcases. Mostly my stuff, a new suit, shirts......... all at 80% off the ticketed price and at that price the good quality natural fabric clothes were more than competetive with the not so nice chain store stuff. 
Winter fun in the Mall of the Emirates

Pure cotton shirts, wool/cashmere suit.. and Katrina bought yards and yards of fabric for future sewing.  And that folks was pretty much the extent of our shopping.  The men at the shop sewed up the trouser cuffs for me and the suit was ready to go two hours after purchase - not too shabby.

Although the following day (Friday to you) I went to the 1200+store Dubai Mall to visit a rather large book store.  My, my Emirates has a ski slope (which we ate dinner looking out over), Dubai has a waterfall, an aquarium and a thoroughly modernised (and sanitised) Souk precinct. Much prefer a real Souk, but it seemed to be a hit with the tourists. And the water wall seemed to be a hit with everyone.
Fishiness at Dubai Mall

While I was visiting a second mall Katrina went to a meeting of the Dubai knitters group. Can't keep a good craftie down! Although what you'd knit to wear in the desert is beyond me. 

The nearest analog I can think of for Dubai is Singapore. Both thoroughly modern cities, trying to milk remaiming vestiges of their culture for tourism, but in a race to claim the tourists shopping dollar. 
What happens when architects are let out to play unsupervised!

The cityscape is amazing. Someone let the architects loose and said I want my building to look different to any other.  That is apart from the ones where the instruction was clearly "I want my building to look like the empire state, or the Chrysler building, or, or, or.

The worlds tallest building lives in Dubai, more than 800 metres.  I briefly thought about trying to go to the observation deck, but it was booked out til 10pm and that's after my bedtime your honour. Another visit perhaps.

Night from the balcony - what's wrong with the building on the right?
So I just had to make do with our 35th floor hotel balcony, with views of the marina and back towards town. Very pleasant it was sitting out there sipping vastly overpriced wine. Stuff we'd not pay $20 for at home at twice (and a bit) the price. But then as westernised as Dubai is, it is still a Muslim country.  

Unlike Oman Dubai has cast off much of what uniquely identifies it as an Arabic country. Sure there are still people in traditional dress, but they are more than vastly outnumbered by those in Western clothing. Mosques dot the city scape, with their minarets climbing above the surrounding houses. That is in the housing precincts, but in the huge swathes of commercial tower buildings everything around them is obscured. Like Muscat the call to prayer is broadcast in the streets and malls and there are prayer rooms readily accessible for use by shoppers.

The only bad point to our visit involved (as ever it seems) our new bank.  Because we don't have a credit card and the Visa Debit card can't be used online - or it seems as a real credit card substitute we had to pay for our room up front and room service as we went.  That would not have been a problem if the card had worked in ATM's! So while we could EFTPOS and shop we could not replenish our cash which quickly ran out and we would have been in strife if Katrina hadn't brought an Australian debit card with her. See if you can riddle who our bank is - How Sad when Banks Crash.
Where were you when the cash ran dry in Dubai?

And then all too soon we were at the airport and on our way home again. To be met the following day by the arrival of our Socceroo supporter pack for Friday night. Kindly put together and mailed by Brooke.  Revenge is in the offing I say! For those of you who know our quirks the Smurfette and Leek confetti was amusing, but revenge worthy! 

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