Dubai is a brand new world made
of cold steel, polarized windows, seven-lane highways, and futuristic architecture. It is like New York, London or Miami: inundated with international brand names, from McDonald's to Porsche, from Jean Paul Gaultier to Starbucks. It is unlike any other place in the world: crime is almost nonexistent.
2. If you are looking for local history.
If there is evidence of history or of local culture, it is tucked away in the national museum. Nothing in Dubai speaks of its past. The "old" city was built in the 1970s and this "new" dizzying cosmos of excess and bling has been under construction since the year 2000.
3. If you don't like five-stars hotels, exclusive restaurants, unaffordable shopping malls and canals meant to evoke images of Venice.
Take the Mall of the Emirates: the world's first shopping resort, currently featuring Ski Dubai - the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park, over 560 high-end stores, 7,000 parking spaces, a food court with over 90 luxury eateries, and upcoming 250 million dollars worth of enhancements, just because. Or, take a look at the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall, which whether we like it or not, receives more visitors per year than Niagara Falls, Time Square, Central Park and Disney.
4. If you don't like seeing American architecture copied and modified.
The Burj Khalifa--the tallest building in the world--resembles Chicago's Willis Tower, which funny enough, also used to be the world's tallest building. Something to do with both towers being designed by the same American team. Cough. Cough.
Oh, and the dancing fountains? You know, the ones that look and sound just like the ones in Las Vegas, only bigger, brighter (6,600 lights at night) and more over the top? Well, ahem, they were designed by the same company that built the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel.
110F, 95% humidity, the sun hangs high and mean, and the air adopts an un-breathable heaviness. The locals stay indoors, pale tourists venture out in full armor: wide-brim hats, oversized sunglasses, 100 SPF sunscreen, lightweight breathable clothing. The works. Everyone sips lemonades and waits for the sun to set. Everyone, except the Southeast Asian construction workers. To them, discomfort is the norm. They work at dawn, at dusk, when the sun is at its zenith and every hour in between. Dubai is built with Western technology, Middle Eastern money and Southeast Asian sweat. While Dubai slumbers in air conditioned palaces, villas and hotels, the workers toil outside in a miasma of dust, dampness and heat.
Rumor has it that approximately 10 tons of gold are present at any given moment in the Dubai Gold Market. With over 300 shops crammed with gold in all its values (10k, 14k, 18k, and 24k) with 24 carats being the purest form of gold, you almost need sunglasses to go window-shopping. It is spectacular by day and dizzying by night. The excess is vulgar. The designs garish.
It's difficult to imagine who creates gold necklaces so heavy they would most certainly atrophy the wearer's neck. Even more difficult to conceive is who would wear them. But this is Dubai (named after a local locust, Daba, which consumes everything around it) and here, the bigger, the flashier, the tackier...the better.
You have to. Trust me. You
have to act like you are the owner of that Lamborghini parked outside (you
arrived by taxi), walk tall across the lobby of the $1,000/night hotel, rearrange your Gucci sunglasses (fakes) as you greet the butler and the concierge (as if you were their guest), pretend not to be wowed by a pool of fresh petals (have your husband take a picture of you all giddy), and gingerly make your way to the beach. Order some exorbitantly priced cocktail and when the waiter asks your room number, tell him you are paying cash. Cash baby. That's how you roll. Then snap a picture of the Burj Al-Arab, the first seven star hotel in the world and one of the most extravagant and luxurious ever built ($10,000/night for a deluxe suite).
Then, think what it would be like not to have to fake it.