Day 2 -
Good morning Dubai! Today, we have a very heavy breakfast (as you generally do when on a foreign trip). You see, most packages include only breakfast. Spending separately on lunch every day can be a bit costly. So what to do? Carry theplas and khakras (Go Gujju!!).
Park Regis (our hotel) serves some amazing variety of breakfast. You have Indian and Continental, veg and non-veg, high-calorie and low-calorie! We got to taste and an amazing variety of cheese from all around the world (my increased flab didn't say a big thank you later on, though!).
Anyway, this morning, we would be picked up by our car (SIC basis) to be driven all around Dubai on a city tour. These pick-ups are all on time. You need a local number to coordinate with the travel agent.
Travel Tip No 1: Buy a local SIM card, either DU or Etisalat. You can fill it with the minimum amount of talk time just for the sake of contacting your tour operator. Data connection is not really needed as most hotels and tourist attractions in Dubai have FREE WIFI!
Dubai City Tour
The city tour takes you around old and new Dubai. Observe the lane discipline. Most guides are local Arabs speaking fluently in Hindi. (I heavily suspected our guide to be a Pakistani dressed as an Arab!)
Dubai started developing rapidly in the 1990s after the end of the Gulf war. Till then, it was nothing but a trading port. Being a desert, it was under-developed. The locals built mud houses with flat roofs and a box-like structure on the top to let warm air escape. The old houses have been preserved in this new Dubai. Heritage village, they call it.
Oil had been discovered in 1966, but Dubai had only 2% of the total reserves in UAE, almost 90% being in Abu Dhabi. The formation of UAE, itself, was quite a story to start with. The then King of Abu Dhabi, in 1971, proposed that all these seven cities or Emirates - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain - come together to form a federation. It was the king of Dubai who first accepted the offer. Thus, it was the king of Abu Dhabi who became the President, while that of Dubai, became the Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates.
Interesting Fact 1: UAE and India, had two things in common - both were colonised by the British (UAE till 1971) and both had the same currency (Rupee). Infact, from 1959 to 1966, the Reserve Bank of India, issued a separate 'Gulf Rupee'! Currency only changed when the Indian Rupee got devalued in 1966!
|A typical bungalow, given to a local Arab after marriage.|
So if you are an Arab living in the UAE, you are definitely a Shiekh! The life of this 'son-of-the-soil' is a cakewalk. Why would it not be when all he has to do is to get married! And voila! He gets his own free house in the most luxurious area of Dubai + 25000 Dirhams has a marriage gift from the government + 10000 Dirhams each on the birth of his first 2 kids + 5000 Dirhams on the birth of the 3rd one! (Shiv Sena, are you listening????)
So basically the localite has to do nothing for his entire life. He just needs to own a business, in which he acts as a 50% partner. The business is run by a migrant while 50% profit is shared with the Arab. So no hard work and all the money in the world...the Arabs surely know how to take care of their own kind!
Interesting fact 2: No one, but an Arab can own property in UAE (except for very very few areas). Houses and shops are leased out on a 99 years term after which they go back to the owner. Rentals are high. You can only start a business in UAE if you have an Arab partner. The partner shares both your loss and profit. Cool, huh?
|The Burj Khalifa (Burju - as my husband lovingly named it) is a constant companion.|
|The crystal-clear waters of Jumeirah beach.|
7-star hotels dot the sea-shore, each with their private beaches. Luxury at it's best! The Burj al Arab (on the left) was once the tallest free-standing hotel in the world before the Burj Khalifa was constructed.
|The twin towers of Dubai, mirroring the once at Malaysia and the fallen once of USA.|
|18 carat Gold - plated horses at Al Qasr 7* hotel, Madinat Juneirah - A part of the movie 'Welcome' was shot here.|
Totally worth the Dirhams, this aquarium is a must visit! The display is huge, the theme being the mythical lost city of Atlantis. This was my second visit to the aquarium and yet, I found myself to be as amazed as I was the first time!
This particular place is located on an island, at the end of the Palm Islands, off the last of it's so called branches. To reach here, you pass an underwater tunnel if coming by road. The Palm islands also have a dedicated Monorail. We had left our City tour bus at this stop as the Lost Chambers was not included in our trip. So while going back, we had to take a taxi to the nearest Metro station 'Internet city'.
|One thing that you will observe and experience in Dubai is that you will have to walk a lot The above photo is of a footover bridge above the highway to reach the 'Internet city' metro station.|