My 15 hour flight from Seattle to Dubai was sheer torture. You know you’re in trouble when after the pre flight loading of families with small children the waiting area at the gate is almost empty! I had demon spawn from hell sitting behind me, a toddler screaming and kicking my seat the entire way. So I arrived tired and cranky but I had an immediate adventure planned for that night, so I drank a Red Bull and went anyway, in spite of only having a few hours sleep. Boy am I glad I didn’t cancel!
It was a desert safari and one of the most popular things to do in Dubai. Now I know why! A driver picked me up and we climbed into a Toyota 4 Runner and headed into the desert. It’s kind of funny because there was no exit off the highway. The driver just turned left from the main road and drove right into the red sand and then we met up with about 20 other 4x4s. Soon we were driving over dunes, climbing sandy hills and really having a good time. Before long we arrived at the safari area. It was basically a bunch of thatched roof huts in a big circle. Outside there were quads and camels to ride. I of course spent time on both. I was the only woman on the quads. To get on a camel they kneel down so you can sit on them. Then they raise their front legs so that you lurch backward unexpectedly. It was really fun!
Inside I smoked a little apple flavored hookah (called Shisha there) petted a Falcon and got a henna tattoo on my wrist. Immediately after the henna tattoo it smeared badly so it looked like the falcon had crapped on my arm! In fact, 3 days later it still looks nasty! Oh well. We then enjoyed a lovely buffet of Arabic food, drank wine and watched belly dancing. I sat with a nice family from Australia that rode over with me in the 4 Runner. We marveled at the most beautiful sunset I had seen in a long time. It was a perfect evening, aside from the ugly stain on my arm!!
The next day I spent the afternoon checking out the city and marina area. The fancy yaughts went on forever! I decided to spurge on a boat ride out around the palms. If you look at a map of Dubai there are two man made island areas in the design of palm trees. We rode out to that area. The skyline from the water is spectacular. We saw the worlds tallest building, Atlantis (a hotel with the worlds most expensive suite) and the largest private yacht in the world. It belongs to Chef Mohhamed, who’s second wife is the daughter of the King of Jordan.
Dubai is incredibly modern! They have the biggest, tallest, fastest and baddest of everything! Every sky scraper is remarkable and unique. There is no trash, no homelessness and zero crime! The penalty for doing drugs is that you are black listed and never allowed back in the country. The penalty for rape is to be hung within 7 days of your conviction. I was actually looking forward to seeing a Dubai police car because I hear they have Ferraris and Hummers, but I didn’t see a single one. I have never felt safer in any big city!
That night I went to a New Years Eve party at a 3 story club on the beach. I had researched it and bought my ticket on line, hoping I made the right choice. Boy did I! The line was long and full of young attractive party goers from every nationality. Ninety percent of the population of Dubai are foreigners, and if I had to guess I would say that the average age is about 28 years old. The people are all very friendly and tolerant of all nationalities. While I was there I saw all types of clothing, from traditional Muslim dress (some women were covered from head to toe in black, even their eyes were covered) to mini skirts and bikini tops.
I was dressed up for the evening in a nice cocktail dress. I ordered a drink and a gorgeous Latin man stepped up and insisted on paying for it. I was naturally suspicious but he called me a beautiful white flower which made me laugh. We started talking and I found out he was born in Algeria but raised in France. Now he works at a call center in Dubai. I spent the entire night drinking and dancing with him. He was is an incredible dancer! At midnight the fireworks filled the sky for over 30 minutes!! They were going off in all directions and it was spectacular! I let him kiss me at the stroke of midnight and then immediately security was upon us! “No kissing!” They said sternly. After hearing about the penalties for everything else I figured we had better comply! Engime apologized prefously saying he thought it was so crowded he thought we could get away with it. I made a mental note that PDA is not allowed in Dubai!
The next day we went to the beach. I saw camels on the beach! I’ve heard of riding horses on the beach…but camels? I was already kind of bored with camels so we rode the jet skis instead. It was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and just perfect! Apparently though from June to August it gets up to 120 and is too hot to be outdoors. Afterwards we relaxed in the sun and I actually got a little sunburn, in January! How awesome is that! Later that day we headed to one of the many malls in the city. One of them even has indoor snow skiing! I noticed on the drive that there is construction everywhere! Currently they have 800 hotels and will have 1200 by 2020.
It was honestly one of the best 3 days of my life. I can only think of 3 things I don’t like about Dubai. 1). The coffee is terrible. Their idea of good coffee is instant Sanka with powdered creamer, and coffe shops are hard to find. 2) No Public displays of affection. Enough said! 3) They amplify prayer chanting music throughout the city 5 times a day, beginning at 5:45 AM and ending at 7:00 PM. It is loud and obnoxious and woke me up on the first morning. I could hear it through my hotel windows. It lasts for 15 minutes. It’s kind of weird because I never once saw anyone praying. But everything else about Dabai was amazing and I can’t wait to go back!