Thursday, 10 October 2019

Hilton Dubai Creek (Dubai, UAE)

I had a difficult time staying asleep last night but eventually got a good nights sleep. Perhaps it was the quiet that I wasn’t used to since being in Cairo it is never totally quiet. There always seems to be a car nearby with a driver honking the car’s horn.

I’ve engaged a driver for my time in Dubai. While not as cheap as one in Egypt, still much less than a taxi or Uber. Kaleed was the one who picked me up from the airport and said he could take me around Dubai today and be my guide. We agreed that after three hours of driving around I’ll have a chance to see many of the sites in Dubai.

Before I met him at 10:00 in the lobby I got myself ready and had a good Hilton breakfast. Just walking from the hotel to his SUV, even though it was 10:00, the heat and humidity hits you as you walk out the door. Getting into his nice air conditioned vehicle was a relief. Not a coincidence that most cars here are white or light-colored.

Kaleed drove me to several sites. The Jumeirah Mosque, through the downtown high rises via Sheikh Zayed Road, the telecom building with a giant golf ball on the top, the Coca Cola Arena, and my favorite, the Picture Frame. The Picture Frame is 150 meters high, or about 20 – 30 stories, and you can see old and new Dubai. I assumed this to be correct because I didn’t ride the elevator to the top to see for myself.

Another landmark that we drove to was the Burj al-Arab, the world’s tallest hotel, that is built to look like a boat’s sail, more specifically, a “dhow” sail. I couldn’t get too close to the hotel because of security and also it would require a fairly long walk along the beach. (See earlier comment about the heat and humidity.) From what I read, suites in the hotel cost around $15,000 per night and Kaleed said it was a 7 star hotel.

After about three hours I felt like I had seen a good number of sites and now have a good idea of the city’s layout. I found the heat made me tired and was looking for time to rest. Kaleed will pick me up at 5:00 and will take me to the Burj Khalifa (burj is “tower” in Arabic and Khalifa is the name of the owner of the building).

Kaleed bought me a ticket that will get me to the observation deck and walked me to where I was to join the line of people waiting. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t in Switzerland and managing so many people was not as precise as a Swiss watch. It was 45 minutes later when I got to the observation deck where I could look out over the city.

Since it was still hazy outside the sunset was mostly behind clouds. But what a view! It was like I was in a plane flying over the city rather in a tall building. Half of the floor was an outdoor viewing area and the rest was indoors. The outdoor part was filled with people and everyone struggled to get pictures but eventually everyone was able to appreciate the incredible view. I stayed about 45 minutes then joined Kaleed who was waiting for me on the ground floor.

Driving back to the hotel I saw the city lit up at night. All the buildings are new with more in the process of being built. It was like stepping into the next century because everything looked so futuristic.

Tomorrow Kaleed is meeting me again at 10:00 and will drive me to the Mall of the Emirants (the second largest in the city) to shop and visit the indoor ski attraction. I was in the world’s largest mall earlier, which we went through this evening to enter the Burj Khalifa, but I realized it would be impossible to see the whole mall because it’s so vast.

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