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Travelers

Burj al Arab
Dubai Part II
Part I

By Mahin Bahrami
March 5, 2004
iranian.com

Continuing on with our little journey through Dubai… as with most famous cities in the world a beautiful waterway, called "The Creek" or "Khoor" in Arabic, splits the city into two, Bur Dubai and Deira. Consequently the most interesting and direct way to travel from one side to the other is by the Abra water taxi, a traditional form of transport used by locals to go about their business; and by tourists to access the spice and gold markets "souks", and the myriad shops selling textiles and electrical goods.

One side of The Creek is lined with some of the most modern buildings that Dubai has to offer. Just a few meters away you can still find old wooden boats traveling to and from the various Gulf countries carrying all sorts of modern consumer goods. Dubai is truly fascinating in the way it blends the old and the new.

Visitors stepping off a boat on the waterfront at Deira should make a point of looking at the dhows waiting to be loaded with goods bound for neighboring countries. The piles of unattended cargo on the dockside illustrate the underlying honesty of Dubai society. The dhow owners do not begin loading the boat until every item to be carried has arrived on the wharf. This can often take several weeks. In the meantime, the unpacked cargo stays where it is. But no one touches it.

Contrary to what people usually hear about this region, Dubai is one of the safest places in the world to live and work in. The reason is mainly due to the fact that almost everyone is busy working. It is the commercial hub of the Middle East where millions of dollars worth of goods are traded everyday.

Wedged between Europe and Asia, Dubai's encouraging tax regime, state-of-the-art telecommunication system and sympathetic business environment have produced a city that is moving energetically into the 21st century.

One big attraction is the tax-free business policy, which is successfully designed to bring lots of dollars and brains into the country. More specifically, there are no such things as income tax, business tax, goods and services tax, or u-name-it tax. What you gross is what you net, and no less.

Moving on, Dubai city is being expanded into several specialized communities. The ones already up and running are Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. Others on the way up are Healthcare City, Financial City and Festival City. These are very modern and pre-planned small communities designed to attract the best and the most talented in each relevant field. There are many other projects on the way, some of which are fantastic and others that border on the ridiculous, like the underwater hotel.

With a population of less than one million, Dubai is home to over one hundred and eighty five different nationalities making it one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The annual shopping festival held at the Global Village celebrates this fact, where the theme is one world, one family, one festival. It is truly a multilingual and multicultural environment to live in.

Because of the variety in the nationalities, Dubai offers a huge variety of foods as well. There is every type of restaurant starting from MacDonald's to KFC to Italian to African to Thai to, of course, Middle Eastern and everything in between. Dubai is famous for its seven star hotel called the "Burj al Arab" where a night in the penthouse costs more than a year's wages of some of the town residents. It is known as the most luxurious and expensive hotel on the planet.

As a response to the silicon valleys of the west, Dubai has established its own version of a high tech region called Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. Many of the residents are high profile companies such as MicroSoft, IBM, Reuters, and CNN, along with over 400 other not so high profile companies.

Dubai e-Government is a pioneering initiative in the region to provide online services across the spectrum of corporate and community life in the Emirate. It also has a vision to integrate individually automated government departments under the single umbrella of the e-government initiative, thus empowering employees across lines of businesses and levels of government, besides facilitating the lives of citizens and customers of the government. Dubai has taken a lead in the region in deploying e-government applications and is among the first few governments in the world to provide such integrated services to its citizens.

For entertainment, there are all sorts of concerts held throughout most of the year. The performers range from local artists to international bands such as Sting, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. In his Middle East tour Brian Adams held a successful performance in Dubai 2 years ago and again this year.

In addition to annual rock concerts and Jazz festivals held by world re-known artists, there are many high profile international sporting events that take place here. Just to name a few, there is the, Dubai Tennis Open, Desert Classic golf tournament, The World Championship Hobie Cat sailing race, Dubai 7's Rugby Tournament and the Terry Fox Run.

The infamous Dubai City Center is the most popular shopping center in all of the UAE. As a tourist you will definitely find yourself in this shopping center while staying in Dubai. You will recognize some of the store names like, Ikea, StarBucks café and Virgin Records. Other names that you will recognize while driving around at night looking for a restaurant or a night club are the Hard Rock café and Planet Hollywood with its big gaudy blue sphere.

One last word before I wrap up this episode of Life in Dubai, just next door lays the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where to this day, almost 50% of its population, comprising of Homo sapiens with breasts, is not allowed to drive automobiles.

In contrast, I have had the experience of being chauffeured around by a local female taxi driver, in Dubai. Even more interesting, all the glamour and attraction surrounding Dubai is just a twenty-minute plane ride from Bandar Abbas! But alas, the two are millions of light years apart. To be continued…
Part I

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