Burj al Arab
Dubai Part II
By Mahin Bahrami
March 5, 2004
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
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.
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
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
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…
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