Dubai Journals

Dubai: Hong Kong Wannabe

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A July 2005 trip to Dubai by Overlander

Dubai International Airport Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates More Photos
Quote: Ten years ago or so, Shaikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum of Dubai stated publicly that he wanted Dubai to become the "new Hong Kong." This was no idle boast. This tiny emirate on the Arabian Gulf coast is fast becoming just that. It has glitz, glamour, and extraordinary panache.

Dubai: Hong Kong Wannabe

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Overview

Dubai International Airport Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
Dubai is a bit of a commercial miracle. My wife and I first saw the city in 1987 while on our way to Nepal. It had one "real" high-rise, the World Trade Center, which was far out on the eastern edge of town in the desert. Now, it’s just one of a few dozen skyscrapers on Shaikh Zayed Road. In 1987 there was very little entertainment; now there’s always something going on, from the extraordinary Dubai Shopping Festival in the spring to world-class tennis, Formula One races, and jet-boat competitions. Big name entertainers show up, e.g., Jon Bon Jovi; multinationals schedule conferences there; and the list goes on. If you’re a first time visitor, you should try to book a hotel on The Creek, the deep, ...Read More

The Fairmont Hotel Dubai

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Hotel | "The Fairmont Dubai"

The Fairmont Hotel Dubai Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
I'll state it flat out and upfront: The Fairmont is the best hotel my wife and I have ever been privileged to stay in, bar none. Service:Absolutely superb, from registration all the way to check-out. The desk clerks and the concierge were on top of things all the time, always smiling, willing to take the time to explain things, e.g., directions, and always available to help in any way possible. Five-star hotel staff, in our experience, fall into two categories: the patronizing and the obsequious. Each is equally odious, but neither was evident here. Facilities:Two swimming pools, one of which is always in the shade, something very important in th...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 31, 2005

The Fairmont Hotel Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Road
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
(971) 4-332-5555

Le Meridien Dubai Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
It's hard to go wrong in any 4- or 5-star hotel in Dubai. Typically, the service was excellent from check-in to check-out. Since I was in transit between the US and Oman, I was only in the hotel for about 8 hours, and I arrived quite exhausted. And even though KLM was picking up the tab, I was not treated any differently from what I would have been had I been paying for it myself. The hotel offers all the usual amenities and then some: spas, exercise rooms, swimming pools, and no fewer than 15 restaurants, which are spread between the Le Meridien Airport and the adjacent Meridien Village. As for room service, it was downright swift: It was 12 minutes max between the time I called in my order...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 2, 2005

Le Meridien Dubai
Airport Road
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+97 142 824 040

Fatafeet

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Restaurant

Fatafeet Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
Fatafeet, which means "crumbs" in Arabic, is probably the most attractive creek-side restaurant in Dubai. The location couldn't be better: Situated on the Bur Dubai side of the creek more or less opposite the space-age Etisalat Building (UAE's telecom headquarters), you can watch abras and dhows cruising up and down the waterway amid the shimmering reflections of the lights from the buildings as well--quite stunning. The food is very good for what it is: the menu consists mainly of typically Arab kebabs, dips, and mezzes or appetizers. Homous here is absolutely wonderful, with just the right amount of garlic and lime juice but no overwhelming taste of tahina. The kibbee a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2005

Fatafeet
Bur Dubai
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 4 397 9222

Sheikhs Saeed House

Attraction | "Shaikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House"

Sheikhs Saeed House Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
Built originally in 1896, the house served both as a residence for the ruling shaikh and his family and as a fort protecting the entry to the Creek. As was typical of the period, the structure was built of blocks of coral covered with lime and plaster. The house encloses a courtyard with four wind towers, which funnel the slightest breeze downward into the living quarters to keep it as cool as possible. Consisting of dozens of rooms, many of which have are furnished with period pieces, it housed five Maktoum families in both single and two-storey apartments. The present government of Dubai has spent an enormous amount of money restoring the house. Before the restoration, it lay virtually in total ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2005

Sheikhs Saeed House
Shindagha
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 4 3937139

Shopping in the Old Covered Suq Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
There's little left of the old traditional covered suqs any more. The closest you can come is a relatively small mini-suq that is located along the Creek not far from the Dubai Museum on the Bur Dubai side of the waterway. Here, depending on the time of day, you'll find the usual crowded stalls with goods piled helter-skelter around. Although you may not find much of any real interest -- most of the goods are pretty cheap and meant for locals generally -- you will find plenty of atmosphere. And it certainly is a respite from the usual glitz and glamour of Dubai's amazing malls with their inflated, international prices. In terms of goods that ARE available here, it's mostly fabrics, incens...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 6, 2005

Shopping in the Old Covered Suq
Parallel to the Creek
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Creek

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Attraction | "A Stroll along the Creek"

Dubai Creek Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
More than any other feature, the Creek epitomizes Dubai in the minds of Gulf residents. This is where the emirate originated. This once shallow estuary gave Dubai fishermen, pearl divers, and merchants a base of operations; traders and smugglers from here plied the waters of the Gulf and the Arabian Sea, some venturing as far as the coast of East Africa. And however sophisticated, glitzy, and high-tech Dubai becomes, the booms and small trading vessels still tie up here. Walking along the splendid corniche that has been built along its shores, you’re as apt to hear conversation in Malayalam, Tamil, Singhala, or Farsi as in Arabic. Vessels come in loaded with teak logs, rice, and spic...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 6, 2005

Dubai Creek

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Ibn Battuta Mall

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Attraction | "Ibn Batuta Mall"

Ibn Battuta Mall Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
Ibn Batuta Mall, named for a legendary 14th-century Arab traveler, is (I think) the latest of a whole string of spectacular shopping malls that have sprung up all over Dubai. This kilometer-long complex encloses a series of "courts," each themed to reflect major destinations visited by the old traveler over the course of 29 eventful years. There is not a little Vegas in the overall concept and design; indeed, I suspect the local financier who first conceived of the place must have spent a whole lot of time on the Strip and especially at the Venetian. (See photos below)The shops in the mall tend to be high-end: Gucci, Versace, Swarowski, and Patek Phillippe are all represented, th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 2, 2005

Ibn Battuta Mall
Jumairah Beach Road
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Museum

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Attraction | "The Dubai Museum"

Dubai Museum Photo, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Quote:
The Dubai Museum is arguably the best museum of cultural history in the entire Gulf region. Although it lacks the archaeological treasures of the Bahrain Museum in Manama, it more than makes up for that failing with its array of splendidly conceived and executed dioramas depicting the street life of pre-petrodollar Dubai. There is also a superb collection of early rifles, pistols, and daggers (khanjars). Located along the Creek on the Bur Dubai side, it is housed in the old Al-Fahidi Fort, thought to be the oldest building in the Emirate of Dubai. At one time or another, the structure has been used as a military post, the residence of the local ruler, a jail, an ammunition dump, a...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 19, 2005

Dubai Museum
Al Fahidi Fort
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 4 353 1862