Dubai | Let's go to the mall.

Day 3. So this was the day that we went to Barracuda and Emaar Square.  Before our refreshments at the Address Hotel, we walked through Dubai Mall.  It's massive.  When I returned to California everyone asked me about how ornate and extravagant Dubai was, and it really wasn't too much in my opinion, but I'd say their malls are.  Mall of the Emirates is probably the pinnacle of that over-the-top the locals strive for, but that's for another post.  In general these malls in Dubai were a sight just in and of themselves, every store you could imagine, a labyrinth of stairs, walkways and atriums and features like huge screens, fountains and an aquarium.

Walking around, local women carried shopping bags from expensive clothing stores, a stark contrast to their nearly all black coverings.  A burqua or abaya (I couldn't figure out what to call it) covered most of their body while the hijab covered their head.  I wondered how often these women could wear their expensive clothes or even if they were wearing them under their coverings.  Fascinating.

I thought about this video when I was walking around. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GF1b1pf9DRY]

Dubai | contradictions

Day 3. As Dave put it, Dubai is full of contradictions.  You'll see Arab women dressed modestly from head to toe, then you'd see a westerner in booty shorts and a tank top.  Although it is conservative in many ways, Dubai seems as if it tolerated Western cultural practices.  Another example was the strict laws against the consumption of alcohol.  You weren't supposed to drink unless you had a license.  However, many of the big hotels serve alcohol so locals and expats alike could drink at their leisure if they really wanted to.  This is what the U.S. Department of State had to say about it.

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Public drunkenness and driving under the influence, regardless of one’s blood alcohol content level, are considered serious offenses. Persons arrested on alcohol-related offenses are often jailed for many days as they await a court hearing. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences and fines and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings.

So it was the third day of our trip and our first official full day in Dubai.  I woke up at a semi-reasonable/jetlagged hour.  The light in Dave's apartment was beautiful.  Light streaming in from full length windows, touching everything in sight.  Dave owned his own business and had to work, so I intended to work as well, getting as much editing as I could done.  After a couple hours of work, my computer died, so I was left to my own devices.  Reading and writing and listening to stories from Dave and Geoff would have to occupy my time.  In hindsight that was my opportunity to take advantage of the gym and pool, but alas, I forgot! Nuts.

By the early afternoon when the weather had (relatively) cooled, Dave finished his work and we embarked on our first excursion.  I sat in the backseat, in awe of fact that I was in the Middle East.  Surrounded by desert and random sparse clusters of buildings, we made our way along the highway.  Dave's new (used) car took us to another emirate out by the water/beach.  Our first destination would be to Barracuda in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain.  Supposedly it was legal to purchase alcohol in that emirate.  So we got some drinks for our holiday and stocked Dave up for his home.  It was very odd.  Everyone in the store was an expat/tourist.

Along the way home we saw wild camels crossing.  I wanted to scream/squeal with excitement, but I refrained for fear of alarming the guys.  It was thrilling.  Camels are such lovely creatures, majestic even.

Once home, we unloaded our "blue-bags-of-shame" (evidently everyone knows the contents of those bags) and got ready to head to Emaar Square to see Dubai Mall, The Address Hotel and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

Emaar Square is really quite incredible.  When we drove along Dubai Mall, I felt as if I was in southern California or Vegas.  The buildings were ornate and a bit gaudy, definitely catering to the consumer.  We walked along a body of water that featured fountain shows accompanied by music much like the ones at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  The Burj Khalifa was quite beautiful with its elegant and minimalist (as much as you can, I suppose, for being the tallest building in the world) in its design.  Admiring it reminded me how much I love architecture. After exploring the square and the mall, we headed to the outdoor terrace of The Address Hotel overlooking the square for some refreshments.

Click on the links to learn more about the places I visited/saw.

I'll share about the Dubai Mall another time, for now, here's what I saw. (The last picture is the view from The Address Hotel.)