Monday, 3 June 2013

Dubai- the perfect mini break but a bit of a bank breaker

My last post was about bad stuff (somewhat of a theme since moving here) so I thought I would dedicate this one to writing about our weekend away in Dubai. After the plane trauma was over we had an excellent time. You could argue that in comparison to our lives in the great prison of Saudi Arabia anything would seem wonderful, but Dubai really is very cool. It reminded me of London in lots of ways: sexy and overpriced. The difference is that when I lived in London I would rarely do things full price, instead seeking out deals on meals out and shows etc.
At the airport we wasted no time in buying alcohol in duty free, as did most other people getting off the plane. Being a Muslim country, the U.A.E meets the west half way by limiting alcohol purchasing to the bars and clubs in hotels. Although I suspect there may be more of a financial rather than religious element to only selling it bars, as the drinks are seriously expensive and therefore the tax is high. We got a bottle of Jim Beam at the airport which we drank half of that evening just sitting in our hotel room chatting. I've really missed drink fuelled chats this year.  
As it seems to be with Muslims we meet in other countries, there is a general dislike of Saudis. From the airport we took a taxi with a Palestinian driver, born in the U.A.E. He told us that Saudis are the reason for the 'no eating or drinking' policy in taxis because they are so messy and disrespectful. He was also adamant that the burka is unnecessary and not a requirement of Islam. When we saw a woman thus dressed crossing the road in front of us he said, 'Look, there's one of those black things.' Haha.

On Thursday we went to Wild Wadi Waterpark. It was amazing, but pretty steep at around 35 pounds each.

With the backdrop of Dubai's 7 star hotel
Surfers wave 

The most intense ride at the park was the Jumeirah Sceirah. It's not till you get to the front of the queue at the top of the tower that you realise exactly what this ride involves and by then it's too embarrassing to back out (although a lot of people did, mainly fully grown men). There are two capsules with glass covers which me and Lee got in side by side, instructed to fold our arms over our chests, cross our ankles and put our heads back. The glass tops were closed over us and locked. Then came the count down 3-2-1 and the floor disappeared from under us sending us shooting-at apparently up to 80km/h- down the flume. It was so fast it was hard to scream. My legs were shaking so much afterwards that I had to sit down!
I loved the fake beach with wave machine. It was so relaxing to sit at the 'shore' letting the small waves crash over you. I didn't take any decent photos so here's one I found on the internet:

There was a vast mix of people at the water park, from many different countries. Some women chose to wear wet suit type things to cover their bodies- I understand this, if that's what you want to do. There were, however, at least two women in full blown burkas. One was with her children- I suppose I understand this; she wanted to watch her kids have fun, even if she couldn't have any herself. Another woman was walking around with her husband, not doing anything except looking through the slit of her niqab. In my opinion that's just expensive and pointless. 
She was in stark contrast to the Russian girls who in their teeny bikinis (some thongs) appeared united in their disregard of the notion of respect for other cultures.

In the evening we watched the dancing fountains next to Dubai Mall, which reminded me very much of Vegas. It's kinda embarrassing that water moving in time to Whitney Houston's 'I will always love you' could get me all emotional, but as I contemplated our year anniversary I found myself a little teary. Ahhhhhhh.
We then went up the Burj Kalifa, the worlds tallest tower. It was fun although we felt a tad conned by the slogan 'At the Top' that was printed on our tickets. As you can see from this picture, when we arrived at the viewing platform we found we were nowhere near.

Apparently everything higher is used as office space. Huh.

We went to a couple of bars that night and I have to say they were somewhat of a majorly overpriced disappointment. The 'indie music poolside outdoor bar' sounded promising, but in reality was a load of posers standing around looking cool and not dancing, with cocktails priced at ten pounds a pop. After that we went to 'The Catwalk Nightclub' at our hotel, which to Lee's delight was playing heavy rock music. The evening showed me that whilst I was grateful that Dubai has a nightlife, it would get boring quite quickly. Due to all the clubs and bars being in hotels, there is an atmosphere of the clinical and contrived. There's no potential of a gig at a dingy grimy bar, or of stumbling across a hidden gem of a pub.
Before heading to the airport on Friday we did some shopping in Dubai Mall. In keeping with the style of Dubai, this is no ordinary Mall- it has an aquarium inside. I was impressed because you don't have to pay to get in to enjoy the huge tank that houses sharks, stingray, tons of fish and even scuba diving cleaners.

And that was the end. Back to the airport and back to Riyadh for our final stint of boredom!
I thought Dubai was wonderful and would recommend it to anyone, although you have to be careful of that hole burning in your pocket.




  1. Aw amazing! I am so glad you guys had such a great time.

  2. sounds like a weekend is enough! glad you's were able to have a little fun time together for your anniversary and your birthday Rachel before back to work, take care see you's soon uncle Rod


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