9 September 2007

First impressions of Dubai

This is going to be a very hectic week but it will also take me to some places that I have not been to before, like Dubai.

I arrived here at 07:40 on Sunday morning and, despite getting next to no sleep on the flight over, managed to grab a few hours of sight seeing before the week's work started with a meeting at 4pm.

Two colleagues and myself took a taxi from the hotel to the old part of town and started by exploring the lanes of shops in Al Ras. What struck me was the amount of cheap plastic toys on sale which contributed to the tatty look to the place, nothing like the Grand Market in Istanbul.

It was bloody hot, around 43c, so we stopped for a drink before too long.

Despite this heat we walked a long way but we did manage to get some shelter as we took a pedestrian tunnel under the river.

When the heat finally got too much for us we took another taxi to an air-conditioned mall for some food and some window shopping.

We went to the Mall of the Emirates which is famous for its ski slope with real snow. The mall was spotless and was kept that way by people's tidy behavior and by a small army of people who cleared food tables and swept floors, etc.

The prices seemed to be little, if any, different to those at home so we came home empty handed.

Along the seafront is where all the new building is going on and there is masses and masses of it, a brash mix of office blocks, flats and estates of luxury houses. Those that are being built on manufactured islands are famous but there are several inland schemes too, including one that looks to be trying to recreate some of the feel of Venice.

I am not sure who is going to buy all these new properties but obviously the developers, and their financial backers, are confident that the market is there as the amount of new build is truly staggering.

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