Travel

A modern world in the desert: the United Arab Emirates

Stunning safaris in the desert, back-to-back adventures, cars stuck in the sand and the struggles to get them out. Then there are the nighttime campfires, “karak” tea being drunk around them and fake ski centers filled with crowds in a country where the temperature outside averages around 35-40 degrees Celsius. Or what about the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the incredible views of Dubai one can get from its terrace? Add to all this, enormous shopping centers, air-conditioned bus stops, metro stations that look like space stations and huge golf courses with large areas of green grass. Yes, this is the United Arab Emirates.
 
Now we find ourselves on this manmade island called Palmiye or Palm Jumeira. This island is filled with villas and apartments, and giant apartment buildings. At one end of the island is a large hotel called Atlantis. The UAE is growing and developing quickly. Who knows, perhaps soon we will see new cities like this spring up near here?
 
We enter a large shopping center; there are many like this throughout the UAE, and they are all huge. The one we enter is called the Dubai Mall. It is one of the largest in the world; this one is so huge that it even boasts an enormous ice-skating rink in the middle of it. There is also an aquarium so large that is listed in the Guinness World Records; this attracts lots of visitors, both foreign and local.
 
As for air-conditioned bus stops, don’t ask if this is possible: It is! Dubai has them, and it is the first time we have seen them anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s a pretty natural choice for a country as hot as the UAE.

People are very pleased, of course, with this type of service from the government. We immediately head to a bus stop to check it out for ourselves; the difference in temperature between here and outside is dramatic. There is no doubt about it, the passengers here are happy.
 


Keeping cool in the bus

With the afternoon temperatures around 35-40 degrees Celsius, the temperature inside the bus stop is about 21 degrees. One interesting note is that since most local Arabs all have their own (presumably air-conditioned) cars, it is really only foreigners who use these air-conditioned bus stops. These foreigners are generally people who have come from other countries to work here.
 
The Dubai metro stations are also quite luxurious; they look a bit like space stations, and also boast air-conditioning as well as modern architecture.
 
We visit a golf course in Dubai. The city boasts some enormous golf courses, and they are really filled with people who love golf. We can’t help noticing that Dubai has mastered the art of getting green grass to grow in the middle of the desert.
 
We jump into a golf cart and start touring this huge golf course, although we are warned by our guide to watch out for flying golf balls, especially ones that could hit our heads. One more note on the golf scene here: This is not a cheap sport. Players need to calculate that they will spending around $200 for just four hours of golf.
 
And we arrive at the Dubai Museum. There are lines of Arab students here, waiting to get in and see exhibits that largely depict scenes and moments from their own history.
 
There is much more to describe and see in the UAE; if you find yourself there one day, you will see for yourself just what an interesting adventure you can really have here.

Osman SEZER
Email: osman@thelondonpost.co.uk

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