“Welcome to the city of contrasts, sandy dunes and skyscrapers, camels and fast cars, museums and shopping centers, welcome to Dubai”, says one of the guide books I bought in the city. However, the first things you notice are tall buildings and shopping malls, and the ever prevailing yellowish and grayish colors. At least that’s how it is in August.
Dominant colors of the city during summer are gray and beige because of the heat and high humidity, along with the desert the city is located in. Even the sky is somewhat beige-ish (not blue). The wide six-lane road (per direction) that stretches along the city, and streets around it – they are all gray, while buildings are made of glass and concrete in gray or beige tones.
When the sun peaks up and the temperature goes higher than 40-45 degrees Celsius, there are no people on the streets. (You might want to check out the Weather In August.)
From time to time the city gets hit by sandstorm. Then you see “the whole package”.
It so happened that I could not go out, sandy wind was blowing from all directions, only few cars were to be seen on the road, being white or black, and it has all disappeared in gray and beige tones once again. And it gives you the creeps…
Magnificent city, despite all
The city was built by Emirates’ authority in a place that few could even think of – in a desert along the cost of the Gulf – and why not, if they have enough funds to support it. But one cannot help but think of SF scene!
What will this city be like in a couple of dozens, hundreds of years, when fossil resources go dry, when its “era” passes? It did happen to great cities throughout history after all. Especially if they have sprung up in the midst of hostile environments. Just imagine, once “the biggest”, “the tallest”, “the most expensive” buildings would just peak from the sand!
Still, Dubai might surprise us once again and (regarding technology, investments, hiring experts from around the Globe), it might even alter the climate in this area. Why not? Because after all, Dubai wants us to believe that miracles do come true. At least here they might.
Skyscrapers which rip the sky open and do not fit into camera lenses, modern buildings, impeccable subway. Small New York or Singapore, one could say, but on the other hand – in the middle of the desert on some corner of the Arab Peninsula. That is why one has to respect the effort. We get reminded that a human being is capable of great things and ideas, even in seemingly unbearable conditions.
Summer vacation, in winter
Nevertheless, if you are planning your summer holiday, don’t even think about Dubai! The city has all you can possibly need of course, but it is all utterly impractical during summer, May to November. If you want to spend time outdoors (at least an hour!), skip the summer.
Also, if you thought that the sea might cool you down, think again! The sea is even hotter that it is outside on the beach. Shallow waters stretch for dozens of meters from the shore. It is more like a kettle filled with boiling soup than a warm bath! Due to the heat and evaporation (or some other reason), the sea is too salty. Just try to dive your face in and open your eyes! Bars and restaurants with lovely terraces are useless during summer months, they either don’t work or function indoors with air conditioning.
On the other hand, if you are among those who like to escape from Europe during winter, away from all that snow and minuses, Dubai is a great choice. Temperatures are more than pleasant, about 25 degrees Celsius, there will be some breeze, the humidity disappears from the air, the sea cools down, and the whole city goes down to the seaside, to gardens and parks which turn green and to those bars’ balconies that burst with all the variety of nations and languages echoing the city for decades.
However, there is one reason go to Dubai at any season. You have guessed it, it’s shopping! As soon as you land at the airport, you will notice that everything is subordinated to a consumer. Not only that those tax-free prices are advertised everywhere, being lower than in Europe after all, but also the problem of the uncomfortable climate is somewhat overcome. Taxi can be stopped in front of every hotel or you can just speed up to the nearest metro station, and you will be driven right to mall entrances. If you go by metro, have in mind that every train station is connected to shopping malls by well chilled air conditioned tunnel-bridges. You almost don’t get to feel the heat outside!
Shopping malls are totally adjusted and they include restaurants, ATM machines, supermarkets, amusement parks, bars. Everything you need during those hot months you will be able to find in shopping malls, or at least you will be led to go through them. Pretty clever having in mind that one’s eye gets easily caught up by various discounts. And perhaps, I was just walking through in order to see the tallest tower in the world on the other side of the mall. Well, perhaps.
Next: SHARKS IN THE MALL (3)
The full Dubai SERIES