After everything you have seen, heard and experienced, you try to sum up your impressions.
A day to rest a bit, without touring around the city. And I have promised myself to try and have that machiato at the balcony, in a cafe on the promenade, outside, with newspapers in my hands – regardless to those 45 degrees. Still, I made sure to come early in the morning, hoping that there will be less humidity at eight a.m. There was only one cafe in Dubai Marina opening its terrace, since they usually open at 10. The promenade is ghostly empty, except for one more enthusiast who was obviously hoping to be able to jog this early… I turned the page of my newspapers, looked around – cranes again.
Cranes pinned city
In the forest of modern city tall buildings, all shiny with glass and concrete, there is a crane on almost every corner.
You have to be surprised by the fact that the city is yet to be finished, since construction sites are everywhere, workers, traffic redirecting. There should have been a new tram line in Dubai Marina, which was at the time I was there covered in sand and bricks. Another surprise when we were going towards so often praised Palm Jumeira artificial island, shaped as a palm tree. We were told that it is very difficult to live there during summer since small drops often pour down the apartment walls due to such humidity.
Going along the „tree trunk“ with building blocks on both sides and than those privately owned „palm branches“, right before you reach famous luxury Atlantis Hotel, there is a huge hole in the ground. Above, a bridge, small train station on it, special line for the Palm. But actually, one more construction underneath. In a year or two, they say, new shopping mall is going to emerge there, and it will probably be – the biggest, of course!
Shiny Christmasy lights
It also crosses my mind that all those buildings I was surrounded by at the moment, can only be discerned at night.
No wonder they are marked by those flashing lights in order to be visible to airplanes. All those colored lights flash every night, just like those wrapped around palm trees. Like during the Christmas season in Europe! One of Serbian guys who lives and works in Dubai said that the city is celebrating New Year’s Eve „all year round“.
The same impression you get during weekends (Fridays and Saturdays in Emirates).
Most foreigners work Sundays to Thursdays, looking forward to weekends. They rarely go out or socialize during work days, being either from Serbia, Britain, Australia, Russia, but than on Thursday nights they pour down towards bars and clubs. It becomes more visible during summer since they all hurry home because of the heat outside, spending more time indoors and getting up early the next morning. But during weekends… That’s another story.
More expensive than in Europe
It gets dark, people crawl out, taking cabs and rushing towards big hotels. There, you can find night clubs of various sorts – Arabic, Russian, British. Alcohol is pouring, smoking is allowed. Cigarettes are cheaper than in Serbia and smoking is prohibited in all shopping malls, restaurants, metro stations.
Alcohol is not allowed anywhere in cafes and restaurants, except for those clubs and bars within hotels. A pint of beer, for example, is five times more expensive than in Serbia, and at least three times more than anywhere in Europe. If you want to buy a bottle or two for you friends coming to dinner, than you would have to visit one of those specialized stores and shop – only with the „alcohol licence“. In order to get that licence foreigners who work in Dubai should apply for it, they get a piece of plastic with all the important ID data and they are allowed to buy alcohol valued at their monthly earnings.
Regular clubs and cafes („regular“ according to European habits), are usually isolated and you get overwhelmed by the scene behind those huge, heavy, wooden doors opened by the huge guy at the entrance.
Stand-up comedy and buckets of beer
English and Irish pubs are frequent here. It is understandable since British dominate among other Europeans. Also, Dubai was in British control for a long time.
Thus, large British supermarkets are located in most of the shopping malls and all the street signs are written in both Arabic and English.
Once a month you can go to stand-up comedy nights with UK guests-comedians. „I have seen a bidet in my hotel bathroom“, said one of them we went to see: „We don’t have that in Liverpool, we don’t even know what the bidet is for. But, I’m not a lazy guy, I mean, not a hick for God sake, I let the water in and – put my beer to cool down!“
Mostly British audiance was laughing loudely, enjoying the evening, and holding small tin buckets with ice and beer bottles they bought at the entrance.
„Welcome to Dubai“
…Than you glance at those newspapers once again, Arabic in English, while having that machiato in the Italian cafe at eight in the morning, looking at towers in the midst of sand and humidity, expensive speedboats which sway on the surface of that boiling sea…
There is a story of Emirati woman who appealed to court because she was not allowed to marry again. It says that she is a widow, but according to the national law, she has to be granted the second marriage by a male member of the family – father, brother or a son. But her father was dead, her brother is in Canada and her son is only 11. So now, as the article goes, the court is supposed to decide if her son is „old enough“ to decide upon such matter. If it rules that he is too young, the woman would have to wait until he grows up…
I look around again, thinking about that Emirati woman. English girl passes by wearing short skirt, sun glasses and flipflops. Nothing unusal for the streets of Dubai. But still, she must be using those special metro cars when going to work, intended for women and children only, since it would not be that pleasant in those other, unisex, wagons, not dressed like that anyway…
You close those newspapers, smile to yourself and think: „Oh well, welcome to Dubai!“