All that glitters is Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Deserts? Indoor skiing-slopes? Worlds tallest building? Man made islands shaped like palm trees? Gold markets? If it’s possible to construct it, it’s in Dubai. The constant drive to be the best at everything they do, and often achieving that goal as well, brings your thoughts to Las Vegas, but the similarities ends there. Dubai is a mishmash of skyscrapers, gold markets, ancient Mosques and deserts.

A visit to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is a must. It’s an impressive glass building measuring a staggering 828m (2717 ft.) and is truly a symbol for Dubai’s aim for the top. The nearby Mall of Dubai housing a huge gold market, some 1 200 shops, theme parks, ice rinks etc. is a great way to ”escape” the heat for a few hours.

The seemingly unending cash flow and progressive investments has turned Dubai into an ultramodern city where progress is everything, steadily keeping both feet in traditional Islam beliefs but keeping a constant eye on life in the west. This is a city where almost anything can be bought if you have enough money but holding hands (man-woman), showing affection in public or showing to much skin is a big no-no.

One might expect to find the streets filled with emirati men in long white ankle-length shirts (Kandura) and emirati women in covered in black over-garment (Abaya). In reality this is hardly the case, indeed this is the preferred dress code, but most people you encounter in Dubai is the myriad of (mainly) Indian and Pakistani foreign workers.

Our stay in Dubai was limited to less then four days so we had to be effective. Arriving late in Dubai we walked around for countless hours trying to get a feel of what Dubai nightlife had to offer. Surprisingly the streets felt empty and one thing that caught our attention was the lack of women out at night. During our first 8 hours not a single one of the numerous people we encountered was female. Since roughly 30% of the population in Dubai is female we expected to see mainly men but it still felt different from back home in northern Sweden.

After countless of hours sightseeing by foot it became evident that Dubai is not made for pedestrians. The metro is one of best metro systems I’ve ever experienced but lack of connections and the rest of the city being made to cater cars and cars only makes commuting difficult. Soar feet is to be expected for people aiming for greener and cheaper ways of travel.

Trying to get to Burj al Arab, which is consider to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, took us almost 3 hours when relying only on walking and metro. We got to experience a beautiful sunset by the beach when we finally got there so I guess it was worth it.

If you love food then your gonna love Dubai. Almost every cuisine in the world is represented here. Ranging from simple food stalls to Michelin star restaurants you’ll hardly starve. As a vegan there’s countless of alternatives, I would highly recommend the Indian and Lebanese. Even places like McDonalds had some extensive vegan food options, though I advice you to try the local food before heading for the fast food restaurants.

During our visit we stayed in a district called Bur Dubai, one of the older parts of the city and the residence for the many expats working round the clock to keep the dream alive. After just a few hours into our visit it becomes clear how dependent Dubai is on their foreign workforce.

For Emiratis and multi corporations Dubai is the land of opportunities. Sadly, as in most cases, the future for the majority of the city’s guest workers is less bright.  With monthly salaries ranging from 100-200 USD it’s hardly the millions advertised. Working conditions has been described by Human Rights Watch as ”less then human” and it’s hard to ignore the evident gaps in social status when visiting Dubai.

Dubai is an amazing city and a bit of glitter and gold is always nice, but I can’t help but having a slightly bad feeling about where they’re heading. Waiting to board our flight to Manila, our next destination, I just can’t help but questioning, do this kind of progress always have to be on the expense of others?

***Update*** Serious wi-fi issues in Manila. Pictures coming:)

  • Neaa_

    Hej och hå!
    Vad bra du skriver Olov. Men lååångt :) Hoppas du orkar hålla i skrivandet under hela resan.
    Det är svinkallt i Umeå eller ja.. nu är det mildare. Men -23 grader i en hel vecka med blåst var inte sköj.

    Jag saknar er!
    Sköt hand om er!!!!
    Kramar (Ebba hälsar) //Linnéa

    • olovlindgren@me.com

      Tackar! Jo, det blev kanske lite väl långt:) Har gått lite segt med skrivandet men ska försöka hålla upp det. Krävs nog bara att man ska komma igång. Jo, jag hörde att det var kallt i Umeå just nu. Något varmare här;) Saknar er med! Hade bra! /Olov

  • Emma Bjorklund

    Olov, vad gör du på MM?! Du ska ju för bövelen författa. Otroligt välskrivet och roligt att höra hur ni har det!
    Äter bullar hos Emma och läser din blogg. Hoppas ni har det jättebra där ni är nu. Hälsa Lina och var rädd om fötterna.

    Kram,
    Frida, Emma och Alma

    • olovlindgren@me.com

      Tack!:) Vi har det bara fint. Är i Kuala Lumpur just nu. Hälsa alla! /Olov

  • Christine Yttersjo

    Hej på er! Vad hände 11-02-24 ? Hör av er ! Christine

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