Dubai Private Tour
The “city” label doesn’t suit Dubai too much. Nope, that just won’t do. “City” is too…average, too plain-Jane for this over-the-top metropolis. Instead, the largest (and loudest) city-state in the United Arab Emirates prefers to go by multiple monikers, so it has cities within the city.
Bear with me.
There’s the IT center, called Dubai Internet City. The family-oriented shopping/eating/what-to-do-with-the-kids-on-the-weekend hub of Dubai Festival City (home to that “McDonald’s of Furniture,” IKEA.) There’s also a Dubai Media City and even an Old City, except it’s called Old Town, and it’s a very pricey and modern residential area. Even the old comes with a price here.
In reality, they’re just neighbourhoods. But neighbourhoods just sounds too folksy for Dubai, so a parade of Cities it is.
Our first stop after picking us up from the Mövenpick Bur Dubai was Emirates Towers, and although the Jumeirah Emirates Towers is the 5th tallest hotel in the world, it seems puny in this neighbourhood, errr…city – 5 of the top 10 ten tallest residential buildings in the world are nearby at the Dubai Marina.
After a photo-op we headed to the Mall of the Emirates, home to people like this kid – waltzing through the mall with his ski bag……because the Mall of the Emirates is the home to Ski Dubai – the first (and from what I can gather, the only) indoor ski resort in the Middle East.Considering Dubai’s penchant for titles, I was a bit surprised to hear that Ski Dubai is not the largest indoor ski resort– that honour goes to SnowWorld in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, although there are plans afoot to outdo that one when Skipark360° in Sweden gets their act together (which begs the question, “Why does Sweden need an indoor ski resort – don’t they have enough snow?”)
In any case, it was interesting to peek through the Plexiglas to get a glimpse of the lengths people will go to for a half-pipe or half-turn or half-plié or whatever it is that people who ski do.Next up was another photo-op at Atlantis, the mammoth hotel/waterpark located on The Palms man-made islands. The thing about The Palms is that it doesn’t look like you’re on a pile of reclaimed sand dredged from the Persian Gulf when you’re actually on it, it just looks like you’re in a residential neighbourhood (sorry “CITY”) with a big fat waterpark at the end of the block. It’s much more impressive from the air.
The Burj Al Arab was the next stop on our Dubai private tour. I had been inside once before — back in 2006 I went with a friend for High Tea. I capitalize that out of fanciness, because it was pretty fancy (it IS the world’s only seven-star hotel) and because the tea was also 80 bucks per person, so I think it deserves the uppercase treatment for that alone. The tour took us near the entrance (you have to be a guest or have a reservation for High Tea or one of the hifalutin restaurants to get in) and I was just fine with that.Like the Burj Al Arab, the nearby Souk Madinat Jumeirah is pretty fancy too.But like much of Dubai, it’s the type of place that has no soul. It’s more like a mall, with all that A/C and those spotless toilets and that smug boutique-y “look at me, I’m designed to look old, but I’m really quite new” air.There were plenty of trinkets though. That’s something I suppose. And did I mention it had A/C?The real soul of Dubai (if it has one) is in its real souks – the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk in Deira. We took a water taxi to get there.And saw views like this……and folks like this.And spices like these……and incense burners like these.And of course “Natural Viagra”……and fashions for the whole family.And plenty of gold.
This is still Dubai after all.
After the parade of biggest/tallest/showiest that has come to define Dubai, it was nice to see at least a glimmer of its past, and its soul. Even if was wrapped in 24 karats.
Note: My Dubai private tour was compliments of LocalGuiding.com, but the opinions expressed are all mine.