Our Dubai Trip – Reaching the land of Skyscrapers

A longing for a foreign trip was the primary motivator for planning the trip to Dubai. Though Dubai only made it very late to the list of candidates but having a close friend at Dubai and the comfort of rich hospitality sort of makes it easier. Also the fact that its not too far from Delhi and would involve least hassle in terms of Visas, helped us to seal the deal. We played frugal and decided to spend only 3 days, hoping that it would be enough.

Dubai Marina

Dubai is a State with-in UAE (United Arab Emirates). UAE was established in 1971 as a federation of seven emirates viz. Abu Dhabi (its capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain and Fujairah. HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has been President since beginning, and HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, has been Vice President (also concurrently Prime Minister) since 1990. Its located in Persian Gulf, middle-east Asia. Off late Dubai has come up as a busy center of tourists courtesy massive development by Maktoum. It is said that Maktoum is the builder of Dubai who had made possible creating a fortune out of nothing. He had the vision to convert Dubai from a small desert city to a oasis of splurge and luxury. Dubai shopping festival attracts millions of people from Europe and elsewhere. A country which has just 7% of locals, is run by expats, mostly Asians viz. Indians, Pakistanis and Filipinos. There are sun starved Europeans and probably natives of the some of the other nations. Dubai would be the most cosmopolitan country in the world.

Unlike some of the other States Dubai doesn’t have any Oil and all of its economy is driven by tourism and business. Its not very surprising to know that there is no ‘Income Tax’ in Dubai, or for that matter any ‘government Tax’. As my host said that one thing which Maktoum is doing very well is marketing the whole thing correctly. Its really inspiring to know that a country which had no money (no Oil), no natural resources, not a highly skilled work-force and a not-so-tender weather, has been able to create a amazingly rich center of business. Great work HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum sir.

So lets start from the Radio Taxi, Easycabs, which dropped us in-time. We were flying Emirates (23K odd per person return includes Visa and Insurance) since that meant that you get Visa easily. Also, with a small kid you tend to get a little more protective. There are other flights which would come out a little more economical and it can come down to as low as 15K per person return. Since its a short-haul, I would think that one should actively explore these other options and save some moolah for a good Himalayan-break after you are back from Dubai.

There was a little hassle while check-in and emigration since the Visa was just a piece of paper having some codes. There was no Visa Stamp on the passport. Emigration folks wanted Emirates to vet the travel (Ready to Board kind of stamp) and this confusion let me do at least three rounds between the Emigration counter and the Check-in counter. The flight was on time. It was a Boeing, a really long Boeing, the in-flight entertainment was superb with everyone having their own screens, a large collections of TV Series and Movies, good food and we realized that we would be touching down in a while.

As I looked down, I saw only sand and yellow color (and I missed green very badly for next three days). My memories of Jaisalmer paled in comparison to what I saw from up. As long as one could see, it was all yellow sand with occasional black tar strips. Dubai Airport is not one of those big airports like Changi or Heathrow or JFK and we were out after customary checks. As we stepped out, the new Dubai was all over. Wide shiny roads with its own selection of best of cars gleaming past, clean and organized spaces and most importantly, tall towers. We were to stay at Dubai Marina, an upmarket sub-urb sort of Dubai which is gradually turning into one of the busiest business and housing complexes.

If you have been to any big US city then try to imagine the traffic and roads which you have seen there, those long wide fast roads with only cars and no other kind of vehicle, each zooming past in excess of 100 KMPH. Its a left hand drive and it was interesting to see our local desi cars there viz. Swift, City, SX4 among Hummers, Landrovers and what not. If you take a deep breadth and try to brood over, you might realize that this place has just been done-up last night. As I looked around, it seemed to me that this town didn’t exist the previous weekend. It was all new, all modern. Not a very great feeling to have.

By late afternoon, we were very nicely tucked in our friend’s centrally air conditioned rented residence at Hotel Harbor, Dubai Marina overlooking almost all of Dubai from 42nd floor. Every time you find your self in the elevator, you get a little dizzy. We timed that it was doing one floor per second. Crazy feeling. My apartment elevator is 4 times slower. And its not crazy.

Rich and Powerful own a Yacht here

Here are some more shots from the balcony. Later a friend in saadi Delhi commented that she always thought that these kind of photos were taken from a plane or something like that.


The Haze

If you would notice then you see a haze. This photo was taken under a very bright sun so there was enough light. The haze is because of the all the dust owing to massive construction happening all around.

In the evening, we got out and went to ‘Mall of Emirates’. MoE is one of the largest malls in Dubai which look exceptionally similar to ‘Great India Place Mall’ in Noida, UP. There are usual stores like ‘Home Town’, ‘Jumbo Electronics’, ‘Carrefour’ and so on. The highlight of the mall is this Ski centre. You can do ski-ing right in Dubai within this mall.Ski Dubai started in December 2005 and is the world’s third largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 meters and using 6000 tons of snow. Dubai skiing resort is the first Dubai indoor ski slope to open. I do not have any pics but you can check out more at their website. It didn’t seem like a real big place, more like a large banquet hall which has ski slopes where one can do things which you would do in a ski slope. We didn’t venture in though.

Mall of Emirates

One other thing which we noticed was the presence of Indians everywhere, almost all the worker class is from here. Almost every driver, every watch man, every guard, every counter-boy is from here. You can survive in this city if you know Hindi.

Does it remind you of GIP, Noida

We were back and by then the weather was a little less demanding. In the night those large towers look exceptionally bright and here are some final pics.

Count them. There are going to be 200 in Dubai Marina alone

with each touching sky

As we crashed on the spring bed donning a shiny white sheet and large fluffy cushions, I was thinking that wont one feel a little claustrophobic with all the cement around and not a green fig. Also, if it matters, then it was those Navaratri weeks and the ‘water of life’ was missing. I reminded myself to compensate the loss by having more whenever I get next opportunity.

Hang on for more fun as I write on Dubai Desert Safari and the ‘City Tour’.


  • Patrick Jones says:

    Three days in Dubai? I spent one day and think thats enough unless you are a shopaholic. A few minutes of driving around, a visit to the beach and the desert thats it. The absence of green and the all-pervading white dust thought it was the desert sand was a little too much even after Delhi.

    Hope a Pakistani is not going to read this post. He definitely is not going to like the usage ;-)

  • nandanjha says:

    I think you summarized it right. We were under the protection of a nice host so better off but probably if we would have been to fend for ourselves, our green thoughts would have ruled.

    I fixed the usage. Didn’t realize.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Lovely description supplemented by some good pictures.

    Though I have seen Dubai in magazines and movies, I didn’t know much about the history and progress made by this tiny nation during the last four decades and that too without the support of any natural resources. Thanks for sharing all this information.

    Would look forward to your write ups on Desert Safari, the city tour and the shopping experiences

  • Cuckoo says:

    Photos are very good. I echo Mr Dhall’s views. I have only seen in magazines till now. It looks beautiful. Doesn’t give any impression of leafless life.

    Anyways, never been to that country but will definitely go one day. Waiting for your other articles.

    And one day is never enough.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thanks Ram. It has taken more time to come out with the first story but I would try harder to present Desert Safari and more shortly.

    Thanks Cuckoo. All of fellow Ghumakkar’s experiences are helping us to know a little more of our own planet and our country.

  • Jogiraj Sikidar says:

    I agree with Nandan, if you are looking for greenery then Dubai is not the place to visit and I think one shouldn’t even expect it as its a desert. But one should come here to see what MAN can build from scratch (or sand). Its a city of sun, sea and sand. Although I disagree with other comments that 1-3 days are enough for a tourist here. Honestly if you remove shopping from your list even then there is a lot to explore in Dubai and surrounding places. Soon I will post some of my experiences of UAE.

    Also, you need to be in Dubai for longer than an extended weekend for it grows on you slowly. You wont get infrastructure of this kind anywhere else in the world. Dubai spoils you in terms of infrastructure. Plus, you need to be realistic when you go to a new place. Would you expect lush greenery in Jodhpur? Nope my dears. So, why expect it in Dubai? But to give credit where its due, you guys should have gone to the numerous parks in Dubai. For example, Zabeel park. You would have seen the kind of green grass that you would not get in India. Probably you would get such greenery in Australia.

    Also, ensure that you do your homework well and plan your limited time in this wonder city well BEFORE you embark on the trip. Winter in Dubai is simply great. For Indians and all those countrymen who have enough Sun in their own countries, they should come the Dubai way only between November and February.

    One last comment on Nandans article- traffic here is not that good on weekdays, rather its a nightmare :(

    And last but not the least, Dubai HAS oil but not enough to export any more.

    Nandan, come again and this time come with time I am sure you will appreciate it

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thanks Jogi for the informative comment. Since you have been staying there for a while, you would have a better view of the situation.

    I just expressed what came naturally to me :). By the way, I went to Jodhpur last year and it has lot of green. Probably you meant Jaisalmer which hardly sees any rain and is out of bound for normal living for almost 6 months of summer, there too it didn’t feel as dry as we felt at Dubai.

    I am yet to write on ‘Desert Safari’ which was really a different and unique experience. We hadn’t planned much but I doubt whether we missed anything in Dubai City. May be Ibn-Batauta Mall or some more of that sort.

    Dubai is great but India spoils you, I guess :) and who better to understand that better than you, who has traveled extensively here.

  • Jogiraj Sikidar says:

    Yes boss, you certainly have missed a lot of things just in Dubai. I am not denying to the fact that you wrote what came to you naturally in your first visit, but this time I would say you are wrong on your instinct. And I am saying that not because I live here but because friends who visited here from India commented it as an unforgettable experience.

    There are so many places to go on the outskirts of Dubai- explore the East Coast & Musandam, Jebel Hafeet mountain road in the UAE is the greatest road for driving in the world. All these places are just a couple of hours from Dubai.

    Malls like Ibn-Battuta, Mercato, Wafi and Madinat Jumeirah do NOT fall under just any mall and much more than that. I wish you had the time to enjoy them. You also missed the Abra rides, a romantic Dhow cruise and dinner, a walk down the Marina walk, Ski Dubai, and most of all a taste of this regions cuisine.

    Atlantis. People used to go to the Bahamas for an Atlantis experience and now it is in Dubai. You missed a golden opportunity given that you stayed in Marina.

    We will send you pictures of our first-look of Atlantis.

    Also if you are an adventure lover, then Dubai offers best of the adventure sports in the world. Few of my friends who are globetrotters come to Dubai just for that. Hot air balloons, trekking, water skiing, cruising, bungee jumping, etc, are the rage here in the right season.

    So I would simply again please do come again with enough time on your hands to see the natural and the man-made beauty of the UAE.

    Now dont call me tourism ambassador of the UAE, but honestly this is what I feel.

  • Celine says:

    Hey! What a coincidence! I just about got back from Dubai and having spent an entire week there, I fell short of time to explore all that I wanted to (and that is leaving aside shopping which I was not keen on anyway). An just about hour ago, I put up some pictures of the desert on my blog.

    Adventure sports (skydiving at Umm-Al-Quwain), Desert Safari, cruises, Mall of Emirates (and yes, to enjoy the Snow Park), visits to Hatta, crossing borders to Oman etc have been some of my memorable experiences. Dubai rocks!

  • nandanjha says:

    Jogi Bhai – Got it. I am not sure whether I would spend my next visit on the places you mentioned :) but I am 100 % sure that I am going to spend more , much much more time with you. I envy your Bar collection and I am sure I can put that to good use, and also the delicacies so loving prepared by Mily. Pihu definitely would love her time with Aadi. And we didn’t have any singing sessions, I miss them the most these days. Kesaria Baalma….

    Celine- I checked out the pics. Great ones. I was pretty much bowled over by the ride we had in Toyota Cruiser over those endless dunes. For every turn, which we took, I wished if I could get the steering for a moment. Out of the world.

  • lakshmi says:

    Brought back memories of our last two trips to Dubai..one on work and the other on transit where we got to spend almost a day with friends..loved the view from top..and and both the times I remember how buildings kept increasing in heights and a new tall Burj was being built…:)

  • bikerdude says:

    Nandan, surprising that you missed out on Dune Bashing in 4X4’s… I guess the 3 days were less if you have to venture out… some other exciting things to fo in Dubai… Barbecue on the beach. Prime meat cuts and loads of barbecue sauce and a smoking grill… aaahhh the pleasure of cooking under the open starlit sky…

    Now that you have posted stuff about Dubai here, did you know there was snow in Ras-al Khaimah some couple of years back? Planning to go visit my Bro-in-Law, hopefully in the winters which should be a good time to go…

  • Patrick says:

    Nice post Nandan, Have always wanted to visit the Gulf but the thought of what to see other than shopping always held me back. Am enlightened now and anyways it seems to be easily approachable from Lucknow. Lucknow has a direct flight to Sharjah.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Lakshmi – They are building more.You must have heard about the Palm thing, two more are planned.

    Dude – That was just day 1 :), Dune bashing was done but no barbecues. Would write that in a while. Visit and write back on what you see.

    Patrick the Jasper – I am not sure how far is Sharjah from Dubai but I guess it should not take too much time on those flyways. For fun, Dubai might be better placed than Sharjah though. Folks who stay there can probably talk better on this though.

  • bikerdude says:

    Oops… sorry for not noticing that. Happens when you are logged in after ages and that too at 2 in the night :-)

    Will await the next post… Apologies once again.

  • Jogiraj Sikidar says:

    Jha its your home and so to all my friends and you are always welcome here. I keep telling to all my friends please come here and stay with us so that we can also have some fun. Also any of you in this forum need any info/ help about this place please dont hesitate to write to me.

    Soon I will start writing about my experiences in Gulf.

    Jha, Lakshmi- looking forward to have you guys here again.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Jogi – I would. Lakshmi (who wrote a comment on this post) is different then the Laxmi Rao (in case thats what you are referring). Also looking fwd to your posts on Gulf, we haven’t had much about Gulf on Ghumakkar so far.

    In these times, all Lakshmis are welcome :) but just wanted to let you know.

  • Jogiraj Sikidar says:

    Oho…my mistakes….apologies…Thanks Jha
    Soon you can expect my posts on Gulf…

  • Patrick Jones says:

    ‘White ants’ crawling the sand dunes is good but no match for the enchanting Tulips!

  • nandanjha says:

    That was a teaser campaign for the next story. Would be changed before the new week.

  • manish khamesra says:

    I wish that going through all these posts on Dubai will change my perception of this city. Till now, I have mixed feeling…

    Looking forward to read the next two …

  • akaushik001 says:

    Guys I live in Dubai !

    Dubai is a good weekend break ( extended one ) but I guess worth only for westerners
    Indians most likely will not relish Singapore or Thailand will be better option

    Things to do :
    Aerial Tour Good but expensive almost AED 750 per person ( so 10 K INR per person ) more than your ticket to Dubai
    Gold and Spice Souq Clean Chandni Chowk of Delhi !
    Dinner Cruise The one in mandovi River GOA is better !
    Dubai Aquarium This is Good !
    Dubai Dolphinarium Worth Visiting
    Ski Dubai Try Manali more fun and actual snow than fake ( Silicon might look good but can never be natural ! Guys only )
    Desert Safaris Good fun This is half day event PS : Belly Dancers are from 5000 miles away country East Europe
    The Big Bus Company Take this trip to see whole Dubai in just one day Worth value for money Not good in summer though
    Wild Wadi Water park Good slides but the one at Atlantis Hotel is awesome
    Beach Parks: Al Mamzar beach , Jumeirah Beach Creekside Park – Good for Local residents like me
    Beaches – Mostly Sad as there are hardly any waves in the sea all killed by manmade marvels Dubai Palm and so on

  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks akaushik. Thats a good laundry list to ponder.

  • kris kemenczy says:

    hi im going to dubai in december for 7 nights just wondering if thats enough time to explore. thanks

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Kris – I would think so. 7 nights should be sufficient enough for Dubai.

  • Indrani Bose says:

    Hi Kris,
    Being an expat in Dubai for last 10 yrs, if you could tell me wat kind of vacation you are looking at depending on that I might be able to help in planning a rough itinerary to map out whether 7 nights will be enough for Dubai and the rest of the near by Emirates.

    If u r looking at adventure sports then there are specific hotels and tour groups who can cater to your needs and book u for 2-3 days depending upon gale, wind directions, sun light availability etc as December is winters here.
    There are world famous Spa resorts too…
    Barring that…beach resorts to idle away and relax are to die for!
    Just to do the rounds of the touristy museums of dubai and Sharjah will take you 2 days.
    then you have innumerable local souqs ..i.e the arabic local markets, and then you have the make believe ones inside the A/c markets also..
    So take your picks, revert and I can give you some idea …that is if I haven’t already!

  • Nandan says:

    Quick update. I was there for few hours in late Feb 2013. We reached during evening and had about first half of next day for ourselves. We were staying at a friend’s place (Thank you Jogi) and one think which struck me and Smita both was that Dubai looked much more green this time. May be the initial building-frenzy has now settled. We drove to a apartment area (Sorry Indrani, we were as close as your parking area) and were excited to see water bodies , greenery.

    The wide, super speed, orderly roads amazed us again and now there is a metro/sub-way as well. Our intention was to stop-by and meet our friends but later we realized that we should have spent more time.

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