How Can I Possibly Describe Dubai?

How Can I Possibly Describe Dubai?

  • A city and a state (Emirate) of the United Arab Emirates;
  • The second largest Emirate (4114 km²), with the largest population (the majority of whom are expatriates) – source Wikipedia;
  • A land of extreme heat, with an average high of 41°C and maximum of 49° C ;
  • Home to the tallest and most remarkable buildings – Burj Khalifa, Cayan (Infinity) Tower and Burj Al Arab are examples;
  • With an appetite for the most enterprising of development projects – The Palms and the World Islands built on reclaimed land;
  • A liberal Muslim country offering the right to religious freedom, but not necessarily freedom of speech;
  • With somewhat unusual and at times confusing policies on alcohol acquisition and consumption.
  • etc., etc., etc., …….

If that doesn’t do it for you, perhaps the photos and stories of our meanderings around Dubai might help.

Northern end of Dubai Marina, from a Yellow Boat

After holidaying here for only five days I certainly do not claim to understand this city or the country it belongs to.

Entrance to our hotel

Arrival in Dubai: early Thursday 29th September 2016

Our base was the Marina View Hotel appartments, which had no view of the Dubai Marina. Not to be confused with the Marina Hotel appartments, which had a beautiful, front row view of the Dubai Marina. Nevertheless the Marina View Hotel had the advantage of being almost half the price.

We decide to stay in this area because our friend Andrew (afternoon host on radio Dubai 92 and our Dubai guide) lives there. However, he thought we were staying at the Marina Hotel, next to his appartment building. We thought the Marina View Hotel was next door to his appartment building, but is actually 5 minutes walk (or 10 minutes drive) south.

Are you confused yet? Initially we were and so was Andrew.

A small section of the Dubai Marina from Andrew’s appartment

The Dubai Marina is a district of Dubai (approx 21 km south of downtown Dubai), as well as the name of a large, three kilometer long artificial canal.

At 12 noon, day one, I walked alongside a small section of the Marina. The temperature was around 37 degrees with very high humidity. I lasted about an hour walking in this heat.

Looking north along Dubai Marina – The old, the new and the “not yet completed”
Marina Hotel Appartments in centre, with twisted Cayan Tower to the right

The Cayan (Infinity) Tower twists 90 degrees to the left as it rises to its 73rd floor. Unfortunately the perspective of this photo makes it look a lot smaller than the Marina Hotel (estimated to be only 20 floors).


Friday morning Maggie and I walked along the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) development, which is between the sea and the Dubai Marina.

JBR Beach

Not sure if these ladies were interested in a camel ride or a chat with the handler?

Tea Cart (uncompleted ferris wheel in background)

What a wonderful idea I thought, peddling a tea cart from one location to the next. And then I realised…there’s no way to steer this contraption…or see where you’re going! Ahhhh…what does it matter…it looks good…and it’s got a hand brake.

The Stairway, from beach to residence

The alternating red and white squares painted on the stairs have some meaning. We saw this pattern at various Islamic sites during our holiday. One of our guides in Spain did offer an explanation, but I can’t remember it. Wikipedia suggests it is more of an Islamic decorative style in which red bricks where originally alternated with white stone.


Friday afternoon Andrew and his friend Dani, drove us to the Dubai Mall (the largest in the world), which is next to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest in the world – 160 floors).

Arabian decor in a small section of the Dubai Mall
Andrew and Dani in front of the Burj Khalifa

Sorry about cutting off the top of the Burj, but I considered it more important to take a good photo of Andrew and Dani.

Souk Al Bahar, across the lake from the Burj Khalifa

In case you don’t know, a souk is an Arab market place. Andrew shouted us an afternoon snack at this souk. The food was very tasty and the beer wasn’t bad either. Thanks Andrew!

On Monday afternoon (day before we left) Maggie and I caught the train from the Dubai Marina to this part of Dubai (approx 50 min ride). We’d made a 5pm booking for cocktails and canapes at the Atmosphere Lounge, on the 143rd floor of the Burj Khalifa.

Looking more north than west from the Atmosphere Lounge
The Souk Al Bahar (to right) – The Dubai Mall (to left) – And the beautiful blue lake with its submerged fountain – photo taken from the men’s room of the Atmosphere Lounge


On Friday evening we were invited to a dinner party with Andrew and a group of his friends in the Jumeirah 1 housing estate (just west of Burj Khalifa). Our host, Kelly created a wonderful dinner, and after I revealed my last name as Dewar she gave us a bottle of 18-year-old Dewar’s Scotch. Thank you Kelly for being such a wonderful host and for your generous gift.

Another highlight was dinner with Andrew at Madinat Jumeirah Resort and Souk (“Aladdin’s Cave” as Andrew named it) on Sunday night. I was so excitied about going to this place I forgot to take my camera. To compensate I have “borrowed” the following shot from the EDSA website, to give you some idea of how amazing “Aladdin’s Cave” is. But you really need to go there to appreciate it.

Madinat Jumeirah_souk
Madinat Jumeirah Resort and Souk – Burj Al Arab in background (photo courtesy of EDSA)

The low light photos I took with my phone were totally unusable, but with that same phone Andrew managed to capture this shot of Maggie and me.

View from one of the many Madinat balconies, with water channel below and Burj Al Arab behind

How come that old bloke gets to stand next to the beautiful young chick?

There was also our monorail ride out to Atlantis Hotel Resort (at western end of Palm #1)

Eastern side of Atlantis Hotel Resort and beach, from moving train

But wait, there’s more. Andrew took us on a guided tour through old Dubai.

Silk Souk, Old Dubai

If you allow a seller to place a silk scarf around your neck you’ve bought it. Well almost.

The Creek – a “harbour” for small trading vessels

What an amazing wheel house on this late-model “cruiser”!

A mosque in old Dubai

Visiting Dubai was so much more enjoyable and certainly easier with Andrew (Harry) Harrison’s company, knowledge, guidance and driving skills. So again, a big thank you Andrew. I hope we can repay the favour some day. Thanks also goes to Daryl and Susan Harrison (Andrew’s parents) for their helpful advice on Dubai, prior to our departure from Australia.

We departed Dubai Tuesday 4th October on a flight to Venice and boarded the MV Aegean Odyssey for a 28 day cruise from Italy to Spain.

Was Venice everything we expected it to be? Tune in to the next exhilarating episode of “Alistairstravel” to find out…. Well okay, it might not be exhilerating, but it could at least be worth looking at?

  • Luke iemma
    Posted at 20:03h, 09 November Reply

    Funny as! Can’t wait to tune in for Venice. Ps. Great pics too. But what did they say when you pulled out your camera in the men’s room…

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 06:34h, 10 November Reply

      Glad you liked the Dubai story Luke. I wasn’t the only one who took photos from the men’s room. Since it has one of the best views, I guess a lot of blokes do it. So there was no reaction. However, the waiters may have wondered if I was incontinent had they seen how many time I went to the men’s with my camera.

  • Kevin @ Bev G.
    Posted at 13:04h, 12 November Reply

    Dubai photos are sensational, Alister. Wonder what will happen as the countdown to zero oil restricts maintenance?
    I felt the young camel attendant was infinitely more wisely and comfortably dressed than the bikini covered girls.
    Cheers, K’n’B.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 15:15h, 12 November Reply

      Thanks for your comment Kevin
      Fortunately Dubai / UAE has been fostering other means of income, such as IT and financial Services, tourism and rent taxes etc. Oil and gas now only accounts for 20% of GDP (Wikipedia)
      Yes the sun would be hot on the bikini ladies, but there weren’t many people in traditional attire anywhere we went in Dubai. Strangely we saw more people in Arabic clothing in Dubai Mall (air conditioned environment) than anywhere else.

  • JohnW
    Posted at 13:38h, 13 December Reply

    Looks like a very enjoyable excursion to south west Asia. We’re planning a 6 week holiday to Abu Dhabi in April/May 2017 to visit grandkids and welcome number 11. Hope we get to see all the sites you got to see.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 13:46h, 13 December Reply

      Thanks for your comment John. If you are staying in the region for 6 weeks I’m certain you will see a lot more than we did. Hope you enjoy it.

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