18 hours in Dubai (as it happened in early July 2013)

After an eventful trip to Sydney I flew back to Denmark through Dubai and had arranged for a long layover in order to give myself a micro-vacation before heading back to work.

So after a 14 hour flight I found myself in Dubai airport excited to get out an explore. However my excitement didn’t last too long as I was waiting to pass through immigrations. I have occasionally complained about other airports and their less than perfect handling of certain things… I’m looking at you CPH and your luggage handling. That now seems like the smoothest experience after Dubai. In line in front of me was around 15 people, yet it still took about 45 min to get to the front of the line. Oh and my line was quick compared to some of the others. Makes me wonder what’s going on here! Anyway once I cleared immigrations I headed for the hotel shuttle to whisk me away to my very modest (for Dubai standards) accommodation for the night.
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To my surprise the view from my room was not too bad. I could even see one of the days goals in the distance.
I grabbed a quick lunch at the hotel buffet. Nothing spectacular, but a meal’s a meal, especially when you plan to venture out for a long day in 32-40 degree Celsius weather.
Instead of rushing to the new and flashy, I headed to the older part of town to check out the street life around the spice and gold souks. It didn’t quite have the charm and smells that I was expecting and there was a visible influx of tourists, which have put their mark on these markets.
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However some of the charm still remains and the older architectural elements can still be found, such as this old style cooling tower for the spice market.
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In an attempt to find a more untouched part of these markets I started veering down side streets, until men no longer came out of their shops to offer me copy watches and bags. This turned out to be a good choice as I found the real spice merchants whose shops were simple storefronts with a single desk and bags upon bags of spices spilling out into the street adding a distinct aroma of saffron to the warm summer air.
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It was also down these side streets that I managed to get a glimpse of what life seems to be like for the working man in Dubai.
After this small whiff of the less touristy side of town, I decided it was time to explore the newer, shinier, Las Vegasy area surrounding Burj Al Khalifa. Riding the high tech metro to get there, the city seems to stretch out as if the city itself was one big airstrip. Along the 10 lane highway are single buildings, one larger and more intimidating than the other, with only empty plots of land ready for development breaking up the monotony. I can see why some liken the city to Las Vegas with its never ending attempt to one-up the neighbouring building.
The crowning achievement in this race is the Burj Al Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. Towering over the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall each one also the biggest and baddest in their own field.
Going out of the metro you are carried straight into the heart of the Dubai Mall. Finding my way in here suddenly makes navigating the backstreets of Hong Kong look like child’s play. Walking through this gargantuan place it is hard not to get lured in by the sheer shimmer and showmanship these shops display. But having promised myself to get a glimpse of the BAK before the sun sets, I tell myself I can always come back later to the shops I pass along the way… If I’m able to find them again!
Just as I exit the mall I am greeted by the first of the evenings fountain shows.
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It is truly a majestical sight and the show is deservedly finished with a round of applause from the many onlookers.
Once the show is over I am left with a view that could as easily have been taken out of either LA or Miami, so I quickly snap a photo and put it through a few filters and voila!

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I doubt anyone would notice the difference.
But no matter, as this isn’t the reason I’m here. I’m here to see what the tallest building in the world looks like, and boy is it tall.
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After staring at this Tower of Babel like structure I snapped a few photos and then stared some more before succumbing to the heat. I turned around and walked back into the belly of the beast that is Dubai Mall.
I wondered restlessly for a few hours and managed to see about half of the place, including the huge indoor aquarium and this strangely exhilarating water sculpture.
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Having walked through what seemed like the better part of a medium sized town I turned back to the metro and headed back to the hotel for a beer by the pool and yet another mediocre meal before heading for bed.

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