I hadn’t been to Dubai since 2001 – it was outrageous then – completely over the top now. So in selecting my flight option, the Emirates option provided a stop over and with two red-eye flights, a hotel night in the middle was appealing. Glad we did just for the break as well as seeing the city again. But as far as a destination, not sure I would recommend Dubai – The primary activity is shopping and I am really not sure how the endless high-end stores make money, but they do. The activities are all manmade – and expensive. Lots of skydiving and Ferrari rentals but for a cost (like hundreds of $$$). If going to South Asia, Middle East, or Africa – definitely recommend Emirates with a stopover.
In some respects Dubai has not recovered from the great recession as there are still many abandoned projects. Although I had expected growth, there are areas which are the size of US downtown areas completely built in last 10-15 years with a cost of $100 billion plus. Dubai Marina basically looks like Chicago around the river. The concept of a benevolent dictator who invests a lot in infrastructure and schools is an interesting concept and works in a small population. Rules are strict (but not as strict as Saudi) but the “social rules” rarely enforced – so the mix provides a safe place and those from outside UAE are comfortable. Expats are 80% of the population and I had put them in two groups – with money and without money. Someone has to build all this stuff and it is all imported labor from South Asia and the Philippines….pretty much on single status living in labor camps. So when the Expats with money are combined with the locals with money – I assessed two different societies. But friends of mine from there say much more complicated – an Expat (no matter how much money) will never be on par with a local and the workers have several groups around religion.
When to old Dubai and made a quick tour through the markets and a boat cruise on Dubai Creek.
Highlight of trip was going up Burj Khalifa – my former company built it and I had a long discussion with the principal architect on various aspects of wind loading at an offsite.
For perspective – the top floor is twice the height of the Freedom Tower top floor.
Through the miracle of Facebook, happen to see a from Korea in town for the weekend – he had come over from Mumbai for some diving (actually two were in town – missed the other one). We met up at a Irish Pub to catch up and James was kind enough to entertain Sharon while I had a conference call.