Friday, April 24, 2009

Dubai & Abu Dhabi

The Burj Dubai is finally in its last phase of construction and stands at 2,684 feet.
It has 160 floors and will resemble a vertical city once finished. The final height won't be announced until the builders are sure that it has indeed broken all records and there isn't a lurking usurper waiting to hoist a few meters of radio mast to steal the glory at the final post. Its scheduled to open for occupancy in September of this year. Given the current economic environment it will either be a shot in the arm for an Emirate reeling at the collapse of property prices or a symbol of reckless excess which has so often characterised the frenetic building in Dubai.
Regardless, it is the tallest man made structure on earth and can be seen by the naked eye over 95 kms away (if the haze cooperates).
Another potential white elephant is "The Atlantis Hotel", built along the outer edge of the famous "Palm" land reclamation in the Persian Gulf. Its huge.
I went for a look and despite the impressive fish tank (complete with basking whale no less), I came away less than impressed. There is a Disney silliness to the place and I wonder how long the novelty will last.
Given the current downturn, the herd migration from Essex has slowed to a trickle and the place needs a steady flow of people with ready cash to fill its restaurants and rooms.
The future of a Vegas hotel without the gambling is a tough sell and at $1.5 Billion- that's right I said Billion, it may turn out to be a rather costly example of bad timing.
In the same vein, but far more fun, I made a pilgrimage to the Mall of the Emirates to watch the Burkha-clad ski.
Winter in the desert is surreal, and a bit of a laugh. If Dubai is the brash playboy son of the family, Abu Dhabi is the conservative Dad with the fat wallet. I was at a conference there for 4 days and though had little time to see much, the hour or so drive from Dubai puts you in a very different place.Whereas Dubai builds shopping Malls with ski hills, In Abu Dhabi they build Mosques. The Sheik Zayed Mosque ( built for the Emirates late ruler) is the biggest in the Emirates and sixth largest in the world. Unlike in the rest of the country where it's illegal for non Muslims to enter a mosque, this one is open to non believers at specific times.
Sadly when I visited was not one of those times.
A helpful cab driver however, took my camera went inside and snapped away.
That's it for today.
I've been in the Dominican Republic over the past week and tried out a little underwater camera (with mixed results). I'll put something up as and when.
For now I'm lazing in Miami and trying to figure out how to get my head back into travel mode for the week ahead in Asia.
Stay well

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rachid Taha's music in the background makes the post even more enjoyable.