IMG_4093 (1024x510)1) the view from At.Mosphere atop Burj Khalifa looking southwest towards Burj Al Arab (on right) and Dubai Marina

Where to begin? … Dubai is on many levels a miracle: a modern city of soaring skyscrapers built on acres of desert with oil reserve dollars; a testament to the singular vision of its founder, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (the Al Maktoum family has ruled Dubai since 1833 fyi); and a shopaholics mecca. And yet, all that glitters is not gold no matter how desperately Dubais wish it to be otherwise as the city, despite all its modern grandeur, is soulless. Dubai has no heart.

While travelling through its magnificence – and indeed the city is magnificent – I kept thinking of Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, and how Dubai would be such a better locale than Las Vegas for Randall Flagg and his sycophants.  But literary anecdotes aside, I am glad I visited but certainly have no need ever to return.

We took up residence in a lovely suite at the Grosvenor House near the Palm Jumierah in Dubai Marina. The hotel was lovely, if big, and we enjoyed an excellent meal at Indego by Vineet our first night in town and then strolled the pathways around the Marina to people watch at the restaurants and hookah bars.

IMG_4106 (2) (765x1024)2) Grosvenor House

DSCN2728_6908 (2) (1024x768)3) the lobby at Grosvenor House

DSCN2721_6901 (2) (1024x768)4) our lovely suite

DSCN2718_6898 (2) (1024x751)5) more of the suite

DSCN2719_6899 (2) (1024x768)6) the GM gifted us a bottle of champagne a basket of fruit upon arrival

DSCN2716_6896 (2) (1024x753)7) the bathroom

DSCN2715_6895 (2) (1024x768)8) the bedroom

IMG_4071 (2) (765x1024)9) G heads across the elevated balcony to dinner at Indego

DSCF0254_7068 (2) (1024x768)10) dining at Indego

DSCN2731_6911 (2) (768x1024)11) the view from our suite

DSCN2729_6909 (2) (1024x768)12) … and looking the other way towards Burj Al Arab

IMG_4112 (1024x764)13) wandering Dubai Marina area at night

The next morning we took the uber-efficient Dubai Metro into Downtown proper and visited the world’s biggest mall, The Dubai Mall, and enjoyed afternoon tea atop the highest restaurant in the world – At.Mosphere – which, of course, is in the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Burj Khalifa is quite surreal – nearly a kilometer tall it stands out no matter where you are in Dubai. Housed within it is the Armani Hotel (in fact you visit the hotel as part of the process of getting up to At.Mosphere); stop by the gift shop for some great (if expensive) teas on the way back down from your lunch.  At.Mosphere, be warned, is a tourist trap; though a necessary evil one must try when in Dubai. Afternoon tea consists of the usual suspects (though actual tea you must specifically ask your server for?!) and will run you about AED380 (about CAD$110), more if you do as we did and order a glass of champagne to accompany lunch. Servers here pour the champagne in a ridiculously pompous fashion and we had to do our best not to laugh out loud.

(as an aside, we also enjoyed afternoon tea at Al Muntaha in the iconic Burj Al Arab when we returned to the city after several days at Al Maha [more on this in another post] and discovered this same champagne-pouring silliness there as well. Which came first I am not sure.)

Of the two experiences, I much preferred the offerings and feel at Burj Al Arab which was more pleasant and less, I don’t know, stuffy.

DSCN2781_6961 (2) (848x1024)14) there are amazing skyscrapers all around the Dubai Marina area

DSCN2732_6912 (2) (764x1024)15) heading to the metro … looking back toward the Grosvenor Hotel (the two smaller towers centre right)

DSCN2733_6913 (2) (768x1024)16) G heads to the Metro

DSCN2734_6914 (2) (1024x768)17) crossing Sheikh Zayed Road …. all 16 lanes of it!

DSCN2735_6915 (2) (1024x768)18) in the Metro

IMG_4102 (2) (814x1024)19) the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa

DSCN2736_6916 (2) (1024x768)20) entering the world’s largest mall – Dubai Mall

DSCN2737_6917 (2) (1024x768)21) it has a skating rink but of course

DSCN2746_6926 (2) (1024x633)22) and a massive aquarium you can walk through … for a price

IMG_4077 (2) (1024x765)23) and you can buy pork despite being in a muslim country though its rather conspicuous

IMG_4087 (2) (1024x823)24) and look, even Canada’s National treasure – Tim Hortons coffee – is here!

IMG_4089 (2) (1024x765)25) here’s the entrance to access the elevators that take you up 122 stories to At.Mosphere

DSCN2756_6936 (2) (1024x768)26) made it!

DSCN2758_6938 (2) (1024x768)27) here’s the menu

IMG_4094 (2) (1024x765)28) and the view – that’s the shadow of Burj Khalifa on the Dubai Mall

DSCN2762_6942 (2) (1024x768)29) moi with champagne atop At.Mosphere looking out towards Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina

DSCF0240_6883 (2) (1024x768)30) you can truly see for miles and miles up here

DSCN2766_6946 (1024x768)31) tea service starts with this mousse complete with gold leaf of course

DSCN2767_6947 (2) (1024x768)32) mushroom tarts

DSCN2770_6950 (2) (1024x768)33) a selection of sandwiches and scones

DSCN2769_6949 (2) (1024x768)34) and the desserts

DSCN2748_6928 (2) (1024x768)35) looking down to the dancing fountain

DSCN2789_6969 (2) (768x1024)36) the Burj from the Metro heading back to the Grosvenor

Another day we visited the historic heart of Dubai – the area around Dubai Creek with its famous Gold Market, the Deira Fish Market, the Dubai Museum and a reprieve from all the concrete and steel of the rest of the city. There is some authenticity here, with dhows that ply the creek and wee boats, called abras, that take tourists and locals back and forth across the river. You can wander the souk and markets but be forewarned, the merchants here, especially in the gold market, will pester you to the point of fleeing. They are insistent almost to the point of being indignant that you buy. Fortunately, G and I are not hoarders and never really buy anything whilst travelling so they didn’t get far with us, and, I admit, I can be ruthlessly – perhaps to the point of impoliteness – abrupt with salespeople.

DSCN2796_6976 (2) (1024x613)37) Dubai Creek

DSCN2792_6972 (2) (1024x745)38) heading into the Gold Market

DSCN2795_6975 (2) (1024x768)39) where you can buy things like this

DSCN2790_6970 (2) (768x1024)40) G heads into the utensils market

DSCN2791_6971 (2) (1024x768)41) spices and such for sale

DSCN2798_6978 (2) (1024x768)42) heading out on an abra to cross the creek

DSCN2802_6982 (2) (1024x768)43) here’s one heading the other way

DSCN2804_6984 (2) (1024x702)44) here’s ours

45) and a short video of the scene

DSCN2812_6992 (2) (733x1024)46) an abra lands safely

DSCN2775_6955 (2) (768x1024)47) Burj Al Arab

DSCN3081_7426 (2) (1024x768)48) G takes a photo of the dancing fountain in the lobby

49) here’s a video of the fountain and a paning shot up to the atrium

DSCN3057_7402 (2) (1024x768)50) this atrium can completely hold the Statue of Liberty … it’s that big a space!

DSCN3060_7405 (2) (1024x958)51) in the lobby of the Al Muntaha restaurant in Burj Al Arab you can buy – if you so wish – this Apple iPad cover for AED31,880 or roughly CAD$9600

DSCN3078_7423 (2) (768x1024)52) here’s the entrance pod

DSCN3077_7422 (2) (1024x768)53) and the bar area

DSCN3063_7408 (2) (1024x768)54) the view is beautiful here – in the background is Palm Jumeirah

DSCN3062_7407 (2) (1024x768)55) there was a yachting race going on while we were there

DSCN3071_7416 (2) (1024x768)56) these are the leaders

DSCN3065_7410 (2) (1024x768)57) the ceiling of the restaurant is really neat I thought

DSCN3061_7406 (2) (1024x768)58) the afternoon tea begins

DSCN3068_7413 (2) (1024x768)59) with roast beef

DSCN3070_7415 (2) (1024x768)60) and sandwiches

DSCN3076_7421 (2) (1024x768)61) and sorbet

DSCN3073_7418 (2) (1024x768)62) desserts

DSCN3072_7417 (2) (1024x768)63) scones

DSCN3075_7420 (2) (1024x768)64) and to finish more savouries including a camel’s milk creme brulee (yes, camel milk!)

DSCN2773_6953 (2) (1024x768)65) sunrise from the hotel on our last morning in Dubai

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1 Response to Dubai

  1. christao408 says:

    Fascinating to view Dubai through your eyes. A city I have minimal interest in visiting as I perceive it as being exactly what you describe: soulless. But I suppose I should visit it, just so I’ve had the first-hand opportunity to form an opinion.

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