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Dubai: The Extravagant, Slightly Schizoid Disneyland for Adrenaline Junkies

Impressions of Dubai

We stopped in Dubai for a few days in April 2023 to break up the trip from Hanoi to Istanbul.

My first impression of Dubai is how clean it is, after South East Asia it was a pleasant change. It was wonderful to be able to sit by a waterway and actually be able to see the water – not rafts of garbage, and not have your guts heave and twist with the smell.

Although we aren’t really comparing apples and oranges here as we stayed in the more upmarket Marina district. Here there were legions of Philippine nannies pushing baby carriages around the marina walkway. These nannies and their charges often congregated in the kiddy parks shaded by the many bridges crossing the canal.

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Hundreds of residential towers, many with innovative designs, look over the Marina which was filled with expensive yachts.

The whole area is manmade and extremely walkable; the promenade is lined with shops, cafes, bars and restaurants offering al fresco dining with a view.

It was not all bliss though as there was a scourge of e-scooters zipping in and out of pedestrians on the aforementioned walkways. The orthopedic surgery business must be booming in Dubai is all I can say.

Dubai is a city state of superlatives

The fastest, grandest, most expensive, most extravagant, and the shiniest.

Everyone here seems to hail from somewhere else.

There is spectacular architecture everywhere and armies of labourers from the Indian subcontinent busy building new skyscrapers.

Lots of people in Dubai speak Russian. The United Arab Emirates do not impose western sanctions on Russia. Some Russians now work here – others have parked their money in Dubai real estate.

We also met several Ukrainians living here as well.

There are smiling, sunburnt European tourists (well – sun burnt anyways).

There are loads of serious looking young expat movers and shakers. In some ways I almost feel sorry for young people starting their careers here. Dubai in many ways is unreal and over the top, life after Dubai must be drab and beige in comparison.

Shopping! Bling! Over the top wealth!

We dropped by the Dubai Mall and I thought I was teleported into the middle of a plastic surgery convention.

The Burj Kalifa, the worlds tallest building is awe-inspiring. At night it doubles as a massive LED  billboard. We not overly impressed with the Dubai fountain show, found it to be a bit chintzy and in our minds not as good as the one in Kuala Lumpur. Oh well the view and the $50 hamburgers were good!

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Lots of fast, expensive cars and exotic car dealerships.

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At night the place is lit up like a Christmas tree.

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Call to prayer starts early

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Dubai is a crucible for ambitious engineering projects.

Man made Islands and canals

Impressive sky scrapers

There is a plethora of plaques claiming their right to Guinness World Record Status including:

The tallest structure, the fastest roller coaster, the deepest diving pool, the largest musical fountain, the largest OLED screen, the longest urban zipline, the largest inflatable aqua park, the city with the most buildings 300m or taller, the largest observation wheel on the planet, the largest mall – the list goes on…

The place is extravagant, a bit schizoid, a Disney Land for adrenaline junkies and a place for those with short attention spans to spend their excess cash.

I like it.

Here is a link to our Dubai photo gallery

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About the author: Michael was born under a wanderin’ star. He is an Engineer who became an explorer, a photography bug, and hack traveller writer with the propensity to be snarky. “Retired” in 2012 at the age of 44, he and his wife Yvonne travel and house sit around the globe on a full time basis. Michael’s goal is to share the process of escaping the rat race, exploring the globe, and some of the experiences along the way.

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