Monday, 20 August 2007

Feeling hot hot hot in Dubai

When we arrived in Dubai, the pilot announced that it was 32 degrees. He then went on to note that it was 4.30 am. With the heat this afternoon reaching 42 degrees, I am beginning to understand why so many of the local men wear outfits that remind me a tad of bed sheets. It serves us right though - not only are we in the Arabian Peninsular, but it is the middle of summer here to boot. In spite of the sweltering heat, though, Dubai is simply fabulous. I love it. This city has a really special pulse, and you can tell that it's on the verge of being a must see destination. Also, random fact - 30% of the World's cranes are in Dubai as the government goes nuts to try and make it just that by the year 2011 according to a local we met.

Cranes cranes everywhere ...

The highlight of Dubai so far was going to the desert and hanging out for a while - at least until the hot sand started to hurt my poor feet that are unused to burning hot sand. Tane, though, had the foresight to wear boots. We got taken on a four wheel drive trip up and down the sand dunes and into the middle of no-where. After I realised that driving around the dunes at high speeds was not going to cause untimely death, I was able to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Stunning.

Tane may have been a smug boot wearer, but karma hit him back and made him extremely carsick. But. if you're going to pick anywhere to be ill, it might as well be here, eh? And where else would you meet a car load of Saudi Arabians to mock you for vomiting?

Tane before he was kneeling in the sand retching

The day was finished off by a camel ride and belly dance show at a camp in the sand. The camel ride was hard work - they are quite gurgly scary beasts up close. I think I'll stick to elephants from now on.

Tane and a camel that we assume was called Alice due to its one hump

There is one place in Dubai that we did not go - to the World's only 7 star hotel. We were told that rooms start at $NZ2500 a night, and that even eating breakfast inside costs about $150. This was as close as we got given that we are mere plebs.

Yay Dubai! I totally recommend visiting here if you get the chance.


aka Special K said...

Some more interesting Dubai facts: taken from a David Young article in the Listener:
More than a million workers from Pakistan, India and South-east Asia have swarmed to the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the business capital, in the hope of making their fortune. But few are succeeding. Last year alone, the government granted visas to 250,000 labourers, many of whom spent $5000 of borrowed money on visas that their employers were supposed to pay for.

The workers earn as little as $250 a month, much of which is sent home. The basic day is 12 hours long in temperatures between 40˚ and 50˚C during the six summer months. Overtime can add another four hours ...

(a little rave here about how glam Dubai is)

... a different impression was left by an early morning visit to a cramped labour camp where manual labourers are forced to live by laws that ban them from other areas. They are not allowed to drink alcohol or bring their families to Dubai unless they earn a salary much higher than the average construction worker could hope to make. They live six to a room, sometimes even more.

(Not trying to bring you down or anything...)

Tane Aikman said...

We had also heard about the exploitation of Dubai's Subcontinent labourers before we arrived - there was a National Geographic article around Christmas and a tv doco.

When you're on a tourist stopover you do not see much of their living conditions, though there are hordes of construction workers around.

Doesn't make a place any less amazing, though it shows that, like most rapid spurts of industrialisation, a lot of people have had to work very hard for very little to make Dubai rich.

The government must be aware of the bad press - İ read an article in the local paper about new rules to give labourers more space, cold water, etc.

Lauren Keenan said...

In fact, thınkıng about Dubaı remınded me of when I studıed Amerıcan Hıstory and ıts rapıd ındustrıalızatıon between 1870 - 1910, ın partıcular the role of ımmıgrants ın that. Not to say that the condıtıons ın Dubaı aren't bad, but ıt goes to show that the consequences of rapıd growth are more unıversal than you'd thınk, although lets hope that the Dubaı government learn from hıstory before we see another Trıangle Shırt Waıst fıre