Arriving in Dubai
I couldn’t help but feel I was at Epcot Center in Disneyworld. Everywhere you look there is something that is one of the world’s tallest, one of the world’s biggest, one of the world’s first, and it’s all connected by high speed rail and sweltering heat. The skyline makes New York’s seem quaint by comparison and all of it, from the BMW model Police Cars to the endless malls and mountain high office buildings, seems brand new.
I arrived in the Dubai Airport, which is immaculately clean and modern. Shiny metal columns are everywhere, and the place is massive. Only later did I find out that one of the terminals is the largest building in the world by floorspace. The duty free shopping areas seemed bigger than any malls I had ever been to (until I went to the Dubai Mall, which is, of course, the world’s largest). But it’s a good introduction to Dubai, because Dubai is all about shopping and big buildings.
The area around the city is desert, and rolling dunes go right to the ocean, which gives the city this weird feeling of being placed on a giant, never ending beach instead of desert. The heat is the worst of both worlds, the heat of the desert combined with the humidity of the ocean. Nobody seems to walk anywhere, except the legions of south Asian laborers who are helping to build whatever new thing some crazy oil magnate can dream up next.
The best example of this is the Burj Khalifa tower according to http://www.mydestination.com/dubai/
, which is where I did the majority of my research on Dubai.
I can tell you how tall it is (828 m, 2,717ft) but even that doesn’t do it justice. It’s pointy and shiny and on some level I had a hard time even acknowledging it was real, I felt like it had to be desert mirage. There is an observation deck at the top, but unfortunately for me it was closed due to the elevator trapping some tourists half way up a few months ago. Still, the park out front is amazing, with huge fountains and beautiful architecture everywhere. I got the feeling that Dubai is like a giant sandbox (pun intended) for the world’s best (and craziest) architects. It’s a city built by rich people who are running out of ideas on how to spend their money. World’s tallest tower? Done that already. Let’s build a giant island in the ocean that looks like a palm tree. Sure, why not?