Welcome to Dubai, where middle east meets (and is completely taken over by) west. In a rush to be the gateway to the middle east Dubai has become a mass of theme parks shopping malls and office buildings. It is a bit sad that in their clamour for western comfort and wealth they have forsaken their own culture and replaced it with a Walt Disney version of the middle east. In parts of the city they have built up what look like sets from the cartoon Aladdin in mock imitation of the thousand year old wood and clay souk markets that they are tearing down and replacing with high rises. The best place in Dubai to get a schwarma (chicken or lamb kebab) these days seems to be the at the many shopping malls, a touris attraction in their own right. Themed malls, super expensive luxury malls and one with a ski slopes built inside it. It is kind of impressive that you can hit the slopes in the middle of the desert but only in a “what a great way to waste 30 million dollars” kind of way. We did take advantage of the desert for an afternoon of crazy 4 wheel driving over sand dunes and took a dip in the Persian Gulf near the Burj Alarab.
All this being said it was a great break from backpacking around 2nd and 3rd world countries. Imagine leaving India, step off the plane and see an advertisement for gold plated mobile phones and rolex clocks on the wall. Talk about reverse culture shock! Overall we can easily say that the highlight of our trip to Dubai had to be the first lettuce we ate in four months. Perhaps a bit of western development isn’t all bad afterall.