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  • Writer's pictureDonna Zabel

Indulging in Dubai

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

In Dubai all that glitters really is gold. If anything has changed since my first visit is there is more…. more gold, more shops, more construction. In 2007 there were cranes everywhere as Dubai built the world’s largest shopping mall, the world’s tallest buildings, the world’s most elaborate hotel complexes. Now, in 2019, the streets are wider, the traffic more intense, the building even more frenetic as Dubai prepared for Expo 2020, (which due to Covid19, became Expo 2021).

In 2007 the big news was the gigantic Mall of the Emirates with the world’s first indoor ski sloop. Now that mall is eclipsed in size by the Dubai Mall, plus it seems every shopping area has its own indoor ice-skating rink. This in a country where summer temperatures routinely top 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2007 Dubai defined luxury hotels with the Burj and the elaborate Palms complex built on reclaimed land. The Burj still dominates, but there are luxury hotels being built everywhere. Walking from our very comfortable Hyatt Regency Dubai & Galleria to the Gold Souk a few blocks away meant traversing through and across multiple construction sites and lanes of traffic. The word to explain the change from my previous visit is more--more of everything that makes Dubai famous.

In hopes of discerning something special about Dubai other than the glitz and glamour of thousands of high-end stores all selling the same designer goods, we stayed in Deira, the older part of the city. “Older” is relative in a place that was barely recognized as a city until into the 19th century, when it began to flourish under British, Indian, and Iranian influence. Initially the merchants came for the pearls, as they had for hundreds of years. Dubai’s modern era really began in the late 1950’s with dredging of the Deira Creek and development of the harbor, making it a commercial gateway to the rest of the world. In 1966 oil was discovered, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

My earlier trip involved days of “ooh’s” and “aah’s” over Disney-defying complexes as the still being constructed Palms, the land being reclaimed from the sea to build a replica of the continents. This time I did not spend my time running from one manmade experience to another. This time I enjoyed relaxing over a cup of tea and conversation and watching local displays of an Emirati’s most prized possession—a magnificent falcon.

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