I am back on the Island and still stunned by the amazing physical infrastructure that I have seen in Dubai during the last couple of days: This city was turned from a desert to today’s business hub with the highest tower in the world, and some of the most impressive hotels and beach resorts. Sure, there is still some work to do, many of the large-scale projects are on semi-permanent hiatus thanks to the big crash in 2008. Luckily the ruling family jumped in with finishing the highest tower, Burj Khalifa. That is also the reason why it has been named after them. The initially planned name was “Burj Dubai”.
In most parts of Dubai, I really felt like I was beamed to a future city out of a Sci-Fi movie…except the flying cars were missing. 😉
I just realised that I never really explained what actually brought me to Dubai. Well, the main reason for my visit was an invitation to be a guest speaker at the Middle East Social Media Conference. I got great insights here about the social media landscape in the Arab world like this Social Media Report.
As part of this trip, my local team used the opportunity to organise several meetings and interviews with bloggers, tweeters and the local media, as well as a lecture in front of MBA students of SP Jain College. I was even invited to a local TV station. An experience itself!
And in between all those meetings I got to know a bit about the emirate itself; the life in a desert, as well as the local culture, which is mainly defined by the microcosm of Dubai’s multi-ethnicity.
In summer – which is starting right now –
life in Dubai evolves around magnificent hotels and beach resorts or inside impressive malls that outbid each other with attractions like indoor skiing, aquariums, ice-skating and the best shops from around the world.
Dubai also is known for its nightlife, which takes place in the many hotels around the city like the skyscrapers on the Sheikh Zayed Road. The reason is simple, drinking alcohol in public places is a strict no-no. Liquor can only be served to non-Muslims within hotel grounds. So when you see people sitting outside with colourful cocktail glasses, remember it is only fruit punch!
Besides the futuristic towers and majestic new hotel resorts, there are two old parts of town that are worth stopping at: ‘Bur Dubai‘ – where I visited the ‘Heritage Village’,
..walked past the Grand Mosque,
…along the Creekside and through the Textile Souk.
The second oldest part is ‘Deira‘. The Social Media Conference took place here and it was where one of our Tweetups was held at Special Ostadi – an Iranian Restaurant known for its meat.
In general, if someone is looking for culture and history, Dubai is probably not the place to go. Most of Dubai that you see today was built in the past two or three decades. However, here you find a good guide about UAE’s history.
So what I liked best in this city:
- Taking the Dubai Metro from Deira City Centre to Burj Khalifa
- Drinking cocktails in Atmosphere Bar on the 123rd floor of the tallest building in the world
- Looking at Burj Al Arab during sunset while having dinner at La Veranda
The impressive aquariums in Hotel Atlantis as well as in the Dubai Mall with the world’s largest acrylic panel
- Drinking Frappe at More Café in Gold & Diamond Park
- Eating “Um Ali“ – a wonderful dessert
Those are my recommendations – you can write them down on your list for your next visit to this futuristic Emirate.