We land in Dubai after a 15 hour flight and are totally exhaust. We are met at the airport and taken to the hotel for check in and dinner for the group. Everyone eats and afterwards we go directly to bed.
Today we start the city tour, but before that I have arranged a meeting with the tourism board and they give us a presentation of where Dubai is now and how it got there. For a country that is still so young, it is growing fast.
There are 7 million people in the Emirates which is Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ajman, Um Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaima, and Sharjah, but out of those only 950,000 are Emiratis, the rest are foreign workers that are in the country.
In Dubai you have a total 2.4mil and 200,000 locals, Abu Dhabi has 2.2million and 400,000 locals. I also found that the prices in Dubai are quite a bit higher. So you have people that are commuting from Abu Dhabi to Dubai for work and the distance isn’t that bad with the freeways, but now a trip that years ago would take only one hour is now taking two hours or more depending on rush hour traffic. When a lot of construction was taking place in Dubai it was even worse. The average rental prices for homes outside of downtown Dubai in the suburbs is $1500 a month, and in the city is two to three times the price. There have recognized “expat” neighborhoods where the foreigners in the Emirates live.
All Dubai citizens, once they get married to another person from Dubai, is automatically given $20,000 cash USD and a house, not an apartment but a house and for each child they are given an allowance of $300 per month.Their education and health care is all paid for. They do have a pretty nice life in that there are no worries for them. This is one of the reasons that even if an a person goes to study in the US they will return home to Dubai. Wouldn’t you?
Quite an interesting discussion. Then we started to see the city, and all the construction – every kind of building that you can image from the beautiful high rises to the very unusual architecture. Every architect that wants to try a new way of bldg or a very different looking build if they find someone from the region to sell this to he can get a permit to build here,
We went to the Dubai Museum, which is one that I really love and the best interactive one that I have seen in the Middle East. Upon entering, there is a map and it shows digitally how the area was total desert and how, with money, water and building started. Their is greenery everywhere. With desalination plants they are able to bring water from the sea to keep this going. Most of the workers are from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, etc.
This is one of the only Arab countries that I can come to and not speak Arabic. One of the group members was taking Berlitz class in Arabic and each time he tries it I would laugh since the people he was talking to would look at him to figure out what he was saying or what language!!
We took one of the boats across to the Creek to the old side of the city and into the souks of gold and spices etc. Not like the souks of Egypt and Syria, etc, also most of the shop keepers where from Pakistan or India. Saw a lot of Afghans and people from Sudan and Somalia, too. The Americans that you see here are mostly people working for big international corporations like Microsoft, medical companies, or were visiting their family members who worked for those companies. There are branches of the big medical centers in the US such as Mayo Clinic. We also heard that diabetes is quite big problem here and they have now opened an education center about this disease and how to control it. There is so much sugar in the diet, which back in the 60’s they did not have this problem since the sugar was always natural. You did not have it in coffee – you were served coffee that was just coffee and a date next to it for the sweetness. Now you are getting coffee with sugar and also a date.
In the afternoon we went on a number of site inspections at some of the hotels in the area, since the group I am escorting are travel agents that come to check out the destination and see the properties that their clients might like. Afterwards we went to the Jumeirah Mosque and then to the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel.
After this we headed to Abu Dhabi going by Jebel Ali Port and world largest man made port and onto Yas Island. We saw the Corniche and the water that is beautiful turquoise today, and then went to visit the Heritage Village.
Arrived into Abu Dhabi late and went directly to check in and have another beautiful dinner at the hotel. Real fresh seafood, Arabic cuisine, and wine was flowing for the group and they did drink!