Stephanie in Dubai

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Check out Steph’s fascinating post on Dubai!  Oh how I wish I was there! From http://stephaniewu.tumblr.com/

Saturated is the way of this city, dripping heavily with perspiration in the hot humid air, painted an opulent color of glistening gold and silver, sagging under the weight of money made from thick, dark oil.

However, Dubai’s majestic alien towers house nothing but air-conditioned, fake circulating air. It is an empty, affluent city redefining superficiality and westernization.

So, calling all Dubaians— where are all of your people? This city feels lonely and cold, echoing hollow without laughter or noise, just unvoiced silence and stares. I am fairly certain that all of this modern infrastructure takes a ton of money and time, but dear me, in my opinion you chose the wrong place to do so! The desert is a flushing hot and humid experience, and I am happy that when we head back there on our next layover, we’re not headed back outside away from 12degC AC.

Fascinating facts I’ve learned from our tour guide (we got a night tour of the city, glowing and futuristic under hazy fog, 93 degrees at midnight, damn.):

1) Petrol is cheaper than water. It’s about 35 cents a litre for gas, and 80 cents a litre for water.

2) Locals get free education and health insurance, to name a few benefits. Foreigners pay much, much more.

3) However, foreigners make up about 80% of the population (working or living), the other 20% are local people.

4) Foreign women can easily obtain citizenship, as local men can marry foreign women; however, local women are forbidden by law to marry foreign men. Thus, it’s also very difficult for foreign men to obtain citizenship.

5) Our tour guide lived in the Dubai Desert— in a labor camp (literally. We looked it up on the bus map today). He gets paid about $500/month for working 6 days a week for 12 hours a day.

6) He explained that there is no crime in the city because the city is so expensive, you must work hours upon hours a day. There is no time to go home and formulate criminal plans after work.

7) Houses here go for an average of about $8 million (we drove past many, and also the Shiekh’s palaces!), and apartments are about $40K for a 99-year lease (in the Palms). In addition, only locals are allowed to buy certain property, such as the apartments on the Palm’s fronds or houses on Jumeirah Road.

8) Of the seven United Arab Emirates, Dubai is the very commercial and rich city, which then allows more lenient laws on alcohol, religion and clothing. I’m trying to understand all the dichotomies between different religions and customs, but still was surprised at the sheer number of women dressed/veiled modestly. My long dress and cardigan didn’t even compare.

While briefing us about Dubai, the driver took us around to see many distinctive points of interests. I’ll post pictures soon! Settling into my hotel in Nairobi (which is an awful adventure in itself, will describe more later!) Good night, world.

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