We Nearly Didn't Do it in Dubai!
Do not laugh, this is serious stuff, but with less than 24 hours before we were to depart for Dubai, Noel lost his passport. I kid you not, our poor little 60m2 Fool em Flat was nearly demolished in the process! We pulled everything apart, but Noel's little blue NZ passport was no where to be found. After notifying the Police to obtain a police report, Emirates to change the flight (at extra cost), obtain new photos and complete 10 pages of passport application (yuck), Noel's boss to tell him we would be another day getting there, NZ House to organise an emergency passport, Dennis & Liz Signal who were due to arrive to complete renovations in the flat whilst we were away, and our landlady, we were mentally and physically exhausted in every way. It has to said that this has been the most stressful time we have ever experienced, quite truthfully, the worst, all happening so quick and causing absolute mayhem. Luckily, New Zealand House were absolutely fantastic, the application processed after hours on a Saturday evening, and Noel got his new passport before 9am on Monday to fly out from Heathrow that day at 2pm! Of course, the least of our worries at the time was to have an entry visa for Noel to get back into the UK, another story!
Dubai is a unique city, with its population of approx 1.3million, the population is made up of only 20% locals - with 80% made up from the Phillipeans, Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankians, Egyptians and ex-pats. They expect the population to increase to around 3million by 2017, and I would believe that after seeing all the development work and job opportunities there are in the city. Of the 20% local population though, only 8% are women!!
Despite being a desert climate with lower than average rainfall, water shortages are unheard of. The arabs have a complex of desalination plants (the biggest in the world) in Jebel Ali to boost production. All the gardens and parks (of which there are many, with still an abundance being built) all have irrigation systems in place using copper piping (no cheap pvc here mateys it would melt!) and the gardens are plush and green!
Every time the leader is mentioned in any newspaper he is recorded like this: " His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai." Yep, every time in print that is how he is recorded so if his name is mentioned more than once in an article, thats how it is! He is a visionary to achieve socio-economic and political development for the area, and his aim is to join the ranks of the more advanced countries in all fields. There is construction work going on everywhere, with roads and motorways and a new rail system and high rises everywhere you look. I counted 21 high rises under construction within a 1 mile radius (view from the bus window!). Incredible stuff don't you think? And the Emirate is to host the world's richest golf tournament with prize money in excess of $10million (American) in 2009 - wonder if Noel can qualify for that?
I went on a walking tour through the Textile, Spices and Gold Souks (markets) and crossed the Creek (the main river through the city) on an old traditional wooden "abra" (water taxi). The Creek water is so clean, emerald green, and is the life blood of the city with activities going on everywhere. I was mesmerized by the aroma of the fragrant spices with huge sacks filled to the brim with every type of spice, herbs, dried fruits, dates, nuts, chillis, vanilla pods, saffron strands, it blew me away! And the textiles, layer upon layer of beautiful materials, hanging in doorways, outside on the footpath, beautiful ornately designed gorgeous colourful fabrics in every direction - amazing! And gold everywhere! Jewellery, gold, chains, sparkling, yellow, white, diamonds......ahhhh what a dream!
I spent a day on Jumeriah Beach, a golden sanded palm laden stretch of coast to the Arabian Gulf, spotlessly clean water with nets to keep out the unwanted sealife! It was "Ladies Day" and as a result the locals as well as expats (not many other races, they were all working) were there on the beach. The Arab women are absolutely stunning, and most of them wore there designer incey wincy bikinis adorned with jewellery etc. Stunning! No photos allowed although I did take some! There were many though that remained covered from head to toe (and swam like that!).
Dubai is out to be the world biggest and busiest commercial den of the world! The Arabs are doing all they can to make it a fast paced commercial centre, their traffic is shocking. Every single Arab has these huge big brand new European 4WD's and they all go at speed along the 6 lane highways, there are accidents all the time which cause huge traffic jams (worse than Auckland) but no one takes any notice, they all still continue to speed and lane change and dodge through the traffic with great haste! Horrible! And you will see so many young Arabs driving expensive high powered european cars (especially the Arab women) with mercedes, masceratis, lotuses, ferraris, lamboginis, jaguars, bentleys, etc etc Amazing! I couldn't stop staring!
We are captivated by Dubai, we will return here, I regret we didn't get the time to do the Desert Safari trip which involved 4wd over the dunes followed up by dressing in traditional costume and having a meal on a carpet with belly dancing at night in the desert - next time Dubai, We will be back!!
We arrived back in London to 10deg. (after Dubai at 31oC) and Noel impressed the immigration officer waiting for him at Heathrow that he has been granted a temporary 6 month visa, that should give him enough time to deal with the Home Office to secure his ancestry visa - or will it!!
During our 10 day absence from London, we have noticed how dark it gets here now, by 4pm its pitch black and cold, I've packed away the bathing suits, beach towels and sunblock but wondering for how long - there are great deals to Goa, Tenneriffe, the Carribean and Kenya and Christmas holidays are nearly here ....hmmmmmmm watch this space!!