Starting to Feel At Home
13.04.2011 - 24.04.2011 35 °C
We are ending our first week here today on Easter Sunday. Sunday is the start of the work week here - Friday is the Sabbath and Saturday completes their weekend. Fridays are very quiet with no construction activity. The stores are all open though and they are busy with shoppers. While you don't see many people outside on the streets, you do see plenty in the air conditioned malls and there seem to be malls everywhere.
Dave picked up his car on Wednesday and the getting lost began! Even with a GPS it is difficult to find your way in this place. There are so many roads under construction that the GPS is often incorrect too. This city has not been built on a box like grid and the roads curve all over the place so it is very easy to become disoriented. When they laid out the city they had all the space in the world therefore they had the luxury of being able to design the highways and major roads in such a way that there are minimal stops on major arterial routes. but lots of circular on and off ramps so you frequently find yourself doing several large circles as you try to get to a building only a stones throw away. The goal is to keep traffic continously flowing rather than stopping and starting at major intersections.
Another very interesting aspect about the Dubai streets is that there are no house or building numbers! You just go to a street and look for where you want to be. All the big buildings have names but no number. One night Dave had trouble finding a cab who knew where our hotel was - if they don't know, they won't take you. All businesses and hotels only show a P.O. Box number on their brochures and business people only have a P.O. Box number on their business card, not street address, it is very weird. There is no such thing as a local postal delivery- snail mail seems not to play a big role in communications here. We have yet to see where someone might post a letter - there are no mailboxes on the streets and no post office signs in stores or anywhere else. We're not even sure there is a public postal system beyond services like UPS and the private couriers. Perhaps by the time this city started to be built in the late 1980s and early 1990s there was no real need for a traditional postal system? We will put that one on the list of things to find out.
Now that we have a car the exploring is proceeding in earnest. On Friday (local sabbath) we drove out to the Palm Jumeirah which we can see from our hotel. This is the man made development extending out from the city coasline into the Arabian Sea in the shape of a palm tree. It is HUGE. The trunk is made up of a four lane divided highway with a canal dividing the two sets of lanes. Two lanes run North and two run south. Running along each side of those 2 lane roads stretch good sized upscale apartment buildings - about 10 stories high. You then come to the area where the fronds branch off - there are 8 fronds on each side each with a name and a letter. Each frond has a row of very upscale villas in a variety of configurations ranging from average size houses to major mansions. From the mainland to the top of the stem is roughly 6-8 km. At the top of the stem you enter the most beautiful tunnel (goes under a section of the harbour) we have ever seen. It is 3 lanes of traffic in each direction with beautifully tiled walls and soft lighting. It is probably 2-3 km long. When you emerge you enter a long crescent shaped roadway which encircles both sides of the palm fronds. At the very apex you find the fabulous resort of Atlantis with its Aquaventure park. Have at look: http://www.atlantisthepalm.com/ All along the east and the west crescents large opulent resorts are being built. Several are already occupied while several others are in various stages of construction.
Atlantis from The Crescent West
Next blog post will be about the amazing Mall of the Emirates which is only 5 km from our hotel.