“The Vegas of the Middle East”

I was supposed to go see a friend in Oman but unfortunately she got Covid and I was out of time to reschedule. So I tacked a few extra days onto Dubai. This turned out to be a wise decision, as it was a city of huge proportions and endless activities, especially as the 2020 World Expo was still happening, as it too was postponed by Covid.

My hotel room was situated to see the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, from my window, as well as the river that ran between my part of town and the main downtown.

I immediately had to go see Burj Khalifa of course, and was pleased to find that public art was part of the scene.

I also needed to make a pilgrimage to the famous Mall of the Emirates, which is so big that it contains a SKI SLOPE. Since I knew I would be landing in a few days in Colorado where several inches of snow would greet me, I decided I didn’t need that particular experience!

I took a night boat tour and got to see crazy hotels and resorts, including this one and the one at the top of this email.

The tour also included some demonstrations by traditional dancers, including this amazing guy!

Back on dry land in the daytime, I took in more skylines. This is not downtown! This is just one of many “suburbs” you can get to on a super-clean high-speed elevated subway, that feature gigantic buildings that would dwarf the downtowns of most cities!

But the mosques maintain their impressive presence:

You can spend the day at the beach…

And a night at a sophisticated Cirque du Soleil-like performance of aerobatics, rain and fire:

Then you can cap things off with the water fountain music display at Burj Khalifa, which rivals if not exceeds the show at Vegas’ Bellagio Fountains.

The atmosphere was very different for women than I experienced in Saudi Arabia, and it was a joy to see women of all nationalities wearing tank tops and rollerblading around. But the UAE is still an Islamic country, with amenities like subway cars dedicated for women (and kids):

World Expo

I had always wanted to see a World Expo and of course Dubai being Dubai rolled the event out in epic style.

I loved visiting all the country exhibits like the one above for Iraq, and thinking of future travel (!!).
And I was absolutely mesmerized by the animated projections onto a huge dome that served as a concert venue by day. I found out later this was the largest dome and projection system ever built. (naturally!)

And then what?

On my last night, in late February, I got this henna mendhi design to commemorate my time in the Middle East.

Then I flew from Dubai to Denver. My mother-in-law brought a parka to the airport as it was indeed snowing and I had no such piece of apparel in my luggage! I spent several days in Denver before heading to Austin for SXSW … which I will write about soon and post here, including video of our talk!

Until then, take good care of yourself and make new friends 🙂