Posts Tagged ‘Burj Khalifa’
When my mum was here, we did a lot of touristy things. One of them, scraping the barrel somewhat given it was the third week of mum’s 15th visit to the UAE, was to take a ride on the Trolley Bus that goes around Dubai Mall.
I barely need to tell you that the ride was more for DS than it was for my mum, but she was game to play along. And it was quite sweet, I suppose, inhaling the fumes of Dubai’s morning traffic seated on the wooden benches of the open-sided bus as it dodged speeding cars and trucks.
An experience, at least.
Anyway, as we were the only passengers, the conductor decided to point out all the landmarks to us. Every hotel was described in awed tones as “FIVE-star”, so the speech went something like this:
“Old Town. Nice view Burj Khalifa. The Address Hotel – FIVE-star hotel [eyes round with wonder]… Souk Al Bahar… The Palace – FIVE-star hotel [round eyes]… Dubai Mall – World’s BIGGEST mall…. Nice view Burj Khalifa – World’s tallest building… The Pavilion –nice place… Burj Khalifa… Mazaya Centre – shopping mall…”
Um? Mazaya Centre? Is that still standing? I looked in the direction he pointed and, blow me down, he was right – if you peeped through a construction site, over a fence and across the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road’s 14 lanes, you could just make out the Madonna-bra cones of the Mazaya Centre’s roof.
By Dubai standards, this mall is a dinosaur, and not even a T-Rex at that. Even in its heyday, back in Dubai’s Jurassic period when Spinneys was still inside it, it was dingy, dark and smelly. How it’s not been demolished is a mystery; why it’s being pointed out on a tour of Downtown Dubai I’ve no idea.
But, back to the tour:
“Armani Hotel – first 15 floors of Burj Khalifa: FIVE-star hotel. Al Murooj Rotana [peers under the flyover] – FIVE-star hotel. And now back at Dubai Mall.”
Now that’s what I call a FIVE-star mall.
“When am I going to get humpy?”
It’s not a question I’d ever dreamed of hearing from 6-year-old DD, nevertheless it’s one she posed in front of DH and I this morning.
We exchanged panicked looks. I can still see DH’s face, frozen in horror as he pored over his sock drawer. I knew what he was thinking: “I know they grow up fast, but…”
I took control.
“Sorry, darling? What did you say?”
[DD in irritated voice]: “When am I going to get humpy? It’s just not fair! I’ve been waiting for ages!”
Quizzical look from me.
“You know! Humpy? The class camel? Everyone else is getting to take him home for the weekend, but I never get him! It’s not fair!”
She was referring to a stuffed camel that’s sent home with a different member of the class each weekend, so they can document what they did at the weekend, illustrated with photos of Humpy.
You won’t believe how competitive it gets.
It’s like the mums, once Humpy falls into their hands, start taking speed.
“I know we were just going to go to the mall this weekend, and maybe for a bike ride,” I imagine them telling their startled offspring, “but why don’t we actually jump on a plane to the Maldives? We could get the Presidential Villa at Soneva Gili and row Humpy over in a boat! If we flew via Sri Lanka, we could go elephant-riding and be back in time to take Humpy sky-diving over The Palm then out for dinner at At.Mos.Phere? What do you think, kids? Maybe we could make a tiny parachute out of silk and diamonds and throw Humpy off the top of the Burj Khalifa and make a video of him floating down over Dubai Fountain as we toast him with champagne and fireworks? Whaddya think? Has anyone else done that?”
I can tell you now, when DD finally gets Humpy, he’ll be eating toast and marmalade on the sofa and watching CBeebies. Period.
As someone who loves driving and nice cars, I really dislike getting taxis over here. First there’s the whole thing about ordering them on the phone: Will they come in two minutes or 45 minutes? Will they come at all? At what point should you give up hope and drive yourself?
Then, if they do show up and you’re in, there’s the worry about what the ride’s going to be like.
I’m not talking about leather seats and an i-Pod docking station, I’m talking about:
Is the smell of B.O. going to make me gag out of the window? Frequently. Is the driver wild-eyed and foamy of mouth from exhaustion? Too often, poor guys. Does he drive like Michael Schumacher to try and impress the Western bird in the back? Always. Does the driver know where he’s going? Sometimes. Does the taxi even have seatbelts that work in the back? Often not. Will I get there in one piece? So far, so good.
Personally, I’ve seen too many smashed-up Dubai Taxis on tow trucks to be entirely at ease. It doesn’t say a lot that I always find myself thinking about my Will when I’m in a taxi over here.
Anyway, so Dubai has zero tolerance of drink-driving – that means, if you’re caught with even a teaspoon of brandy butter in your bloodstream, you go to jail and are consequently deported. If you’re involved in an accident and there’s alcohol in your system – even if you are faultless and some suicidal half-wit walks out in front of you on the highway and you haven’t had a drink since your pink gin for breakfast – your insurance is invalid and you have to pay blood money, are sent to jail and then deported.
Basically, if you’re going out for a drink, it’s a tough call: exhausted, maniac taxi driver in a clapped-out, smelly car, or the possibility of jail and deportation for drink-driving after sniffing the cork. DD’s nicely settled in school – it’s not worth the risk.
Last night I was planning on depleting the wine stocks of the beautiful beach bar we were frequenting, so I called a taxi. It came quickly; the guy seemed nice; the car smelled okay; he drove really nicely (apart from answering four mobile calls in 20 minutes but I can overlook that given he was doing so well).
I decided to have a chat with him. I speak a little Hindi and noticed that he was a Hindi-speaker.
‘How’s the traffic tonight?’ I asked.
I didn’t quite catch his reply, but I decided to plough on anyway rather than risk him turning around in his seat for clarification.
‘Busy in town?’
Mumble mumble, ‘town’. I didn’t want to start saying, ‘Sorry? Uh? Sorry?’, so…
‘Oh! Busy in town? Because of the Burj Dubai opening?’
‘How about out of town?’ Pause… silence. ‘It’s better?’
‘Will you be going up there later?’
‘Ha… ha…’ (this is Hindi for ‘yes… yes…’)
‘Lots of fares I should think, later, when everyone comes home?’
Silence. Long silence.
I looked out of the window.
‘Okay, bye,’ said the driver, and clicked off the call he’d been on on his mobile.
It was dark, but I’m fairly sure I blushed. Certainly, there was some squirming.
Last night, DH and I caught the Burj Dubai (now the Burj Khalifa) opening fireworks live, purely by chance. What a show.
Or, if you read the Times UK, what a ‘gaudy memorial to a lost decade of uncontrolled speculation.’ Okay, Times, we get it – you don’t like Dubai. Can you write about something else now? Please?