En route to Ireland for Christmas, I included a two day stopover in Dubai, where I can handily fly direct to Dublin, avoiding the nightmare that is Heathrow Airport. When it comes to airports Dublin gets the DUB code as the older established airport while Dubai gets DXB. You get the feeling that if those codes were being given out now rather than in the 1930s (when Dubai was just a tiny village in the desert), they would be reversed. As an example of relative importance, in Instagram, there are 60 million posts tagged with Dubai and just seven million tagged Dublin. Dublin might have the history but Dubai has the future.
After emerging from DXB’s monstrous airport I grab a taxi to my hotel in Al Kharama district. After a shower and a change I’m ready to check out the ‘hood and see that the world’s largest building the Burj Khalifa is walkable from here. First I pass the huge Dubai Frame, the city’s newest attraction which opens in January.
I’m heading south-west towards the Trade Centre and downtown area. The Burj Khalifa is in the distance between the two buildings on the left. The weather is pleasant, low twenties in the afternoon. December is a good time to visit to Dubai, warm but not scorching hot. Certainly not by Mount Isa December standards.
I’m downtown and in the shadows, the Burj looming larger. The Burj Dubai opened in 2008 at the height of the GFC but deep in depth, Dubai needed the help of the oil-rich Khalifa emirs in Abi Dhabi and so the name of the tallest building had to celebrate them not Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is 829m high, has 163 floors and 24,348 windows which takes 36 workers four months to clean.
It proves quite difficult to get to thanks to Dubai downtown’s pedestrian unfriendly layout with wide and dangerous roads to cross and few pedestrian crossings. I eventually find the entrance to the building not through the street but through the Dubai Mall.
I can take or leave malls but this was opulent. This is the fashion wing and also the entrance to the Burj. However there was a three hour wait to get to the top and with darkness falling, I decided against it.
Instead I went outside to check out the lake and the (overpriced) Souk.
There were nice views of the Burj Khalifa though its 830m could not be captured in one photo frame.
Getting across the wide roads was occasionally to take your life in your hands but was often necessary due to the lack of overpasses or pedestrian lights.
On the second morning, I decided on a long 19km-each-way walk to the Burj-Al-Arab Hotel. Near the port I saw this wall mural.
Dubai’s Airport might be one of the largest in the world but Dubai remains a major maritime centre too. Established as a fishing village in the 18th century, Dubai’s port of Jebel Ali is the now world’s ninth largest.
As I set off on the long walk west to Burj-Al-Arab, I passed the Etihad Museum, UAE’s national museum. It was 9am and the museum did not open until 10am so I didn’t see inside.
Dubai may be a modern cosmopolitan city but its roots are still traditionally Muslim. You are reminded of this five times a day at prayer-time when the muezzin’s calls echo from the hundreds of minarets and mosques across the city.
I headed towards the shoreline with its long jogging paths linking the slew of beaches on the Persian Gulf. I went in for a quick dip and the waters were refreshing and clean.
About half way into my journey (about 10km so far) I hit the Dubai Water Canal. This iartificial waterway opened in 2013 with great views to downtown and the Burj Khalifa. It meant a few hundred metres of doubling back to the pedestrian bridge.
This is Tolerance Bridge, opened on 16 November this year to mark “International Day for Tolerance”.
View of downtown from Tolerance Bridge.
Burg Al Arab takes shape north of the canal but still some way distant.
Along the way were these small libraries dotted along the waterline. First opened this year they contain books in multiple languages to help people unwind by the shore.
After 19km I got to Burj Al Arab. The Burj is a luxury hotel, the third tallest hotel in the world and stands on an artificial island 280k from Jumeirah beach.
I turned around and had lunch near here. In the end it was an exhausting 40km round trip killing my feet but it was a lovely day and a lovely walk.
Brightly coloured ice cream van near the beach at Dubai. I was sorry later I didn’t partake.