Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 13: Dubai

I am on my way to Dubai, one of the 7 emirates of the United Arab Emirates. For those of you who don't know, an emirate is a political territory ruled by a Muslim monarch. Since Mecca has no airports with airline services I had to travel to Jeddah where the King Abdulaziz International Airport flew me to Dubai International Airport, which is the 15th busiest airport in the world. I was intrigued at how nice Dubai's airport was and inquired about how much it cost to build it. According to the usher, it opened in 2008 and cost approximately 4.5 billion dollars to make.

Dubai is known for its extravagant constructions, which have in fact led to the increase of trade and tourism, like the Emirate Towers, Palm Islands and my current destination: Burj Al Arab, a famous hotel. Property and construction contributes 22.6% of Dubai's economy, while trade adds on 15%. No wonder you see more and more buildings being erected every day in Dubai.

I rode on the Dubai Metro's Red Line, which is partly under construction and expected to be done by 2012. I arrived at Burj Al Arab, a lavish hotel that is known for its sail-like shape. It is also the second tallest hotel in the world. Luckily I knew one of the receptionists working there. On a summer trip to India a few years ago I met my good friend, Vincent Ganzon, who recently moved from the Philippines in search of a hotel occupation and economic opportunities. Prior to my adventure to the Middle East, I arranged with him to give me a tour of the hotel. I got to see an mezzanine fountain, extravagant rooms, and one of the best views of the ocean I have ever seen.

Vincent Ganzon

Burj Al Arab at night:

After the tour of the Burj Al Arab we took a taxi to the world's largest shopping mall: Dubai Mall. He told me that the city's economy is largely based on tourism and annually thousands of foreigners come to shop at Dubai's 70+ malls during their vacation and shopping sprees. This is why Dubai is commonly referred to as the "shopping capital of the Middle East". I'm trying to be conscious of my tight budget, so I only bought a few cheap souvenirs.

Pictures from Dubai Mall

Aquarium Inside Dubai Mall:

After walking for hours in the mall I decided to call it a day and asked Vincent to take me to my hotel, which is in no way comparable to the Burj Al Arab. I'm excited about my last day tomorrow!