Today we took a road trip. Trish has never been to Dubai and had said she would like to go if we could arrange it. Joseph and Carrie had already considered taking a ‘long-weekend’ trip to their former home city. Work weeks in the Middle East go from Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the weekend. Carrie drove the car with John, Trish and me, and Joseph flew up after he finished work.
The drive from Muscat to Dubai can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending on traffic. Today was one of the six hour drives. Driving styles over here are very aggressive and very spontaneous – lane switching, tailgating, speeding, and cutting across lanes are frequent occurences. It is a stressful drive but Carrie did well. Her comments and mutterings about the other drivers were never very loud, only contained an occasional expletive and were generally quite mild compared to how it may have been if some of her passengers had been driving instead.
We saw two mild accidents, 17 camels and about 175 goats. The roadside shops parallel the road for miles out of Muscat. The towns just run together. Round-abouts are used and the middle of the circles are often filled with flowers and shrubs or a sculpture or a small building.
There is lots of roadwork being done along the route. Once through all the check points at the border crossing (there were two going out of Oman and four going into the UAE) the scenery changes dramatically. Suddenly there are sharp craggy peaks, followed by bright reddish-golden dunes which give way to almost white sand and scrub trees and then, just over a small rise, Dubai.
Desert camping is very popular. The Burj Khalifa dwarfs all the other skyscrapers.
We rented a three bedroom/two bath apartment with a folding bed for Trish. The apartment belongs to a family currenly away in the UK. The couple has 16-month old twins so there are baby toys and paraphernalia stored in corners. We have a pretty nice view from the apartment living room.
After we found the apartment we drove to The Lime Tree Restaurant for a bite to eat. Well, we really went there so Carrie could have her Triple Chocolate Brownie, but it was time for food anyway. Dubai is an ever-changing city and it was quite a challenge to navigate at times. Carrie kept having to re-envision the city map in her head to get us where we wanted to go. The final stop of the day was Mall of the Emirates, home to over 560 shops, 90+ restaurants, and the ski hill and winter fun center. The Mall and the ski center were beautifully decorated for Christmas. Dubai may be in a Muslim country but they know a commercial windfall when they see one. We arrived back at the apartment a little after 9:30 and Joseph’s taxi dropped him off about half an hour later. We all had had a very long day so there was no late night conversational lingering before we hit the sack.