2009 World Cruise – Unlike the rest of the ports of call on this cruise, except Hawai’i, we have been to Dubai, United Arab Emirates before. Our son worked for a company based in Houston, Texas for two years and in 2007 he accepted a transfer to Dubai. We visited him in 2008, but we didn’t see a great deal of the city at the time. Our ship was docked in Dubai for two days. We planned to spend most of our time with our son and he was going to tour us around a bit.
Joseph and his girlfriend Carrie were waiting to greet us when we entered the teminal. We had not met Carrie before as she and our son had just started dating in early February. We had already arranged visitor’s passes for them so we took them on board, gave them a tour of the ship and had a buffet lunch in the Lido before going to Joseph’s apartment to visit and play a game (we play a lot of games in our family). Carrie had friends flying in from the USA to visit her for a week so she had to leave after our game to pick them up at the airport. The three of us walked to the marina for dinner (a really good Italian restaurant) before Joseph drove us back to the ship. Views from Joseph’s apartment at the Dubai Marina.
Looking the other direction from Joseph’s balcony. This vacant lot is now fully developed. In the distance, through the sand dust in the air, you can just make out the beautiful Burj Al Arab; the world’s only 7-star hotel. You could take a shore excursion, or make your own reservation, and go there for High Tea – VERY expensive tea. The Burj Al Arab, I think even more than the Burj Khalifa, has become Dubai’s signature building.
The ship had arranged a free shuttle to take passengers into town from the port. The next day we took the shuttle which dropped people off at the Burjuman Shopping Center. Joseph met us there and we left his car and took a taxi to the famous gold souk. The souk covers several blocks of small shops that sell gold jewelry. There are even shops on a second or third level. I have never seen so much bling in my life! Absolutely stunning pieces. Many of the sets in the window were for brides. On her wedding day an Arab woman will wear many pieces of jewelry; a large necklace, earrings and several bracelets. They must cost a fortune. We also wandered around Old Town and through the spice souk where you can purchase anything and everything you would like to season your food.
The most amazing thing about Dubai is the architecture. If you can conceive of a unique building someone in Dubai will build it. There is a building that looks like a giant grain elevator but the middle is missing. There are three buildings that are arranged like sections of an orange you have just peeled. And, of course, there is the famous Burj Dubai, which was renamed the Burj Khalifa after the Sheik of Abu Dhabi after he gave Dubai a cheque for some astronomical amount of money to help them out of a financial crunch caused by the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. This worked well all around because the Sheik of Abu Dhabi was planning to build his own tower that would be higher than the Burj. Now he is saved the expense because his name is on the tallest building in the world- and it’s just an hour down the road in Dubai. Win. Win. The Burj Dubai was still under construction when we there in 2009; all the windows hadn’t yet been installed. We spent 2015 Christmas with Joseph and Carrie in Muscat, Oman (They moved from Dubai to Muscat in November 2013) and we drove up to Dubai for the weekend (6 hour drive). One of the things we did was go to the viewing level of the Burj Khalifa, which is on the 124th floor. Trust me, it is a very strange sensation to be looking down on the rooftops of towering skyscrapers. It is VERY HIGH.
The Burj is currently the tallest building in the world at 828 meters (2,722′) but Saudi Arabia began construction in 2013 on the Jeddah Tower which will be 1 kilometer tall (3,280′) – 180 meters or 591′ taller than the Burj Khalifa. The Jeddah Tower is slated for completion in 2020. Dubai’s Burj Khalia took five years to build at a cost of US$1.5 billion. In contrast Saudi Arabia’s new Jeddah Tower has a budget of US$20 billion!
After our walk around Old Town and the souks we went back to Joseph’s apartment for the afternoon. We left at 4:15 to pick up Carrie at her apartment as we were all going to eat in the dining room on the ship. Traffic was really backed up and we moved at a crawl. As we neared Carrie’s apartment building we discovered that, since the day before, they had completely changed the road and we need to make a detour. (This was, and probably still is, a common occurrence in Dubai – roads just get changed without warning or notice.) The normal 10 minute drive took 45 minutes and we still had a 40 minute drive to the port. Dinner was scheduled for 6. We pulled into the parking lot at 5:46. I ran ahead and told everyone the others were on their way and we all sat down at the table only five minutes late.All the tables in a ship’s dining room are bolted to the floor. They can’t just be rearranged to add more people. Thankfully, since all aboard wasn’t until 11:30 that night, many people had chosen to eat in Dubai. That allowed Heri, one of the dining room managers to bring up another small table from somewhere on the ship and set it at the end of our normal table for six. We introduced Joseph and Carrie to our table mates Charles and Evelyn and Tim and Elaine and we all had a wonderful time at dinner. Since he lives so far away from home it was a real treat for us to spend time with our son and meet his girlfriend (now his wife). Two great days in Dubai.