Dubai, dawdling about the vertical city

I knew Dubai was a cluster of buildings little matching each other either for style or design, but looking at pictures is nowhere similar to staring at those steely beasts for real. Coming from the elegant Abu Dhabi, along Sheikh Zayed Rd, the impact of so many huge buildings close to each other is one of bewilderment.

My friend compared it to a face that went through too much facial surgery, and I can hardly disagree. It gives the impression of a reckless building rush, but it does have its own charm.

During my quick stroll around Dubai, I got to see the Jumeirah Souk Madinat (souk is the Arabic version of bazaar), a huge classy bazaar in a very Arabian style. The plan is to reproduce an easygoing market atmosphere, but once inside Jumeirah Souk you'll inevitably find yourself dwadling about luxurious shops and costly handmade products.

A walk in Jumeirah bazaar is very pleasant: I admit I have a soft spot for the Arabian style, so being immersed in such atmosphere was a real treat for me.

Within the Jumeirah complex there is also the worldwide famous hotel Burj Al Arab. I had heard plenty about it, seen hundreds of pictures of it, from every angle and lighting, however, as soon as we got closer, it did strike a chord. It sits on a tiny island of Dubai's coast and is built with a lovely taste of simple elegance. Impressive.

After leaving Jumeirah, we headed to the biggest shopping centre in the Middle East: the Dubai Mall. Seven floors of stores, nine floors of car parking, the Mall houses every majour fashion brand in the world and offers entertainment, a wide range of dining places, events and attractions, among which the most targeted is a huge aquarium (and its connected underwater zoo) hosting any kind of fish, with the possibility for divers to dive themselves and feed the fish directly. I admit, I'm not a fan of zoos or aquariums, as I can't bear the sight of animals kept in captivity.

I have only spent one day in Dubai, so I by no means have the knowledge to judge or even write extensively about the city altogether. However, I had the impression that the government, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, acts to meet the population's needs. This may seem obvious, but as used as I am to seeing Italian, and European, leaders approving laws for their sole personal interests and neglecting what the electorate had voted for, the Emirates' way to operate is totally new to me.

Dubai, as a purely financial and commercial capital, has inevitably suffered from the world's recession, from lower housing prices to a higher level of unemployment, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum can say without any doubt that he strongly managed to put his Emirate on the world map.


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