Monday, September 30, 2013

Dubai - City Tour

Date: 18th October 2011

Dubai is 1 of the emirate seated within a unification of UAE (United Arab Emirates). There are 6 others emirate in UAE beside Dubai; i.e. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. We had a branch office in Dubai during a boom period and still being maintained the small office till present though we have slow down operation in Dubai substantially. 

UAE flag

My first official visit to Dubai was in 2008, before the Dubai Metro line was even open. During the first short trip, I hardly had time for shopping as when I finished with the meetings, the mall was about to close and I merely stand outside Burberry shop drooling after reaching the Mall during that 1st trip. The next day before my flight was scheduled to take off to Karachi, our office colleague was kind enough to take me around for Dubai city tour. I made a photo stop at Dubai Al-Burj, once was very famous tourist attraction. We also stop at the Atlantis, the Palm, which was newly opened.

During 1 of my trip to Pakistan in October 2011, I made an effort to stay overnight to explore the city and safari nights by booking the tour arrangement with the hotel. From the hotel, the luxury van stopped to pick up few other tourist at a different hotel and off we went to the Gold Market @ Gold Souk. The second stop was at the Dubai Creek located in the old part of Dubai City. Before taking a boat ride, we stopped at the Spice Market. I will made a separate story of this 2 places, Gold Souk and Spice Market.

The seawater Dubai Creek is the trading port on the Gulf to other parts of the emirate. The old fashioned boats called dhows criss cross the water from Bur Dubai on the left bank to Deira on the right bank. We took a cruise on a water taxi dhow travelling further upstream of which reveals the high rise buildings lining the creek, passing under several bridges.

The 3rd stop was at Wafi Shopping Mall which is part of the Egyptian Style Wafi City. The mall,represent the main feature of the Wafi city. The mall is opened in 2001 includes over 200 stores and has a small theme park inside. Raffles Dubai, a pyramidal shape 5 star hotels begin it's operation in November 2007.  

Raffles Dubai adjacent to Wafi shopping mall

Wafi City is a mixed-use development. The complex includes a mall, hotel, restaurants, residences, and a nightclub. The city is designed and styled after the Ancient Egypt, themed environment includes columns reminiscent of Karnak, small pyramids and images of pharaohs. All the walls are the color of the light brown stone that can be found on all structures in Ancient Egypt.

Entrance to Wafi Mall with a couple from America

There's a pyramid in Wafi city which is a complex that contains several restaurants, cafes and spas, including Cleopatra's Spa and Pharaoh's Club. I did not explored up to the pyramid area but chose to explore the external compound which were landscaped perfectly suited to a taste of the Pharaoh. The Spa and the Club are given free membership for the Wafi residents who occupied the adjacent Wafi Residential complex nearby.

Imitation of Egyptian Pharaoh

Our next stop was to the World tallest building, Burj Khalifa who stand aloof, visible from far distance. Burj Khalifa known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration is the tallest man-made structure in the world at 829.8m. The construction began in September 2004 and the exterior structure was completed in October 2009. The building was officially opened on 4th January 2010. 

Important to note that the South Korea, Samsung C&T is the primary contractor responsible for the construction, an proud to the Asian construction company.

So unfortunate that the project's completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007-2012 affecting Dubai's vast overbuilding property greatly. Dubai government forced to seek out multi billion dollar bailouts from its oil-rich neighbor, Abu Dhabi. The tower was renamed Burj Khalifa (from original intended Burj Dubai), said to honour the UAE President, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support. The rents in Burj Khalifa plummeted 40%, 10 months after its opening and out of 900 apartments in the tower, 825 were left empty. Overseas investors steadily began to purchase the available apartments and office space in Burj Khalifa over the next 2 and a half years. By October 2012, Emaar reported that 80% of the apartments were occupied. 

Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world, adjacent to Burj Khalifa

Our vehicle was parked next to rear entrance of the Dubai Mall, the world largest shopping mall based on total area but 6th largest by gross leaseable area. It is part of the 20 billion dollar Downtown Dubai Complex and includes 1,200 shops. It was opened in November 2008 attracted over 52 million tourist in 2012. It has Dubai aquarium and water under water zoo beside Dubai Ice Rinks and indoor Theme Park.

We took a turn into the Jumeirah Beach thereafter. The beaches in below photo look so quite and empty, almost deserted.

We took opportunity to explore Miraj, Dubai Islamic Art centre. There are many displayed items including souvenirs and arts of decoration for sales.  

When we took another turn to admire the Dubai Al-Burj. I just snapped few photos from inside the car as the weather was unbearable for me to step down outside.

Thereafter, we were heading towards the artificial built land of Atlantis and the new reclamation development within the areas. Atlantis, The Palm is a resort located on Dubai's reclaimed artificial island, The Palm. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is based on the myth of Atlantis includes distinct Arabian element. The resort was opened in September 2008. 

The resort has 2 accommodation wings, referred to as the Royal Towers consisting of the East and West Tower, both linked by the Royal Bridge suite. It has 1,500 guestrooms and suites with private balconies and views over the Palm and the Persian Gulf. There are 2 underwater suites, each 3 storeys high with views directly into the Ambassador Lagoon. It cost a fortune to stay in this this suites. 

We were on the artificial island a little bit longer to see other developments comprised of all high rise on Jumeirah Beach. By 4pm, we were back to the hotel to be ready for the next Safari desert adventures.

View of Dubai Jumeirah Beach

Old town where the original Dubai city was once originated

To be continued....
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