UAE 2010 (once again) Day 1: Flying to Dubai, shopping, Burj Khalifa at night

Date: 12th November 2010

On Monday the 8th of November, 2010, I got a bunch of missed calls as I was preparing to head to office. When I finally did speak to the person, it turned out it was someone from VH1 India informing me that I had been shortlisted as finalist in their Linkin Park Ticket to Ride Contest!

But before that, she had a bunch of questions to ask: “Do you have a valid passport?,” “Can you fly at short notice?” and then asked around 9 questions about the band itself. After answering most of the questions, said she had to speak to the others and that she would call back in some time.

After the call, the only thought that came to my mind was: “HO-LY SHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the 60-plus times I took part in the contest on Vh1 India’s Facebook page paid off!” I eagerly awaited the return call and 5 minutes later, it came.

She told me I was selected as the final winner because I answered the most questions!

Jeff Gerstmann Woohoo fistpump

"Woo-hoooooooooo!"

She told me I could take a guest too and so I chose my elder brother Nithin, who had never been to UAE. She also told me she would send me details on tickets, where we would be staying and how we would be going to the venue. First, we weren’t going to staying in Abu Dhabi, where the Yas Marina Circuit is located. Instead, we would be in Dubai.

Hey, I wasn’t going to complain. From there, on the day of the race, we would get picked and dropped via taxi. Cool, works for us!

After we hung up, I couldn’t hold my excitement and fist-pumped “Yes!”. This was the first time in life I actually won something big! Anyway, I headed to office and also prepared to get our visa arranged (we still had to do that ourselves).

For our Dubai visa, we approached DVPC by VFS Global, the exclusive service for all Emirates flights. We rushed all our documents to their office on Cunningham road on Tuesday afternoon and hoped we could get our visas by Thursday, since our flight was on Friday early morning.

Long story short, we managed to get our 96-hour/4 day visit visa (costs Rs. 3000 per person) processed by then.

On the dawn of Friday 12th, December 2010, we were in our Emirates flight from Bangalore to Dubai.

Star lit sky night from Emirates plane

It was a very star-lit night sky

Emirates breakfast India to Dubai flight

Early breakfast was pretty decent

We landed in Dubai at 7am.

Dubai airport tarmac terminal 4 construction

As if three terminals weren't enough

Dubai airport Emirates planes arriving in morning

We rode on the tarmac for nearly 5 minutes before finally stopping

We descended into one of those airport buses to get to the terminal. That ride took another 5 minutes — and my god was it cold inside that bus! It was mobile freezing chamber!

We finally got into Terminal 3 and made our way to immigration.

Dubai airport inside terminal 3 arrivalsI was a bit worried about visa because we didn’t get any official copy prior to our departure since everything was so ‘last minute’. But it was in our ticket and we faced no issues at immigration.

Dubai airport inside arrivals interiorsDubai airport inside terminal 3 walkalatorOnce out, we hailed a taxi and headed to Deira where our hotel was located.

We were put up at Fortune Hotel. We had breakfast and checked into one of our rooms (we got two individual rooms). First thing I did after stepping out was call up my parents and then inform my friends in Dubai that I had arrived. We didn’t rest for much because we only had one day to roam around Dubai.

We briefly caught up with my good friend Azhad, walked around Deira a bit and then made our way to the creek.

Dubai creek abra boat passengers afternoon ride

Dubai creek abra station Deira afternoon rideDubai creek trade boat afternoon skyDubai creek abra boat afternoon sky

Dubai creek trading ship

Though not the main port anymore, trade still goes through these waters daily

Dubai creek view afternoon Rolex towersDubai creek Bur Dubai mosque afternoon

Dubai creek Bur Dubai abra dockDubai creek Bur Dubai abra dock afternoonDubai creek Bur Dubai mosque abra speedThe abra ride costs just AED1 is one of the must-dos when in Dubai, be it in daytime or at night.

Once in Bur Dubai, I showed my brother the souq.

Dubai creek Bur Dubai market souq afternoonDubai creek Bur Dubai market souq entranceI’ve covered the souq a lot more in my trip from April. We went around a bit, bought some chocolates and made our way towards the Bur Dubai bus station.

Plaza cinema theater Bur Dubai

One of the oldest theaters in Dubai

We were in Bur Dubai to meet my friend Jassim, who had invited me and my brother over to his house for lunch.

He picked us up in his Mitsubishi Pajero.

Dubai inside Jassim's Mitsubishi Pajero

Dubai inside Mitsubishi Pajero dashboard interiors

With a mileage like that, it's a good thing petrol is cheap in UAE

Once at home, we were treated some fantastic mutton biriyani Jassim’s mother-in-law prepared. It was brilliant! Oh, there was chicken too. Equally delicious.

Dubai Jassim family

Our gracious hosts (the adults i.e., the kids didn't care much for our presence)

After an extremely satisfying (and heavy) lunch, Jassim offered to drive us to our next destination.

Dubai Jassim driving PajeroDubai construction progressingDubai Al Riyadh street overpass

Dubai Raffles pyramid hotel

Raffles Dubai hotel, attached to Wafi Mall

Dubai skyscrapers buildings skyline shadow

Never tire of this sight

Dubai building for sale

Dubai festival city building

We were on our way to Festival City

Festival City was the only major mall I didn’t visit the first time I came to Dubai, back in April.  Also, the mall houses Dubai’s IKEA store.

Dubai Festival City parking Pajero vs Hummer

The Pajero faces off with the soon-to-be-extinct Hummer

Dubai Festival City Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant

Popular British chef Jamie Oliver is opening a restaurant here

Festival City is another mixed-use development, comprising of a mall (of course), residential apartments, offices and even a marina.

Dubai Festival City marina panorama

(Panorama comprised of 6 shots)

Dubai festival city marina yachts

Dubai Festival City Intercontinental Hotel

There's a Hotel Intercontinental here

Dubai Festival City water canal

A water canal offering boat rides as well

Dubai Festival City water boat rides

Plenty of eateries by the water canal too

Once inside, the store offerings weren’t that different from any other major mall in Dubai.

Dubai Festival City mall water wires panorama

This was pretty cool though

Dubai Festival City water wires long

Water trickles down these wires and makes a sound when it touches the ground

Dubai Festival City mall storesDubai Festival City floors

Dubai Festival City Ikea store

Why we came to Festival City mall--IKEA (There is no IKEA store in India, yet)

Dubai Festival City lit up trees

After nearly an hour inside, we were done with our shopping

Jassim quickly took us around to show us some more unique ‘water fountains’ inside Festival City.

Dubai Festival City water fountain streaming

Dubai Festival City water fountain structure

But this big one takes the cake

Dubai Festival City unique water fountain closeup

That's a thin stream of water flowing all the way down

Dubai Festvial city inside eventsWe were running late and Jassim had to head back home. So after quick stop at an electronics store, we headed back to the car parking.

Dubai Festvial City Lacoste Paris galleryDubai Festvial City at night moonDubai Festvial City Intercontinental Hotel nightDubai Festvial City water canal at night

Dubai roads driving night

Next stop, Dubai Mall

Dubai clock tower roundabout at night

Dubai's old landmark

Driving on Sheikh Zayed road at night

Sheikh Zayed road, where all of Dubai's new landmarks are

Dubai Pajero sky roof open

Sky roof open...

Dubai Jassim driving Pajero night

... volume up!

Jassim dropped us off at Dubai Mall and we said our goodbyes.

Dubai Mall entrance NithinWe had booked our entry to Burj Khalifa’s At The Top for 8pm. But we quickly went around the mall before that.

Dubai Mall aquarium world record

First we passed by Dubai Aquarium

Dubai Aquarium Guinness world record plaque

The Guinness Record for the World's Largest Acrylic Panel

Dubai Mall Aquarium world fishes diverDubai Mall Aquarium ceiling decorationMy brother wasn’t really interested in going inside the aquarium. So we continued up.

Dubai Mall Christmas decorations

Dubai Mall Denon LG showrooms

My brother instead wanted to check out home theater systems

He was tempted to pick a unit which cost half of what it costs back in India. But given the size of the entire package (and fearing customs,) he dropped the idea.

Dubai Mall digital runway screens

Funky runways huh?

When it was time, we made our way to the At The Top counter in the basement.

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa model At The TopDubai Mall At The Top experience NithinMy brother isn’t staring at a white screen, watch this video for what you really see.

Dubai Mall At The Top observation deck which floor

I didn't get it the right the last time but this time I vowed to point to where exactly the observation deck on Burj Khalifa is

Once we reached the top via the fastest elevator in the world, I switched to video:

This is the view at night in photos.

Burj Khalifa At The Top view at night Dubai

Dubai Mall from top at night

Dubai Mall's roof goes green at night

Burj Khalifa At The Top view highways

The Address hotel Dubai at night

The Address hotel

Burj Khalifa At The Top view financial centre at night Dubai

Dubai's Financial Centre

Dubai Financial Centre buildings at nightBurj Khalifa At The Top observation deck at nightDubai labour camps at night

Sheikh Zayed road offices at night

Drive up further you reach Dubai Marina

Burj Khalifa At The Top observation telescopes

You can use these to get a simulation of how the same view looks in daylight

Dubai Sheikh Zayed road flyover intersectionDowntown Dubai The Address residences at nightAfter 30 minutes on top, we made our way back down.

Burj Khalifa elevator floors fastOnce down, we walked past the other displays as you make your exit.

Burj Khalifa ground displaysBurj Khalifa vision inspiration peopleBurj Khalifa ground video displays

Burj Khalifa escalator downBurj Khalifa exit walkalatorThis was the second time for me ‘At the Top,’ a more detailed description of the experience can be viewed here.

Once out, the Dubai fountains were on show.

Dubai Mall fountain show at night

The shows are every half an hour

Dubai Mall Christmas tree decorations

Islamic country, but they still deck a heck lot of lights for Christmas

Burj Khalifa in the dark Dubai

The tallest X'mas 'tree' in the world

We took the shuttle bus from Dubai Mall to the metro station. Even though we were tired and sleepy, we still decided to quickly check out Mall of the Emirates — four stops from Dubai Mall.

Mall of Emirates shopping mall nightWe were here mostly to check out the Virgin Megastore. Last time I was here, I spent quite a bit on video games. This time, we just picked up some blu-rays, a music CD… and then some more video games.

Mall of Emirates Ralph Lauren storeBy the time we were done with everything, it was 10:30pm. We had to get back, have dinner and then figure out how we were going to pack all our IKEA goods.

Dinner was shawarmas, which though better than the stuff you get in India, wasn’t as good as the ones I grew up eating in Bahrain. The Egyptian joint we picked it up stuffed it with french fries and wrapped it in kuboos instead of Lebanese bread. These were the kind of shawarmas pretty much everywhere. I don’t know, they were inferior in my opinion.

After dinner, I roamed around a bit in search of empty carton boxes big enough to hold our IKEA purchases but despite asking just about every cold store in our vicinity, the best I got were water bottle boxes. I came back with one but realized it was grossly insufficient.

Next morning, I had to call up my friend Azhad for help.

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5 comments

  1. ..And how may i be of help, sire?

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Didn’t get you. ‘Cause there aren’t any photos of you?

    [Reply]

  2. Sarita Karnik

    Hi Mithun,

    I happened to see your website by chance when I was searching for pictures of the Temple at Bur Dubai. I was fascinated by your pictures. You are obviously a very good photographer and you have captured the sights of Dubai so fantastically. Now whenever I have visitors I must show them your pictures and your videos. I particularly liked the night pictures from The Top. Will look at your other postings in leisure.

    Thanks for sharing them.
    Regards,
    SARITA KARNIK

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Sarita :)

    [Reply]

  3. In your ‘about me’ section you have said that you love good food. But that hasn’t reflected in your clicks. Where you have more than 1 click of the same building/event, you barely have 1-2 food photos for the whole trip. I would love to see the food varieties you have hogged :D

    [Reply]

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