As we came out of the tunnel, to our right was our next stop.
Once we took a left and got on to “The Walk,” I pretty much knew why people throng to this place. It’s essentially Dubai’s ‘Exhibition Road’ (a once very popular stretch in Bahrain where traffic moves slowly and people, well, come to show off — among other things).
The Walk is part of Jumeirah Group’s massive property by Jumeirah beach. Lined along the stretch are shops, restaurants, hotels and the Jumeirah residences.
We finally managed to get a parking spot and while there were the usual luxury brands, given this is Dubai, one really needs something too rare to really stand out from the crowd.
And whoever was the owner of this Batmobile-esque Mercedes McLaren SLR, surely had it!
Freakin’ sweet. A supercar indeed!
After watching the sun set, we went back to the parking lot.
Since it was time sunset prayer, Azhad and Jassim made their way to the prayer hall like good muslims, while I waited out looking at the slow moving traffic.
After prayers, we moved on.
Jassim told me that we needed to crossed over to the other side as he wanted to show me something. I didn’t really know what or why but I figured it would be more buildings.
It was buildings alright…. but I never expected this!
I really wasn’t expecting a sight like this in, of all the places, Dubai. I was looking forward to seeing all this when I go to Singapore in September and in Hong Kong next year, but in the middle of a freaking desert? Wow.
Now I get what Dubai Marina is all about. It’s like the guys at Emaar Properties (the same folks behind Burj Khalifa) visited Marina Bay in Singapore and Hong Kong’s Kowloon Bay and went: “Hmmm, very bretty… very nice… we like… we want also.* ”
And then came back, spent a few billion, dug out a lot of sand and half a decade later — voila!
After being mighty impressed with the world’s largest man-made marina, we headed back to ‘show-off boulevard’.
We set off into town and made our way to the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue for tonight’s David Guetta’s concert.
Upon reaching the venue, we figured we still had some time to enter so we decided to do dinner. Jassim parked his car near Emirates Towers and we made our way to Nando’s.
Me and Jassim had a good meal, Azhad didn’t 🙂 … and wanted to get home quick!
So after seeing our friend off at the metro, me and Jassim went back to the car to get ready for ‘the party’.
After finding a parking spot, we walked towards to the concert hall where there were a lot of guys with heavily waxed hair and girls with heavily waxed skins.
And boy were we glad we bought our tickets well in advance! The show was sold out and many were around seeking extra tickets. We got in around 11pm where an opening DJ was was warming up the crowd.
The man himself didn’t hit the stage until 1am. And just when he was about to… disappointment. My Nokia E72 with the 5 mega-pixel camera dies out on me. All I’m left with is my mom’s basic 2mpx Nokia and even that was low on battery.
Sorry, but these grainy photos are all I have. (Some are from my friend Jassim’s iPhone)
Grainy photos won’t do the concert justice, so just watch this if you want to know what the atmosphere was like:
To sum in up in one word: AWESOME! This was one of the best concerts I have been to. The crowd was insane! Over 10,000 people packed into one massive hall. And I would so pay to see David Guetta live again!
David Guetta left the stage exactly at 3am, the time when all of Dubai has to shut off it’s loud music and stop the sale of liqour.
By the time we reached the car, our legs were tired as hell! This was one packed-evening/night/dawn. I saw a lot, ate a lot and danced a lot.
Today was going to be one heck of an ‘out-&-about’ day. My friend Jassim was free to drive me around and show me the parts of Dubai (as of the above date) the metro service hasn’t covered yet. After all the sight-seeing, we were then going to close out the night with one of the biggest events of this trip — catching David Guetta’s performance in Dubai!
But first, the day.
The morning started out slow and I was mostly indoors. As for lunch, Azhad decided to treat me to a local experience. So we headed to Al Rigga road in Deira.
The restaurant was Bait Al Mandi, a popular Yemeni joint.
What’s unique about this place? Well, they serve Al Mandi — essentially meat on top of flavoured rice. You might be thinking biriyani. but you’ll get a better picture once you see the photos.
We sat upstairs, where you had individuals cabins in which you sit down on the floor.
The meal consists of a lentil soup (which was lovely), an entire cup of curd, and the main dish itself — be it mutton or chicken. And yes, that is an entire half chicken you see above.
Just that… it was too much! We couldn’t finish all the meat. And the amazing thing is, all this costs less than Dhs 50 (Rs. 600/$13/€11). You can’t ask for a more filling meal in Dubai.
Once we were (partly) done with our heavy lunch, our friend Jassim arrived to pick us up. He had a plan in mind (since he’s done these ‘tours’ for visiting family) and we began our drive.
We made a quick stop at the Al Badia Golf Club — an impressive, built completely from the ground up, golf course.
We moved on shortly after.
We then made a brief stop at the gas station to stock up on junk food.
The souk is the shopping mall attached to the Madinat Jumeirah resort, an impressive resort offering from the Jumeirah Group — the owners of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Yes, this yet another mall and I thought I was done with malls because once you’ve seen the biggest and the best, it takes a lot to interest you in another. But Jassim assured me this was a mall that was quite different from the others.
Madinat Jumeirah in Arabic translates to ‘City of Jumeirah’ and is resort complex designed keeping in mind old Arab architecture. It houses two hotels, several restaurants and a few hundred stores.
We just did a roam-around of the mall.
Of all the malls I’ve been to in Dubai, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah really stands out as one of the best. It really is a great place to visit, be it for a date or a casual hangout. Plenty of restaurant options and you really can’t beat the setting.
With that, we were done.
Up next was another landmark of Dubai — and one that is best seen from the sky.
But since we couldn’t afford a helicopter ride, we had to see The Palm Jumeirah islands from the ground.
We drove past a lot of (what looked liked to me) empty apartments. To the left of the above photo was the proposed Trump Tower, now on hold.
We were heading towards to tip of The Palm Islands to see the famed Atlantis resort.
There’s a lot more to Atlantis The Palm than it’s exterior — but to enter the hotel, unless you are guest, you have to pay an entrance fee. I wasn’t too bothered because we had still more on ‘Jassim’s planned drive tour’ of Dubai’s hotspots.
After visiting Sheikh Zayed mosque, it’s not that I was done with Abu Dhabi or anything. I was going to come back to be with family, spend some time around the creek and visit the Yas Marina circuit.
But today, I was off to Dubai! Mostly to meet friends and to see the ‘heights of insanity’ Dubai’s reached in the past few years. I was going to visit all the famous buildings (because let’s face it, what else is there to see in Dubai?) and I was also looking forward to the David Guetta concert!
So yeah, a lot planned — and I was excited!
Post lunch, my uncle dropped me at the Abu Dhabi bus station from where I boarded the bus to Dubai (Dhs 15 = Rs. 180/US$4/€3)
The bus was, well…
Those monitors display the pristine condition UAE’s roads are in… if that’s your thing. No other in-bus entertainment, unlike Thailand.
The journey was expected to take around 1 and 1/2 hours.
As I was leaving the city, I got glimpses of what to expect to see at Yas Island.
The bus was hardly full and though you are assigned a specific seat with your ticket, I took advantage of the empty seats behind me and rested comfortably.
An hour later, we were in Dubai, on Sheikh Zayed road, just about to enter the city.
Building after building after building. Five years ago, this was all sand. They carved out the land to their desire, a lot of dredging and sand dumping later, they went from this…
… to this…
… and the work still isn’t done.
There are still more buildings yet to be completed.
In the Middle East, Dubai was always a land of opportunities. From the many expatriates who made their riches here to those who have now even made it their home. Despite the recession, there are still hundreds of job seekers from all parts of the globe here in Dubai in search of work.
In fact, I sat next to a fellow Indian (from Tamil Nadu), who was returning from a job interview from Abu Dhabi.
But hard as they may try, remnants of the current economic reality are all over Dubai.
Want office space? Dubai has plenty to offer.
As we drove up Sheikh Zayed road, to my right was the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Half-an-hour later, I was at Bur Dubai bus stand where my friend Azhad was waiting for my arrival. He got me a Nol Card, the smart card Dubai’s RTA (Roads & Transportation Authority) introduced to be used in the newly launched metro service and Dubai’s public buses. Your Nol Card costs Dhs 20 (Rs. 240/$5/€4) — of which Dhs 6 is deducted as the cost of the card — and the balance is your usable credit. The credit can be “topped up” at various stations and select stores all across Dubai.
We walked around a bit, chatted about old times and made our way to a bus stop. We had to make it across the creek to Deira, where Azhad stayed (& where I would be staying too).
After freshening up, Azhad didn’t waste any time in showing me around.
Azhad took me to the creek.
After an hour or so of walking, Azhad said we were now going across the creek to Bur Dubai on an abra.
Basically, small passenger boats that ferry people across the creek. The cost: Dh 1 (Rs. 12)
The ride takes less than 2 minutes, but taking a ride on the creek is pretty much a ‘must do’ for any visitor to Dubai.
Once on the other side, it was more walking to see what the souk had to offer.
Traders from India (mostly Sindhis, Gujaratis and Keralites) have been in Bur Dubai for years. So much so, the souk is also called Meena Bazaar by the local Indian community.
Given the Indian population in the area, it was no surprise to know the Hindu temple was also located here. Though, you’ll need some help in find it the first time.
Inside you’ll find stores selling all your religious and devotional ‘merchandise’.
Once out, it was straight to the Dubai Museum.
And with that, we made our way out of the museum.
Dubai Museum isn’t as big as say, Bahrain museum, but it’s still recommendable considering the entry fee is just Dhs 3 (Rs. 36/$0.80/€0.60).
We then roamed around Bur Dubai some more…
… went through the souk again…
… and then back to the creek.
We just kept walking along the bend.
After that, it was one last glance at the creek…
… before heading back.
By now my legs were aching and so, we decided to take a cab back to Deira.
For dinner, it was back to a Syrian restaurant in Deira.
I was really knackered by the time we got back to the room. Legs were aching and I just felt like sleeping. I saw quite a bit today and I was all the more excited about where I was going tomorrow — the tallest building in the world and the biggest mall in the region!
*P.S: Me & Azhad did our best… but we couldn’t finish the entire chicken.