Africa

October 2009- Dubai

Hello, everyone! I am in Dubai and feeling a lot better after getting some sleep. For some unknown reason, i can’t seem to sleep on planes, even after taking sleeping pills. So this flight was pretty bad for me. It was fourteen hours. The first five weren’t so bad and the last five weren’t so bad, but the four in the middle just about killed me. Only me and about four others were awake and we kept congregating in the back to talk and kill time. On the plus side I did get to watch 4 different movies, 5 episodes of 30Rock, and 5 episodes of 2 and a Half Men. Comedy really helps on long flights.

Dubai is amazing. If you have an overnight stay between connections, the airlines shuttles you to your hotel and you get all your meals paid for. And the best part was that I didn’t have to grab my bags when I got here; they just kept them somewhere and they transfer them to the Khartoum flight. Everything went super smooth- from stepping off the plane, to customs and immigration, to checking into the hotel was under an hour. After a shower and a dinner, I was ready to hit the sack and catch up on some much needed sleep!

This morning I went on a two hour city tour of Dubai. I got to see the huge Palm Island (from an aerial view it is shaped like a palm tree). On Palm Island are 2,000 hotel rooms, 2,000 apartments, and 2,000 villas. The apartments cost $4 million dollars for a 99 year lease. All villas on the islands have their own private beach.

I also saw the big hotel that is shaped like a sailboat- the only 7 star hotel in the world (reservations from $2000 a night to $11,000). Also the tallest hotel in the world, the tallest bank, the largest mall (1200 shops), the largest indoor ski resort in the world (skiing and snowboarding); I could go on and on. And imagine this- 25 years ago, there was one tall building in Dubai- and just desert. Now, this “desert” boasts the world’s largest dancing fountain.

They have 150 air conditioned bus stops spaced every 1 km throughout the city, as well as a monorail into the Palm Island. Today was a Friday, holy day, so traffic was light and we were able to stop and get lots of pictures- I will post asap. Everyone here has been super nice and super helpful- the service industry here is amazing, they act as if their whole goal is to make your life more wonderful.

Oh, for the ladies: the Crown Prince here is only 23, and not married yet. They have pictures of him up all over the city and guess what? He’s hot! He seriously could be an Armani model. He probably is.

We stopped by a market on my city tour and I thought I was being smart by not bringing my wallet- but I fell in love with a hand-embroidered silk scarf for $100, had to have it, so they delivered it to my hotel for me! Did I mention that Dubai is completely tax free? No income tax, sales tax, anything. Nationals get free health care, free college education, and even a gift of $30,000 when they get married. Nice life for people who one generation ago were basically desert nomads.

It’s a good thing I got my visa this week and not next- the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is on Nov 1 here, and all 16,000 hotel rooms in the city are already booked.

Well, I am at the airport now and waiting for my Khartoum flight. If Khartoum really sucks, I may have to look into applying at the international schools here- ironically, the American School in Abu Dhabi was the first international contract I was ever offered, way back in 2002!

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