Friday, June 24, 2011

Dubai Meets Jackie

My good friend Jackie will be embarking on a EuroTrip for three weeks. To jumpstart her adventure she's transiting from Manila to Dubai then to Prague. Coincidentally, Dubai is my hub and I was thrilled to have her over even if it's  just 12 hours.

Normally for Philippine passport holders, a visit visa is required to enter the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, if you are transiting for more than 8 hours and flying with Emirates Airlines to Dubai, they will give you a hotel accommodation til your next flight. Technically, Jackie is on a sort of transit visa and I wanted her to have a glimpse of the sandbox.

I was beating myself up for not planning anything for her but in my defense where shall I take her in the middle of the night? Not until 5 hours before her departure to Prague when we came across a 2 hour City Tour. The heavens must have heard my prayers and we readily signed up for it. The tour starts at 5am and ends at 7am. Perfect! There's even enough time for breakfast before I take her to the airport.

The tour is basically to drive around Dubai and showcase its famous landmarks, important buildings and to introduce Dubai in brief.  I thought only Jackie and I would be in the tour but two other transit passengers joined us. Mr. Jivanek from Czech Republic and Mr. Shouvik from the USA.

The 2 hour City Tour would cover several spots in Dubai. Namely, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, Dubai Creek, Sheikh Zayed Road, Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis Dubai, Jumeirah Beach and Burj Khalifa. Actually, out of all these there are only three spots where the tour actually stops and allow the guests to take photos. The rest as our guide informed us, we will just drive past them.

Our tour guide is a young Indian guy with an accent so thick he was barely comprehensible. You had to listen extra hard to get what he was saying. I felt bad for Jackie and the two others because I felt that they deserved to get the most out of their tour. But now, they had to content themselves just looking left or right without truly understanding what they were seeing. Luckily, Jackie has me so I was the one giving her some details.

Here's a brief of the places we passed by. Maybe in my future blogs, I'll give more details. :)

Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
A contemporary sail design in reference to the Arabian dhow. It is Dubai's version of the Sydney Opera House.

Dubai Creek
A saltwater creek that divides Dubai into two main sections, the new and old Dubai; Deira and Bur Dubai. The creek is an important element in Dubai's commercial position as it is the only port in Dubai.

Famously known as Sheikh Zayed Road. It is the biggest and longest highway in the UAE. It is the link to the UAE's two major Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In Dubai, this highway is home to Dubai's famous skycrapers like the Emirates Towers  and Burj Khalifa.

Burj Khalifa
Also known as Burj Dubai. It currently holds 17 world record such as the tallest structure ever made. It stands proudly at 2,717 ft (828 m). Once on a flight back Dubai in the wee hours of the morning, as I was sitting in the cockpit, I could see its peak penetrating the clouds. That's actually the time I realized how high it was and why people are raving so much about it. But to be honest, it looks like a big needle to me. :)

Palm Jumeirah
An artificial archipelago created by land reclamation. As the name suggests, it takes the shape of a palm tree. Home to the uber rich. Littered with luxurious villas, apartments and hotels. It is a self declared as one of the 8th Wonders of the World.

Atlantis @ the Palm
A magnificent 6 star hotel inside the Palm Jumeirah that is modelled after Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. A massive property that holds 1539 rooms, a water park called Aquaventure, conference center, mall and Dolphin Bay where guests meet and swim with the dolphins.

Jumeirah Beach
A stretch of beach located in the Jumeirah District of Dubai, hence the name. Home to hotel heavyweights (Hilton, Ritz Carlton, etc.), luxury houses and Wild Wadi Water Park. It is also in Jumeirah Beach where the 7 star hotel Burj Al Arab was built on its own articial island 920 ft away from the mainland.

H.H. Sheikh Maktoum's Palace
It is what it is. The ruler of Dubai's home. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's crib. Obviously, one can only have a glimpse of the ruler's house and you could only go so far as it is expectedly guarded. The surprise treat is that outside the palace the Sheikh allows his pet peacocks loose! They do as they please. They strut ever so slowly showing off their beautiful trains for all the world to see.

The palace was our last stop and we are running out of time. We wanted a photo op outside the van but unfortunately we don't want to get caught during the rush hour. Dubai traffic is a drag!

As I brought Jackie to the airport for her flight to Prague, I asked her how she liked Dubai. She said she was impressed by what she had seen even if it was too short a time. She told me she'll be back and would explore Dubai on her next vist. She bid me goodbye and said see ya later Dubai!