The line above says it all. Dubai is infinitely cooler than its stodgy cousin Abu Dhabi and ever so much more exciting than pastoral Al Ain.
What is it that makes the city so cool? Is it the towering skyline that looms like Manhattan on the Gulf? Is it the proportion of cool people to uncool ones? Is it because you can purchase a 24K gold plated iPad there? Well, based on our experience celebrating our fifth anniversary (and the last one alone, without a curtain-climbing munchkin crawling about), Dubai is cool because it is considerably more relaxed and foreigner-friendly than the other places I mentioned. Dubai is cool because there is always something going on, which you just might happen to luck into being part of. Dubai is cool because if you’re looking for it, it’s probably there, somewhere.
We spent the night at the reasonably-priced (at least via booking.com) 4-star Dhow Palace hotel, which we found just opulent enough to satisfy our need for feeling special, and for dinner we ventured over to the rather more opulent Rotana near the airport, and had a splendid meal at the none-too-reasonably-priced Blue Elephant Thai restaurant housed within. We were charmed by the decor of the place, as well as the waterfall and koi fish. The service was excellent, as was our food–a vegetarian delight, I tell you! Of course, we did splurge on the 5-course meal, but considering the occasion and our burning desire for tasty Thai, it was well worth it. When we were leaving, the hostess stopped us and we were given a fresh orchid to take home. Sweet.
Now, say what you like about the Dubai Mall being the embodiment of modern consumerism (and use that tone of superiority if you must, go ahead), criticize it if you like for being just a bit phony (I mean, what about that psuedo-souk?) or over the top (’cause, yeah, it is), we like it. So we went there. As we strode about the densely-packed Mall, which is basically shopper heaven, bustling with people of all shapes and sizes, tastefully dressed and not, abayas and short (for here, yeah, yeah, I know) skirts side-by-side, we noticed flyers for an afternoon event: Freestyle Moto X. Motocross in Burj Park? Heck, yeah. So we strolled a bit more, through the throngs and outdoors, below the Burj Khalifa, to find ourselves a place to watch the motorcycle action. My wife was not particularly thrilled with the idea of watching some motorcycle riders, but the first time one of the riders went soaring off the large jump they had set up, she got mighty interested. In fact, she was aghast at the stunts that the Australian team of riders pulled off. I myself was in awe of the feats of bravado and daring that I witnessed. We both snapped photos like crazy.
If you believe Emaar’s (that’d be the company that owns and evidently operates the whole development area) hype, then Downtown Dubai is smack-dab “in the center of now,” and I have to admit, it does feel pretty hip. Is it a bit artificial? Yeah, maybe. But it’s also cool. And that seems to describe the city as a whole. There’s always something interesting happening, and it’s pretty fun to blunder into nifty stuff. The city in general is just oozing coolness. There’s coolness dripping from the futuristic Metro stations, from the spire of the Burj Khalifa and into the over-hyped fountains below, from the overpasses of the unnecessarily confusing highways, and from the neon lights which are spread about accenting the, uh, coolness of the place. You get the idea. Dubai is cool, especially this time of year, when you can go outside and enjoy walking around, instead of dissolving into a big nasty pile of sweat.
One last chestnut: here’s a video I shot with my trusty iPhone whilst we were taking in the motocross action. Enjoy:)