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Dubai - what an excellent place.
I was going to skip it, but since I was flying through there anyway on my way to Madrid, it made sense to stop in and crash for a few days with my friend Steven from way back. On this leg of the journey, I realized two things in regards to air travel:
1) that Emirates Airlines is probably the best airline I have ever flown because of their in-flight service, their commitment to making you comfortable, and their insisting on a timely departure and arrival, and all of their planes are brand new, and,
2) that Dubai is probably the most well organized airport I’ve ever been to. The flow from how you get to the airport, arrive, check in, screen, and to the gate leaves little confusion to be had, and it is all very sequential and well labeled - for example, the only place to go after you check in is the security, and then to the monorail to get to your gate. There are many other airport that have the same sequence, but what I think is best here is they make you do all of the BS stuff first to get you in the right place, AND THEN they hit you with the horrible airport shops and duty free. It just seems cleaner.
Dubai is a city of seemingly infinite possibilities. Everything is brand new, and it is clear from the amount of construction that there is going on, that still a lot will happen in the next few years. The only thing is that it makes me wonder how long something that is a completely new economy can last in the current situation. I don’t really know much about it, but from what I’m told, no more than 40 years ago, the entire place was filled with sand, horses, and sky-gazers, not skyscrapers. Currently, it is a playground for those who dig high fashion, the latest muscle cars, both American and high-end European, and private yachts in marinas where the restaurants have $15 drinks. Again, this is just an observation, but it would be interesting to look at the balance sheets of the country, both in terms as their entire GNP, and then in terms of the per capita GDP of the individuals who live there as permanent residents, and those that are strictly immigrant workers. I’ll get on that.
Another point to stand out is although there is clearly an economy filled with opulence and overconsumption, there is also a very large portion of the working population that is immigrants. Many people from all over Asia flock there, most notably from the Philippines, India, and other Southeast Asian countries, as well those from the west- their west- ironically enough from Spain, England, Greece, and other Eastern European countries. One thing that really caught my attention while strolling around the Dubai Mall is that it seems as though the people who are from there go to the mall and socialize during the day because its too hot to not.
Another thing about the city is that it is possible once you leave your house in the morning, to never have to walk outside again. I have heard rumors that in places like Minneapolis it is possible to do everything in tunnels- and it also reminded me of the concourse under Rockefeller Center in Manhattan- if you don’t want to go outside, you don’t have to, except in Dubai they have it specifically to avoid the sun or tremendous desert heat. HVAC seems like it is huge industry, and ironically enough when I was at the Burj Khalifa looking down, a bit towards the south of the building when you look out from ~600 meters, you can see an entire structure maybe a football field away that is nothing but coolers- this building is big enough to fill a Manhattan block, and it is nothing but HVAC units.
There were a couple of late nights, and I had a great time, but they weren’t really comparable to NYC or Spain. Overall I think the diversity that a place like Dubai demands is great because it essentially has morphed itself over the past few decades into a New York-style city where everybody comes to make it. All in all, I wasn’t really too keen on going to Dubai, but I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. It may be worth another look at some point down the line.