Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dubai's jewels glitter in glory

If you try to look it up in the map, Dubai, one of the federal emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is just a speck on the small desert kingdom developed and once held under the protectorate of Great Britain. Once known as a tiny enclave, whose economic survival depended much on fishing and pearl diving, the City of Dubai now beckons as one of the most ambitious places in the world, with its skylines dotting with mega-modern high rises that serve as visible epitome' of a backward emirate slowly metamorphosed into a veritable hub for international tourism.

And one of the futuristic architectural influences that attracts visitors to discover for themselves what Dubai is all about is its exotic-looking Burj Al Arab hotel, which glistens as dusk comes to feed the hungry souls. Not only that, this desert city is slowly gaining the envy of other Middle Eastern cities in so far as comfort and conveniences are concerned.

But why come to Dubai in the first place? Well, the answers are the existence of its myriad malls, which can readily offer bargain hunters a good run for their money on purchases of tax-free items like gold, appliances and signature stuffs such as bags and clothings. These are just one of the best appeals that Dubai could offer to its countless of visitors waiting to discover more about the secrets of the desert city, only 75 miles from the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.

I happened to drop by at this fast bustling city in 1989 on my way home for a short vacation, while I was working in Abu Dhabi's royal palace. Therefore, my brief visit to Dubai then wasn't much of fun and didn't have much time to stroll around all over the city owing to lack of time. However, I had a good glimpse of what was going on then as we passed Jebel Ali, Dubai's modern port facility where big international ships were docked to unload various goods from all over the world.

From what I read now, so much have changed since that time. But what I can say about Dubai is that its being too complicated to understand, but easy to get along with. Its liberal-type of culture accorded to workers and visitors is something that is not common to all the other emirates, where traditional conservatism still reins as the moral guidance of the population. Buying alcoholic beverages in stores is only accorded to those with liquor license issued by the local police.

However, drinking is only allowed in five-star hotels which are allowed to serve beer and other alcoholic beverages. More than anything else, Dubai is an open city whose conservative heart pulsates to the rhythms of modernity, unrivaled in its present grandeur.

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