I can't say I do not slightly enjoy the impressive and envious looks from friends when I tell them I am going to be visiting my parents in Dubai for a few weeks. In all honesty I am a modest person - but there is a certain thing that fills me with pride when I see their expressions.
What I can almost always expect is the one I question I am always asked.
"Is Dubai beautiful?"
No - not really!
At least not at first sight. Dubai is a fast paced, booming city, where the time it takes you to bat an eye lash, a new superlative has been crossed and literally stumped out of the sand. The world's tallest building - in Dubai, the world's largest man-made islands - in Dubai, the
world's tallest hotel - in Dubai, the world's largest mall, you can even buy a piece of the World in Dubai.
Dubai resembles one huge building site, where one stumbles from one site to another. Traffic jams, dusty and chaotic. These would be the words that describe Dubai on first impression.
A fairly young country, the modern emirate of Dubai was created with the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. So, there is very little one can find in history books about the region. I remember when I lived in the region, Dubai was a dormant city. Looking back now I can't help to compare it to a sleeping giant, that has awoken to take on the world by storm.
People seem to think that Dubai is all glitter. The image everyone has of Dubai is of ultra-modern skyscrapers, opulent interior decoration, luxury, five-star treatment everywhere.
Well it does of course but there is more than just that.
One has to look a little deeper to find the charm Dubai offers. It is a city full of contradictions and opposites. A place where you can ski on snow topped slopes in the morning and spend the afternoon basking in the warm sun. Stroll through charming old souks one afternoon and the next, shop at high class shopping malls. Spend a weekend on a desert safari or take in the beauty on a beautiful mountain oasis. Where old windtowers stand tall against a skyline of skyscrapers, old wooden fisher Dhows sway gently in the harbor next to expensive yachts. Where old conservative Arabic culture meets the modern Western world. Nowhere else will you see a Muslim lady covered from head to toe in her black Abaya standing next to a European lady dressed in a mini skirt.
I look at Dubai with other eyes too. Dubai and the Persian Gulf region is a part of my own childhood. A place where I grew up and spent some of the happiest times in my life. A place I always am sentimental about because that's where my parents are. It's a place I long to be in when I am far from it and when I am there look vainly for peaceful moments that I have found here. I love the beaches, sun and sand, but miss the seasons here. I enjoy the hustle and bustle but yearn for the serenity. Even in me Dubai creates a turmoil of contradicting feelings.
When in Dubai I simply enjoy spending relaxing days with my parents, going for walks on the lagoon just outside their apartment building, spending the day with Soeren at the hotel pool or beach where my dad works and of course eating all of the food I miss here!
It's never really a tourist holiday for us in Dubai but I have to admit even I am always left speechless at the incredible projects being created there. However, my favorite places are the "older" parts of Dubai. The old spice markets or a walk along the Creek, in my eyes is where the true charm of the city is portrayed with an inner beauty one does not expect in such a city.
There is a lot of glamor and glitter on first sight, in Dubai, and even though some will leave your head shaking and some will leave you in awe. Looking deeper and beyond all that you will find it - the real beauty - hidden in a beautiful misty morning, or a full moon over a twinkling city, or the colorful flowers at the Hindu temple or simply the glitter of thousands of colorful bangles.
Just a few of the things I love Dubai for.
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