Dubai Lifestyle – Has it boomed out?

 Dubai_010 by MeetaK Diving sculpture – one of many sculptures made of fiberglass to create a dynamic visual spectrum that complements the rhythmic flow of water. The impressive Waterfall at the Dubai Mall runs through the entire height of the mall and is adorned with these sculptures of human divers.

Every time I return from Dubai I need a few days to process my experience there. My parents have been living there for a little under 20 years now so I've been going back on a regular basis. Even before that, while we were living in Qatar we'd often fly over to Dubai with our school for various sporting events. I've literally seen Dubai rise from the dust like a bright shiny phoenix.

Putting morals and my thoughts on carbon footprints aside, I am always flabbergasted at what incredible visions have been realized in the city. The city began developing in the 90s at such a furious speed it was mind boggling every time I went back at what had been achieved. A new superlative was literally stumped out of the ground each month! As the bubble around Dubai grew and the media pushed the hype on Dubai further, I often wondered when that bubble would burst. No one believed it would - but it did!

Dubai was hit badly by the financial crisis and things began tumbling down like a house of cards. Property prices in Dubai collapsed by nearly half in the past year, which was the result of easy credit and overbuilding during the big real estate boom. It was the oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi who rode to the rescue and pumped billions of dollars into Dubai last year as it struggled to pay enormous debts.

For the first time I was going back to Dubai after a long gap of close to 2 years. I wondered what would await me. Had the once booming city of Dubai really boomed out?

Dubai_0021 by MeetaK

  Burj Khalifa: What was initially known as the Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) was renamed after the ruler of the richer neighbor Abu Dhabi pumped several billions of dollars to save Dubai from the crisis. At 825m it is the worlds tallest building.

Dubai_0016 by MeetaKBurj Al Arab: has become the international landmark of Dubai. It is the world’s tallest hotel and the world’s only 7 star hotel

I was pleasantly surprised. While it is obvious things in Dubai have slowed down and, for one who has often been to Dubai and experienced the turbulent rise, there was an eerie lull, nonetheless I experienced Dubai very differently this time. One would not really have been able to tell that Dubai was suffering a crisis by looking at the Dubai lifestyle people were living.

Collage2 by MeetaKBetween high heels, Arabian Coffee and fresh flowers Dubai offers everything

Dubai_0085 by MeetaKThe Creek Club on the Creek

Bars, restaurants, cafés - and there are many in Dubai - were pleasantly full of vibrant and vivacious people enjoying a snack or a drink. Shopping malls - yes several of them in Dubai - were packed with people carrying bags containing designer labels and hotels - once again hundreds in Dubai - were alive with tourists. Dubai was, at least the illusion, alive and kicking. After the serenity of smallville Weimar, for me Dubai happened like a breath of fresh air.

While I love the quaintness and calmness of Weimar, I am a city girl at heart and it was easy for me to get caught up in the boisterous lifestyle. My parents live in the fashionable and upcoming area of Jumeirah Lake Towers - very much slap bang in the middle of newer Dubai. From their apartment we had lovely views of the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina. The ocean is a stone's throw away and the air every morning was fresh and salty.

Dubai_0026 by MeetaKView from my parents apartment towards the Burj Al Arab

Dubai_0019 by MeetaKView from my parents apartment across the Dubai Marina

Dubai_0020 by MeetaKDubai Marina Harbor – view from parents apartmentCollage1 by MeetaK

It is the perfect time of year to visit Dubai with temperatures between 22 - 26 degrees C you can very much enjoy Dubai in all it's green glory. Yes - green! Painstaking efforts have been made to plant grass greener than anything I have seen in Germany, colorful flowers and a multitude of palm trees. Street side and beach side cafés were bubbling over with lively chatter and it was often difficult getting tables outside.

Dubai_0011 by MeetaKRelaxing at the pool of the Madinat Jumeirah

Dubai_0058 by MeetaKMadinat Jumeirah: one of many courtyards

Dubai_0056 by MeetaKCoffee culture – macarons and latte at Paul’s located at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach

Dubai_0014 by MeetaKAbra at the Madinat Jumeirah

Soeren probably enjoyed the swimming pool the best, which is located on the 37th floor of their apartment building, offering exceptional views of the Jumeirah skyline.

Dubai_0033 by MeetaKOut on the horizon – Soeren at the beach

Almost every time we are in Dubai, I must make a trip to the older parts of Dubai - the "real" Dubai, if you'll have it. The area around the creek is still the part of Dubai I love spending time in. Those are where the souks are - the gold souk, spice souk, electronic souk, textile souk, where colorful wares are displayed in small aging shops and where I really feel the aura of history. Because let's be honest Dubai does not have a very old history. We spent an afternoon mingling amongst the tourists and bargaining with the peddlers at the spice souk. But a word of advice - what used to be cheap is now a tourist trap so if you are not too good at bargaining (like my mother who is the true Queen of Bargaining) you're better off going to one of the supermarkets for your spices.

Dubai_001 by MeetaK Colorful spices at the Spice Souk

Dubai_003 by MeetaK Hot chilies at the Spice Souk

Food in Dubai is plentiful. Whatever you are craving for you will certainly find it here. Famous chefs and restaurants have all set up their outlets and branches in Dubai, often in several areas dotted across the city. You can indulge in South Indian idlis, Lebanese mezze, Japanese teppanyaki and French Macarons all in one day! And I did - which probably was the reason my tummy rebelled on me a day after I got there causing me to spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom. For a gourmet Dubai is exciting, for a gourmande dangerous but paradise!

 Dubai_0061 by MeetaKThe big bite – Burger at Paul’s at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach

 Dubai_0084 by MeetaKTeppanyaki at Tokyo in the Emirate Towers

Dubai_0082 by MeetaKSushi at Tokyo in the Emirate Towers

 Dubai_0046 by MeetaKMacaron variety from Paul

The two weeks flew past us as we spent our days, relaxing with friends at the beach or the pool, shopping, sight-seeing, visiting friends, eating out or just relaxing at home with my family. Family time was important and Soeren got to spend a lot of it with my brother going to the movies or just hanging out - like boys do!

Dubai_0047 by MeetaKColorful “hubbly bubbly” pipes

Collage3 by MeetaK

I loved meeting up with friends - I had the pleasure of getting to know Komal a fellow blogger over a few cocktails, cherished meeting TA, my old school friend and catching up over Starbucks coffee and spending time with my Weimar girlfriend BS and her family, at the beach.

DSC_0008-1-700px Komal and me at Paul’s after enjoying a few cocktails at The Walk on Jumeirah Beach

Dubai_0045 by MeetaKMacaron variety from Paul

Earlier, when asked how many days one needs for a vacation in Dubai, I would say 3-4 would suffice. Now however, one would certainly need a week or 10 days to enjoy everything Dubai offers.

I've taken you away to Dubai a couple of times before. In 2007 when I showed you how Dubai was booming, then in 2008 we went behind the scenes of a pastry kitchen and I hope you enjoyed the trip this time round too.

H2Ope for Haiti
Before I send you off on your weekends with my best wishes I'd like to take the opportunity to inform you about a charity event for Haiti. H2Ope for Haiti is being organized by my absolute dear friend Jeanne of Cook Sister. From Sunday, February 21 - Sunday, February 28th, BA-CFF will be running H2Ope for Haiti, an online raffle to raise funds for Concern Worldwide's relief effort in Haiti.  For full details and how you can help please visit BA-CFF as well as the H2Ope for Haiti JustGiving donation page.  Justgiving will pay all the money raised directly to Concern Worldwide, less their processing fee, and donations can be made via international debit or credit cards as well as Paypal.  Once the raffle goes live on 21 February, a list of prizes will be available on my site and the BA-CFF site and you can start buying tickets (£6.50 or $10 each)!  The prizes will have international appeal and the generous donors will ship anywhere - or if you like you can just make a donation without buying a raffle ticket.

We need all the promotion we can get, so if you have a blog or Facebook/Twitter account it would be wonderful if you could mention this event to your readers on Sunday.  If you would like to donate a prize, please contact Jeanne at emailcooksister AT googlemail DOT com.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. Thanks for sharing! What beautiful sunny pictures. Aaaaahhh, I'm jealous ;-P... A great experience!



  2. beautiful travelogue... Love the photo of the spices! :))

  3. lovely travelogue..and soeren is such a cute kid!

  4. Great post Meeta - I feel like I've learned so much about Dubai. Loving the photos. And I'm so jealous of all that blue - skies, pool, sea! xxx

  5. Beautifully captured Meeta! Dubai is one place I've never been certainly have made it very enticing!

  6. I enjoyed the trip Meeta! Thanks for sharing with us! i was in Dubai for 12 hours when i flew back to US from India, about 6 years ago... Your post reminded me of my 5 our tour of Dubai that I took during the transit....

  7. What a treasure trove of photos and memories. Thank you for this amazing tour! I've loved every bit of it. :-)

  8. I love, Love, LOVE your pictures from Dubai. I was brought up there and Miss it so.. I was taken aback with all the change when I visited in '09 after approx. 8 years. I felt I was truly back home when I stepped into Madinat Jumeirah. I miss that architecture and the "InshaAllah" lifestyle. Thank you. :o)

  9. That's certainly an incredible place to visit, I had never considered going there before but I think I have the feel for it now. And I LOVE shopping so I know I'd like it!!

  10. what a post, as mowie said above, i feel like i just learned a whole lot about dubai. amazing - fabulous to see these photos and follow you on those adventures, and especially to see that adorable soeren !

    if i ever get to dubai, you'll definitely find me in the souks - admiring the colors and arrangement of the spices - and dried fruits perhaps ? love that kind of stuff. or ok, perhaps you'll find me with a few of those macarons as well. or right beside soeren staring at the cupcakes get their icing at magnolia bakery ! :)

    thanks for sharing !! now off i go to see that behind-the-scenes in the pastry kitchen, how did i miss that....

  11. We moved out of Dubai 4 years ago; friends there warn me that I will not recognise the city whenever I go back! Thanks for the virtual tour, I have some hope of recognising it. Dubai sure is a foodie's haven and I still maintain that the best chocolate cake is the one you get at Coco's in Dubai.

  12. Fabulous pictures! I am glad that I was able to visit Dubai from your eyes. I am also interested in knowing more about the food in Dubai...maybe the next post?!

  13. love love dubai..and u have caught all its essence in its full dreaming of macaroon from Pauls now :-) lovely write up Meeta.

  14. nicely written, lovely pics... dubai is on my list of 50 places to see before i am 50!!

  15. Hi Meeta,

    First time on your blog. And this post on dubai brought back so many memories. We were in Dubai in the late 80s before moving to US.
    I would really like to go and visit dubai along with my husband and kids.
    If I have to stay there for 2 weeks which I would like to hotels are going to be an expensive option.
    Are there any fully furnished apartments which we can rent for a month or so and live to our heart's content? And if so what would be the rent?

    And with Germany.. is there any such option? Ofcourse Germany is huge so which place would be better to visit if we were coming there for the first time?

  16. Wow! Lovely pics meeta, your shots are spotless. I am so accustomed to the thought that the person whom i know barely by name takes beautiful pics, in your pics its a proud feeling to realise...oh meeta's pics :) your visual treats satisfies all kinds of taste palettes :)

  17. Thank you so much for the tour of Dubai -- and especially the photos of the spice market, which you know appeals to me! The view from your parents' apartment is breathtaking.

  18. I loved seeing Dubai via your photos.Thank you for sharing them. How wonderful to have family there and be able to enjoy it as a local.

  19. Lovely pictures of a vibrant place.Would love to visit it someday.

  20. Ah I see now. I saw your picture in tiny on my iPhone which is why I thought it was a real diver and couldn't see that it was a sculpture.
    How fun! and warm ;) and so much light, which would be so nice to have. Am totally jealous of the spice souk, it would be great to go there with A. He can barter like nobody's business.

  21. so when I'm planning our trip in 2011, I know who/where to come for tips! Lovely. blue-skied photos....making me wish my vacation was next week...and not in 3!

  22. 22-26C?! Much better than the heat stroke I'm suffering here! (Just kidding - I know it could be worse.) Thanks for the virtual tour, I just love travel posts. I guess slowing down even a little bit is good for a place that is booming too quickly :)

  23. Meeta, truly appreciate this post on Dubai from you...the pics are splendid! Thks for sharing the tips too..spice souk is just something that cant b missed! Happy week to you!

  24. Very well written and the pics are amazing. I am also like u who spent a little less than 20 years in Abu dhabi, and now got uprooted to england with my hubby!My parents are still there, so keep going there once in a very while...will be there in april as well..:)...The pictures took me back to my memory university days where i travel all the way from AUH to Ajman....Just miss those days!!!!Thank u for this lovely post.



  25. We'd planned a trip this Jan-Feb, but it fizzled out!

    Loved your photos as always!

  26. I was born, and lived in Abu Dhabi. So went to Dubai a LOT! It has changes soo much! I left there 13-14 years ago! Makes me want to go again :) Thanks for the post!

  27. You breathed new life into Dubai for moi Meeta! WOW ... it's gorgeous... but then dahling, so are you! How sweet the litle fellow is! Yay Soeren ...
    I want to know what he thinks when he sees the beach picture on your blog 3 years from now Meeta! LOL ... welcome back! Is this the new lens?

  28. Thanks for the interesting post! I have a relative in Dubai and another one who left it and came to Beirut. I am not into a city of modern buildings and such but it sure looks very clean and comfortable!
    I think I would prefer Istanbul though.

  29. We have been thinking of traveling to Dubai for a long time now. Your pictures are very tempting. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Lovely post Meeta. I only have one question: do your parents need a permanent lodger??!!


    Seriously though, I am thrilled to hear you say that you lov ehte old town round the creek. It's the part of Dubai that came as the biggest surprise to me and the part I loved most. My travel companion was busy with intervieews for most of our visit and I was left to my own devices - over and over I returned to the spice souk and to walk along the Creek takign photos of the men pushing trolleys of goods back and forth between the wareouses and the souk. It seemed worlds removed from the Burj al Arab & all the "big city, bright lights" elements of the city. Fabulous.

  31. Thanks for sharing great post and pictures!


  32. hi meeta, really enjoyed raeding more abt this city, it feels very much like hong kong where i live now, same flow going on. Great pics of the spice, dry rose buds make a great tonic tea for ladies and a luxurious salty home-footsoak. enjoyed the pictures a lot! radha

  33. lovely pics Meeta. I didn't enjoy Dubai as much when I was visiting because it was so so hot. I went in June, a bad time to visit, but then I was in transit so didn't complain :D

  34. The pictures are awesome and so clear. Even the long shots have come out so clear. What camera have these been taken from?

  35. Beautiful photographs..I also visited Dubai with family for the first time in January 2010 -only for 4 days...even in that short period saw quite a few 'man-made wonders' that needed some 600 snaps and around 150 video clips to capture..if interested, please visit my public picasa album : and my you tube :
    I am sure you will see more of Dubai and hopefully like it


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