After a catch up on sleep we took the hotel’s courtesy bus to the Deira City Mall. We’d only seen a small amount of Dubai on the drive in from the airport and out to the shopping mall but the buildings everywhere were amazing. Very tall, glass and glitz and the architecture is stunning. Much, much more was to be revealed! I actually enjoyed this mall the most as I found it more down to earth and it had a wider range of everyday shops instead of mostly designer ones found elsewhere. There was a number of quite good “Arab artifacts & textiles” shops on the second level at the end where you exit to catch shuttle buses. Good to get that souvenir or cheesy gift if you are in a hurry. It also seemed like a lot of the locals shopped here, spent a few hours shopping and people watching before heading home. What a mix of people, it was really quite strange to see all these people walking around in Arab dress (I know, I know I need to get out more!) I thought the strangest thing was that the women are nearly always with men (if they aren't in groups by themselves) who are dressed in jeans, cap and ts. In fact that wasn't the strangest, it was when you saw some of the women carrying their McD’s or KFCs in the food hall. A clash of cultures if ever I saw one! I was wondering how their toddlers knew which was their mum cause they all look the same!
For the next two days we had a boating conference to attend from 9am-2pm then onto the Boat Show from 3pm -9:30pm. This ran for four days. On the off days we visited a number of marinas and boat building yards, were treated to a lovely lunch at a Indian restaurant (name escapes me) on the waterfront at the Marina and had a good look around places that visitors normally wouldn't see, industrial sites etc- yes it was interesting, especially seeing the working conditions most of the workers have to endure.
The conference was held at Le Meriden next to the boat show and hosted by Nakheel, the property developer(read Arab Prince), check out their website for an amazing number of developments they have underway. For lunch we were taken out on the hotel's cruise boat for a fabulous meal and a trip to Nakheel’s Palm project, get an update and to see the reclamation of the World. I have my own opinion of the various reclamation projects, but all I can say is that they are very ambitious and obviously someone had a vision that looks great on paper. Also got to see the other side of the Burj from out at sea although there was a sand storm that day and it was quite hazy.
We went everywhere by taxi and this was an experience and a story in itself. The taxi drivers and the traffic were manic. When it's not jammed it's every man for himself, the speed limit I think is 80-100km on the main roads thru the city but in reality everyone does 120-140km, this is while weaving in and out of the traffic as well. The first morning our 2 taxis raced each other as they would not let either one get in front, this went on the whole way to the show about 10kms. The second morning our taxi was doing 160kms along the freeway and still cars were passing us. Mad, mad drivers. They kept saying no need for seat belts- yeah right!. Rescue vehicles (and we saw many) were often driving down the median strip over all the plants to get anywhere. One of our taxis took us the "long" way home to escape the jams- way out into the desert, another time we headed off in the total opposite direction for 20 minutes before bumping our way thru a construction site to rejoin the queue heading back to town. And we still got home 30 minutes later than the other's taxi. In the jams are dozens of worker's buses filled to overflowing with hundreds of workers coming off shift, they are packed in like sardines and it's quite intimidating standing on the road verge with them all staring at you. Outside the boat show every night there was a huge bottleneck- we had a few laughs as everyone tried to feed into a couple of lanes at the same time-there were Arabs shouting and jumping up and down, arms waving. People tooting and screaming at each other. 2 buses side swiped each other right where we were standing and neither would budge or giveway, they were locked together inching forward. Both side mirrors were wiped off. And once you got through the jam it was every man for himself, foot flat to the floor, no prisoners taken.
Well that #2 done and no shorter, I did try! Oh well, never mind as long as you are reading it. #3 coming your way soon. :)