Dubai, UAE – Day 3 of 3

Today was my final day in Dubai, and again I had to wake up fairly early to ensure I was able to see everything that I wanted to see. I woke up at 7:30am, got ready, and took the metro to the Mall of the Emirates to have Tim Hortons for breakfast, since it was on the way to my first stop at Legoland. They have more unique breakfast options than we do at home. I had a chicken and cheese English muffin, alongside a large coffee. The coffee here tastes way better than the Tim Hortons coffee back home.

I hopped back on the metro until the end of the line, where I transferred to an express bus to take me to Legoland. All in all, the trip from my hotel to Legoland took nearly 2.25 hours, including my 25 minute stop at the mall for breakfast. While this took a while, it sure did beat a $100 cab ride each way.

Legoland Dubai opened in October 2016, and is the eighth in the world. I have been to the one in California, and I believe the one in Florida as well, and those ones were substantially better than this one. The park features a few rollercoasters, 40 attractions, and utilizes over 20 million lego bricks to create 15000 miniature models of different landmarks and structures from around the world. I was mainly interested in the Miniatureland section, more so than the rides.

After exploring Legoland I took the bus and metro to the Al Fahidi Historical District, almost back where my hotel was. Al Fahidi is a historical neighbourhood that is well preserved so you can experience what Dubai would have been like in the late 1800’s. Construction of the neighbourhood was started in the 1890’s, and features about 60 housing units. It was built primarily for Persian Merchants who were drawn to Dubai by trade opportunities and the incentives offered by the Emerati government. In the 1980’s about half of the historic neighbourhood was knocked down to make way for the development of a new office complex. The rest of the area was slated for demolition by the city in 1989, however British architect Rayner Otter worked with the city to stop the planned demolition. In 2005 a project was initiated by the city to restore the old neighbourhood. Located within the neighbourhood is Al Fahidi Fort, which was built in the late 18th Century as a defensive structure along the city boundary. The fort was expanded between the 1830’s and 1850’s.

From the Al Fahidi district I could see my next stop across the water; the Dubai Spice Souk. Dubai’s Spice Souk, also known as the Old Souk, is a traditional spice market located in Deira (East Dubai). The souk is comprised of very narrow lanes which are lined with tiny stores that sell spices. It’s a colourful and aromatic sensory overload. It’s also a bit overwhelming being harassed by dozens of vendors to buy their stuff. I had my headphones on for this part, because I knew it would get annoying. Too busy for my liking, but a must see.

The final stop for my day was the Burj Kalifa and Dubai Fountain. The Burj Khalifa is a neo-futuristic skyscraper that was built between 2004 and 2009. It holds the record for being the tallest skyscraper in the world since it was finished in 2009, standing at 830 metres (2722 feet) tall. The building, named after the former president of the United Arab Emirates, was designed by architect Adrian Smith who works for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the same firm that designed the Sears Tower in Chicago. The building has a staggering 57 elevators and 8 escalators! Each elevator (some are double decker cabins) has a capacity of 14 people per cabin and can ascent at 10 metres per second! Some additional fun facts about the building are that the building uses nearly 1 million litres (250000 gallons) of water per day, the building has 347 km (215 miles) of pipes, and the cooling system that uses 46 MW of power!

After visiting the Burj Khalifa I had some ramen for dinner, while waiting for the 6:00pm show at the Dubai Fountain. The Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain system located in the artificial Burj Khalifa lake below the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. It was designed by WET Design, which has created some of the world’s most famous fountains including the waterfall I saw yesterday at Expo 2020, The Rain Vortex in Singapore, Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, 1988 Lisbon Expo Fountains, Fountain of Nations at EPCOT in Florida, etc. WET (Water Entertainment Technologies) was founded by Mark Fuller, Melanie Simon and Alan Robinson in 1983. All three worked as Imagineers at Disney. Their original creation was the Leapfrog foundation at EPCOT. The Dubai Fountain features 6600 lights, 50 coloured projectors, and many jets that arranged into five circles, and two long arcs. The fountain can spray 83000 litres (22000 gallons) of water into the air at any moment, and the tallest jet can reach 152 metres (500 feet) in the air! You can watch the show on my YouTube page here.

After watching the three minute show at the fountain I took the metro back to my hotel, to blog for the remainder of the evening, before going to bed early, as I had an early morning flight to Yerevan, Armenia the next day.

Dubai, UAE – Day 2 of 3

Today I woke up at 7:30am because I knew I would have a lot of ground to cover. Dubai is a very spread out city, and it takes quite a while to get places. I got ready for my day and hailed a cab to take me to my first spot, Al Mahatta Museum. On the ride over the cab driver warned me that it would take 1-1.5 hours to return, despite the drive there only taking 15 minutes. The Al Mahatta Museum is an aviation museum located at the first airport in the United Arab Emirates. The airport was built in 1932 as a staging post for commercial flight routes from Britain to India. It features rare planes such as the de Havilland Comet and Vickers VC-10. Sadly, I couldn’t enter the museum due to flooding that occurred two days before, when they had a fairly significant rainstorm. I snapped a photo of the exterior.

Well… the cab driver wasn’t kidding about the return time taking a while. It took me over an hour to get a ride to the nearest metro station, just 6 kilometres away! I took the metro to the Museum of the Future, which was my next stop. The museum wasn’t open by the time I arrived, and I had yet to have dinner, so I sourced out a nice place to have breakfast called Flow. There I had a truffled steak sandwich, and a fancy Chemex coffee. I miss my Chemex maker, which I unfortunately broke a few months ago. I had a smaller one that I had I gave to my friend Arthur a couple years back.

The Museum of the Future is an exhibition space for innovative and futuristic ideologies, services and products. It is located in the Financial District, which isn’t too far from the Burj Khalifa. It was founded by the Dubai Future Foundation, and opened recently in February 2022. It was one of the more unique museums that I’ve visited, and I overall enjoyed my experience there. Plenty of special effects were used. I can buy into some of the futuristic ideologies, however most of them seem to be a far reach for the general status quo. I didn’t take too many photos inside, however I did take plenty of video. I’ll post something about that later, when I’ve compiled them together.

I was starting to get hungry so I purchased a donair for lunch from a mall located on Palm Jumeriah. The Palm Jumeriah is an artificial archipelago in the shape of a palm tree, and was created between 2001 and 2006. The luxury hotel was opened in September 2008. After lunch I went to the top of a tower to take pictures of the Palm from up top. What a unique creation! From the top you can also see Atlantis The Palm, Atlantis The Royal Dubai, and Cayan Tower.

Cayan Tower, also known as the Infinity Tower, is a 306 metre (1004 foot) tall skyscraper owned by Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development. It was built between August 2006 and June 2013. The building features a unique twisting design around a cylindrical elevator core, which features 7 elevators. Each of the 75 floors rotates 1.2 degrees between floors. The building, one of the tallest in the world, was designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

Atlantis The Royal Dubai isn’t quite open yet, but will be in a few months. It will feature 795 luxirous rooms, 17 restaurants, and the worlds largest jellyfish aquarium. The hotel is comprised of six seperate buildings that give the appearance of being stacked like legoblocks due to the use of multiple skybridges. The building is a modern twist on the The Bank of Georgia Headquarters Building that I saw in Tbilisi, Georgia. You can check that out on my blog post here.

Atlantis The Palm is a luxury hotel featuring 1500+ rooms on the apex of the Palm Jumeriah. After soaking in the views up top I took the monorail to see the hotel up close.

My feet were starting to hurt at this point in time, since I had already clocked in 25000 steps already. I took the monorail back to the metro, and then took the metro to the beach located near the Dubai Eye to relax for a few hours soaking in the sun.

Ain Dubai, previously known as Dubai Eye, is the world’s tallest and largest Ferris Wheel. It stands 250 metres (820 feet) tall and was constructed between 2015 and 2021. The wheel can carry 1750 passengers in 48 cabins and provides breathtaking views of the Dubai Marina and various Dubai landmarks. It’s not currently operational, but is set to open soon, although it looks fairly rusty and weathered already.

After relaxing at the beach I took the metro, and a bus to a restaurant called Asia Asia, where I met my friend Karen, who I met through my friend Krystylyn in 2016. Karen was running a bit late from work, so I snapped a few photos of the Burj Kalifa while I waited. Karen is a nurse living in Dubai, and has spent most of her career in Saudi Arabi and Dubai. It was nice catching up with her.

After dinner I took the metro and a bus to get a pin from the Hardrock Café, before heading back to my hotel. I had to take a cab back to my hotel because the bus was packed, and another one wasn’t coming for 55 minutes, and I was exhausted and ready for bed.

Dubai, UAE – Day 1 of 3

Today I had to wake up at around 7:00am to catch a 10:00am flight to Dubai. I had booked a hired driver the night before to take me to the airport, since the cost was only $20. I had a quick breakfast before being driven to the airport. The airport is very beautiful, new, and spacious. After clearing security I relaxed until it was time to board my flight.

After landing in Dubai I quickly cleared customs, where they presented me with a free 1GB 5G sim card, which I ended up not using, but that’s a very nice gesture for tourists. I took the Dubai Metro to check-in to my hotel; The City Avenue Hotel. Check-in took a significant amount of time (nearly 1 hour) because they had a bunch of people checking in at the same time, and the staff were also fairly slow.

After checking into my hotel I took the bus to my first stop of the day, which was Deira Clocktower. The Deira Clocktower sits in the middle of a roundabout in Eastern Dubai at the intersection of Umm Hurair Road and Al Maktoum Road (Route D 89). It was designed by Otto Bullard and Ziki Homsi, and built in 1965. It is considered to be among the top 20 most beautiful clock towers in the world.

I then had to sit around and wait for the bus to take me to The Dubai Frame. While Dubai has a very good metro network, that can’t be said about their buses. They’re actually worse than Calgary’s buses, which is saying something. Sometimes you have to wait for 45 minutes!

The Dubai Frame is a combination observatory, museum, and monument in Zabeel Park. It stands 150 metres tall, and is 95.5 metres wide. The building overlooks Old Dubai in the North, and the newer modern Dubai in the south, and was conceived by Fernando Donis, although theres a fair amount of controversy, which you can read about online. The project was completed by Hyder Consulting (Arcais NV), and opened in 2018. The views from the top were so-so due to the amount of smog, but I imagine on a clear day it’s pretty incredible. I noticed that during my entire three days here that the city seems to be trapped under a cloud of smog the majority of the time.

I was starting to get fairly hungry, so why not head to the Mall of the Emirates to check it out, as well as get some food there. I wanted to have some Western food so I settled on Black Tap Craft Burgers, where I had a Cuban burger, and a house salad. The Mall of the Emirates was opened in 2005 and features over 630 stores, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants, and an indoor ski hill!

The sun was starting to set, so it was a perfect time to go check out Expo 2020. I took the metro, and was able to watch the sunset the entire trip there. What a special treat! Expo City Dubai is the site where Dubai hosted the 2020 World Expo from October 2021 to March 2022. It was delayed from 2020 due to Covid-19. I’m pretty sad that I didn’t get to go see the expo, and decided that I’d like to go see the next one, which will be hosted in Osaka, Japan in 2025. Over 24 million people visited Expo 2020 during the six months. The site is now part of a 3 million square meter green development called District 2020. Dubai is designating it a “15 minute city”, where everything is accessible within a 15 minute walk.  When its fully built out in 2040 it will be home to 145000 residents.

At Expo 2020 there was a beautiful waterfall feature that was designed by WET Design. It literally creates waves that can rush over people standing below. It’s hard to explain, you just have to see it in action. Checkout my YouTube video here. WET Design, which has created some of the world’s most famous fountains including The Dubai Fountain, The Rain Vortex in Singapore, Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, 1988 Lisbon Expo Fountains, Fountain of Nations at EPCOT in Florida, etc. WET (Water Entertainment Technologies) was founded by Mark Fuller, Melanie Simon and Alan Robinson in 1983. All three worked as Imagineers at Disney. Their original creation was the Leapfrog foundation at EPCOT.

Final stop for the day was Dubai Miracle Garden. I ended up taking a $25 taxi here, as it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. When I got in the cab I was shocked that it had over 500,000km, and it was a 2019 model! They really do use their cars here! The Dubai Miracle Garden is a beautiful flower garden occupying 780000 square feet of space, which makes it the world’s largest natural flower garden. It features over 50 million flowers, and 250 million plants. It was opened in 2013 by Dubailand and Dubai Properties Group. The flowers are maintained by the re-use of 760000 litres (260000 gallons) per day of treated wastewater. My favourite feature of course was the Emirates Airbus A380. If you love large displays of flowers and foliage, be sure to checkout my blog post on my experiences in Singapore.

After exploring the beautiful gardens I took a cab back to my hotel, since it was nearly 11:00pm. This time the cab had nearly 580,000km.