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.