Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dubai Part 1

October 26, 2008, Dubai UAE: In the fall of 2008, I was asked to join a partner roadshow that had events in Dubai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. As the flight from Tokyo to Shanghai is only a few hours, I was given permission to also spend a week in China to finish training one of our new colleagues, Sandy, with whom I'd been working long distance that year. Thank you, John for letting me take this trip.

A lot of people have a great deal of curiosity about Dubai. I had sent many of my friends my best photos from this trip by email, within this blog, I'd like to look at what I saw more closely over several different postings. Also, as Mireya and I just bought a house in San Jose and are in the process of moving, my festival going days are on hold for a short while.

I didn't know much about Dubai before I left, other than what my friend, Reem, told me over dinner one evening. Reem worked for Cisco in Dubai for about 2 years and speaks fluent Arabic. I knew that I liked staying at Hyatt's so I chose the Hyatt Regency near the airport. You'll notice that there's a long stretch of nothing behind the hotel in this photo. Actually, there is nothing like having nothing as your hotel room neighbor. It was quiet.

Upon arrival, I discovered that the hotel was 32 Km (20 miles) away from the office, which is in the Dubai Internet City, but the roads are good and the drive was interesting. Most of the other Cisco people who attended the same meetings stayed at hotels that were much closer to the office, but that were also next to construction sites. And, for them, the hammers pounded continuously 24 hours a day.

One trick to Dubai: there are not enough taxis and it was impossible to get a taxi between 7 and 9 in the morning or between 5 and 7 in the evening. Maybe that's better now due to the downturn and the fact that they turn on their light rail last year.

Where is Dubai? My favorite reference is the opening logo sequence for movies from Universal Studios. I added a green circle to these screen captures to show you where the United Arab Emirates are. I think about the UAE every time I see this sequence at home on a DVD or in the theatre. We flew over Iraq to get there, flying just south of the Iranian airspace.

As with many hotels I've seen in Asia, the room was luxurious and nicely decorated although the room rate was quite reasonable.

Apples as art or, in the case of Dubai, an exotic fruit that's a funny notion for me coming from the Pacific Southwest (of Canada.) That reminds me about something someone once told me about a valley in Oman that gets a lot of rain, Wadi Bani Khalid. It is a favorite vacation spot for wealthy families from all over the Arabian world. I once worked as a contractor for IBM who were installing a new phone system for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and people who had come back from Riyadh told us about this Wadi. Exotic rainy weather is a strange to me as exotic apples.

On the right: tea services are always a big deal in Asian hotels. With bottled water to boil. I'm sure the tap water was properly filtered, but you don't want to take any chances so far from home on a short visit.

Don't you love a cylindrical shower? They're totally tubular. If you look at the first interior photo with the round area behind the desk chair, that's the back side of the shower.

Yes, there was a touch of Europe in the facilities. Bidet anyone? There was also a full-length bathtub at the other end.

The breakfast bar sure beats the the one at the Best Western in Kendallville, Indiana (been there... twice!)

The view out the window shows an old neighborhood. According to Reem, that is what Abu Dhabi looks like. So, Sex in the City 2, has some explaining to do. Actually, they couldn't shoot in the Emirates due to the word, Sex, being in the title of the movie, so they shot it in Morocco.

Across the water, there was that magnificent nothing. The millimeter beyond the limit of human development has nothing. 

The buttons in the elevator betrayed one of the Arabian world's best kept secrets. In English, we call our numbers, Arabic numerals. But, Arabians don't use Arabic numerals, they use different numerals. Note that our 5 looks like a small o or 0 in Arabic. So, 15 in our Arabic numerals looks like 10, which explains the basis of an argument I had with the taxi driver from the airport.
"15 Dirhams, sir."
"But, your meter says, 10!"

Even the hotel room directions off of the elevator lobbies had translated numerals.

Looking the other way, while waiting for the elevator, you can see the city of Sharjah, which is where many of my Cisco peers live as Dubai was too expensive for them. Short distance, but a 30 minute drive due to heavy traffic. 

On the window ledge, a pointer to Mecca or, Makkah as it was transliterated into English here.

Next, riding in the taxi from the hotel to the office.

Copyright © 2010 David G. Kelly

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,
    Fascinating stuff! Especially since I don't think I'll ever get to Dubai... Have never even been to the Pyramids or to Petra, even though Israel is at peace with Egypt and Jordan. Michael has been to Egypt, years ago, before I met him.
    Take care,