Saturday, January 27, 2007


Not sure what to entitle today's post, I settled on Dubai as being closest to what's on my mind. This won't, however, be any sort of overview or particularly representative account of Dubai. Instead, just a few snapshots, so to speak, of the bit of Dubai I experienced today.

One compelling image of the day was smog, in that it made for a particularly striking image. It was in fact a beautifully clear day. I was cruising along Sheikh Zayed Road at about noon, leaving Bur Dubai and heading in the direction of Jebel Ali. As I made my way toward new Dubai the Burj Al Arab was off in the distance in all of its postcard splendor. However, that perfect image was being transformed right before my eyes as two streams of brown-colored atmosphere moved toward and beyond the tower, creating an almost pretty contrast against the rich mid-day blue.

I wondered where it was coming from. I thought I might be lucky to be able to determine, definitively, the source of Dubai's smog. "It's probably coming from the Jebel Ali power station," I surmised, as I had recently read that due to a shortage of natural gas supply the plant had been forced to burn oil for electricity, apparently a much dirtier fuel. But as I approached Dubai Marina, just before the power station, it was apparent that that was not the primary source of the brown haze. The Marina was already enveloped in it, though it seemed more diffused than the streams that flowed past the Burj Al Arab. The source, now undeterminable, was somewhere out in the distant inland desert.

Was it perhaps sand turned up by the countless construction vehicles that incessantly plow the desert? Were there factories of some kind out there? Unfortunately I'd have to remain in the dark a bit longer on the source of Dubai's pollution.

As I continued on with the rest of the day, I soon forgot about that little quest to find what was dirtying the air. I walked around Dubai Marina, where I was instead mesmerized by the towers against the blue sky backdrop and the green and blue waters of the Marina and nearby sea.

The number and height of towers are steadily on the rise. Although I've been in the Marina countless times it appears more and more built up with each visit. But I have no qualms with the ongoing construction and endless detours on the roads. It is clear that what is emerging is something that will be quite spectacular when most of it is said and done.

Later, I made my way to the Ibn Battuta Mall, with its beautiful and varied Oriental themes. Some complain about its Disneyland quality, its artificial and rather superficial display of history. Its Indian, Chinese, Persian, Egyptian and other styling is picture perfect, and all too new. But it is so wonderfully colorful and eclectic. That sufficiently makes up for the fact of having to cross great lengths to get from one establishment to another, as the mall stretches on for hundreds of meters--one or two kilometers I would guess.

As I entered the Chinese court with its huge life-sized replica of a Chinese junk, I marveled to myself, "This is Dubai." I really thought that. It was a completely spontaneous thought, and soon forgotten, until now. At that moment I imagined myself having friends and family visiting me from overseas and showing them this place and saying, "This is Dubai."

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Seabee said...

The pollution down here at the Marina is primarily cement dust. I have to sweep it every day.

As for Ibn Battuta, I agree with you. I have no problem with our shopping malls having a theme - they make the mall itself an attraction. Mercato is another. Kitsch they may be, but they're very well done and the alternative is just a bland building with similar or identical shops to all the other malls.

BD said...

Cement dust? That makes sense, with all the construction. Sometimes, too, the sand and dust is so fine that you can't tell it's in the air except for the residue.

I sometimes forget about Mercato. It really is another pleasant spectacle. Mall of the Emirates is obviously the in place. While certainly fancy and nice, it lacks the charm of these other two. I've seen the upcoming Dubai Mall Center and it is more along the lines of MoE.

rosh said...

I remember when City Center, Lamcy plaza and Al Nasr Cinema - were the "it" places to hang out.

Al Nasr Cinema looks like a ghost town these days. All of Karama seems to have moved into Lamcy plaza and City Center seems to be going thru a slow shopping mall's demise.

It is the IBN Battuta and countless others which have come across DXB/SHJ/AJ that's sprawling these days.

Wonder if this cycle will continue into the future?