Saturday 18th – Thursday 23rd

So, I return to Dubai for the first time in 15 years, and figured I’d put up some photos and a few random thoughts (my most popular kind!). I’m here for the Cabsat trade show, which is also what brought me here in 2002. That was our first ever trade show as Digital Rapids – and boy has there been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

First sight at the airport is a familiar and welcoming one – Costa coffee:

Yay! Coffee!

Welcome since I’d just come off a 9 hour overnight flight, it’s 7am, and I’ve had almost no sleep. Caffeine and sugar just what the doctor ordered. At first I thought it odd that Costa showed up in multiple places in Dubai – I later found out that the UAE franchise for the London-based chain is actually operated by Emirates Leisure Retail, part of Emirates Group – who also own Emirates Air and who’s CEO is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (ruler of Dubai…)

Burj Khalifa

A lot of other familiar brands there as well – Tim Horton’s (Canadian coffee chain!), Yo! Sushi, Five Guys, TGI’s, WH Smith – even Waitrose!
So began my day by dropping bags at hotel and pleading for early check-in – not a hope. Rather warm out, about 28degC, so feeling a little sweaty. Hopped the monorail to visit the massive Dubai Mall, and for my 12:30 visit up the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa.

View looking along the coast

View from the top was pretty cool. Well, I say top but that would imply floor 154, I was actually at floor 124, the observation deck. Still a long way up. Seeing how Dubai has grown like crazy these last 15 years, I have to wonder if there is a bubble waiting to burst here. According to an old friend who’s lived here 10 years, many of the new buildings break ground and construct foundation and first few floors, then move on to start the next one – so there’s a lot of bets being hedged. It’s all about planning for an economy in the future once the oil has run out, and it seems Dubai sees this future in it being a free trade zone which encourages international investment. Good thing too as no-one pays any tax…

Balls of steel!

Oh, and in the image above you might just see a little line of dots along one of the floors – looks to be around the 135th. Here’s the enlargement. My ‘balls of steel’ award goes to these guys, hanging on ropes with climbing harnesses, washing windows…

I’ll leave this post now, with a selection of images from my visit. The aquarium in the mall is a 10 million litre tank, and is currently teaming up with Discovery Channel on their shark week. The only reason the divers aren’t being eaten is because they’re feeding the sharks well! Enjoy.