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Using the Worlds Highest Urinal

Dubai is a city of extremes. Just about everywhere you go you can find the biggest, the fastest, the tallest.

My mother came to visit my wife and I last week, and we decided to be tourists in our own town. Technically we live in Sharjah, which is next door to Dubai. While being a rather sleepy town (Emirate actually) it is lovely, but without the superlatives you encounter in Dubai. Dubai seems to be working towards the Guinness Book of World Records for the most entries by a municipality in the Guinness Book of World Records.

We visited, in order;

The worlds largest indoor aquarium. This is located in the Dubai Mall, one of if not the largest mall in the world. It is 4 stories tall, each floor the size of five football fields, and this aquarium goes all the way up. There were an incredible number of fish, even sharks in this thing.

Attached to this mall is the new icon of Dubai

The world's tallest building and free standing structure, the Burj Khalifa

On the top of the Burj we visited

The worlds highest observation deck. Those little buildings below are really big skyscrapers.

The elevator to this observation tower is the worlds fastest elevator, 124 floors in 45 seconds. Yes, your ears pop.

All along we were met with plaques put in place by the Guinness book people. However, I just know that when I went to the gents room in this observation toiwer I was using the world’s highest urinal. Even though there was no plaque. I did not have a magic marker or I would have written graffiti to let people know what an honor it was to urinate there.

We also visited

The world's largest hanging gardens. This is my mom standing next to the Guinness sign

These beautiful gardens went on and on for acres.

To top it off my mom flew round trip on the 4th longest regularly scheduled air rout. LAX/Dubai/LAX. It is a 15 hour flight one way. Way to go mom!

Dubai is like the land of Oz. It is becoming a big tourist destination, for cause. The tourists are mostly European and Asian. Americans watch too much Fox news. I just feel lucky to live here.

Thats is it for this post. Next week I am off to Chiang Mai and the first week of June…KENYA! Stay tuned. Tell a friend, and please make a comment.

Ramblings

This will be a pointless set of ramblings, without theme or purpose. I just feel like writing y’all and telling you some tidbits about life here on the Arabian side of the coconut that might otherwise go unstated. Bear with me, don’t look for a thread here, I am just jumping from branch to branch.

I read the Gulf News every day. I read all of it. I even read the want ads and classifieds. Primarily of course I read the front section, but I also always read the business section. I NEVER read the business section of the LA times, so I either have a lot of time on my hands, or I find entertainment in it. Both actually. I will dispense with the want ads and classifieds to say I now know that I could never get a job here, and I also know what a used Bentley costs. (Yes, I am enamored with Bentleys)

Lets look at premium Dubai realty first. The tallest building in the world is named the Burj Khalifa. Burj translates into tower. I forget how many floors this tower has,but I know if you took the world trade center buildings and stood them on top of each other, they would not be as tall as the Khalifa. The tower has hotels, restuarants, businesses and yes apartments. Wanna move to deluxe apartment in the sky? Well Armani, the  Italian designer, just opened a hotel in the Burj, and he also designed and is selling apartments. A 2 bedroom, 2237 sq ft apartment (so high you probably cannot hear the call to prayer) will run you a mere AED 21,000,000. The AED (dirham) exchanges with the US$ at a fixed rate of 3.655 Aeds to the $  You do the math.

There are also a wide range of Villas available in Dubai. Some of them are huge. In fact, a student of one of Mary Ann’s colleagues lamented that she had to call her father because she had not seen him in 5 days. The prof asked “is your father travelling?” She said “no, he is home, but the house is so big I just don’t see him for days sometimes.”

OK, you are all wondering what a Bentley will cost me when I talk Mary Ann into it (Hiya babe, just kidding) In todays classifieds, a 2005 Bentley can be had for a mere AUD 349,000. Or, a Porsche 911 Gembala can be had for 319,000. A new Range Rover for 289,000, a 2005 Lamborghini for 319,000. Of course there are the less expensive Mercedes, and then for us plebeians, Fords.

Bored yet? Don’t go away unhappy, read on.

The business section is somehow always interesting. It seems that luxury is the main attraction here, surprise. Every once in a while there is a story about the UAE based Emirates Airlines having survived the worldwide economic down turn by offering more and better first class services (you can take a shower on a long haul Emirates Air flight in first class, yes a shower) Dubai luxury hotel units increased by 16% this year, and occupancy went up by more than that.

Now, the fun news. I will grant you this, the papers cannot be critical of the rulers. That is forbidden. Say what you want.

Every time a ruler type appears in a photo in the paper, which is multiple times a day, especially the ruler of Dubai, his entire name and title appear in the caption. So, a typical caption might read “Sheik Mohammed al Quatani al Aid Minister of finance, Supreme Commander of the armed forces and ruler of Dubai, cuts the ribbon to open a new office building”.  Under that is another photo, same guy, with this caption “Sheik Mohammed al Quatani al Aid Minister of finance, Supreme Commander of the armed forces and ruler of Dubai, meets the President of Somewhere”  It gets old, and you just learn to skip titles.

This guy, the Ruler of Dubai impresses me. He is always out doing something to promote his Emirate and the UAE in general. This week he is hosting a worldwide confab of sports big shots. Dubai, as I posted earlier, already has the best race track for horses. They host very fine golf tournaments as well as tennis. They also host many other sporting events of worldwide stature. The ruler is now talking about a possible bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. He was quoted as saying that if they bid, they will bid to win. He talked about Dubai’s “can do” ethics. He is serious about promoting sports because he says that the UAE culture has gone soft due to the luxury they enjoy now. He is worried that over 40% of UAE children have diabetes, and he thinks strong sports programs are a good step towards lowering that problem. Good for him.

Now summer in Dubai can be brutal. However, they can most assuredly build air-conditioned facilities for just about anything. I don’t know about the equestrian events, and I truly wonder about the Marathon, but the rest can all be done indoors. Remember, this is the desert country that put a ski slope in a shopping mall!

Weird news that my sensibilities cannot grok include the following:

A man from India (maybe Pakistan, I can’t tell them apart) was arrested for wearing a Sarong on the street. (Hey KIWI, you reading this ?  I’d love it if you came to visit, but you would need to wear pants)

A school bus was stopped by the police and told to remove the curtains it had up over the windows. There is a law against curtains and tinted windows on school buses, I do not know why.

A Brit was arrested for flipping the rigid didget on the road at another driver who angered him. The “victim” called in the brit’s license number and the police came and arrested him. The accuser does not need to appear in court. The Brit faces a fine, incarceration, then deportation. I have a bad habit of using my middle finger demonstratively at times, I might tape it to my palm.

And finally, a Brit expat working here, brought a paramour down from Britain for a luxury vacation in Dubai. They were staying in a very expensive hotel in a ritzy resort area. They were seen embracing each other. They say it was a peck on the cheek. The woman who reported them said that her children were subjected to a amorous display of lust. The real story is somewhere between the two I am sure, but the short end is that this couple faces four years in prison, and then of course deportation.  I have stopped kissing Mary Ann anywhere outside of our hotel room.

Well, that is enough for now. Sorry to bore you if you read this far, thanks, and tell a friend. By the way, on a good day, I am getting 30 to 34 hits on my blog. I am hungry for attention and want more MORE!

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