Saturday, 25 October 2008

Settling in just fine

I'm now a fully fledged resident of Dubai. I'm in a reasonably well established area, where the grass has roots and the palms and trees are established unlike much of the city that is a bit of a building site. The area around me is still a bit chaotic with major roadworks at all exits from the suburb, but at least there seems to be some progress being made. The most annoying part of my drive to work now is the constant beeping of the 120 km/hr speed warning in my hire car once I'm past the roadworks. It takes me about an hour to commute 70 km, whereas it used to take over an hour to commute 20 km when I stayed in Sharjah.

I recently visited the newly opened Atlantis Hotel and Water Park, situated on the tip of Palm Jumeirah. What a place. The attention to detail is incredible. The glass and water sculpture in the main entrance is staggering and the aquarium fantastic. The aquarium has one glass window that must measure 8m x 8m. It seems to be about 300mm thick at the bottom tapering towards the top, there are three panels joined virtually invisibly. It is incredibly clear and has no distortion. The tank holds thousands of fish of many spiecies, I'm just amazed that they can all live together without being eaten.

The water park is great fun too, the water is in fact cooled to make it more pleasant. There are brilliant rides and slides and a circular wave ride with rapids. I still can't quite figure out how it all works, there seem to be more downhills that uphills and yet it all links up somehow. Perhaps the design was based on an Esher work. It's been built by Sol Kerzner, so those of you who've been to the Lost City and Sun City will know what to expect.
I loved the ride through the shark pool. OK the sharks are a lot smaller than they show in the promotional material, but it's great to float inside an aquarium with fish all around you.
I chickened out of the "Leap of Faith" virtial slide though.
The temperature now is quite pleasant. The middle of summer was a bit of a strain, but now I am starting to understand why people may want to come here on holiday.
I was out at the pub with friend on Thursday night (that's the start of the weekend here) and it was mobbed. It was a great outdoor bar on the beachfront on about 3 different levels and hundreds (probably thousands) of expats enjoying the milder outdoor weather. One of my friends made the observation that "this is a country where beer is expesive and petrol is cheap (but doesn't taste as good)". That's quite true, I can fill my car with pertrol for about the same price as two beers in a high end pub. Petrol is about a seventh of the cost of what I was paying for petrol in the UK, and beer probably costs double. If you buy your beer or whisky from one of the bootleg bottle shops in the neighbouring emirates, it's significantly cheaper than buying from a supermarket in the UK.

1 comment:

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