Don’t let the title mislead you! We last went to Dubai in 2009. Twice in one year. Once to spend a long weekend in February with our friends, Ann and Wayne, and another when hubby was attending a telecoms conference in December and we stayed with our friends, Sharita and Radzif.
But this was the first time we had been to Dubai in the summer since we lived there almost eight years ago. It was hot, hot, hot!
If it hadn’t been for the the fact that we wanted to meet hubby’s cousin Javi and his wife Claudia, who had recently moved there from Spain, I don’t think we would ever have gone to Dubai in the summer. Hubby thought it was a good idea to spend some time with them in Dubai to show them around and share our experience about expat life in the middle-east.
Hot or not, it was great to see them and catch up. The last time we saw them was last December when we visited them and the family in Valladolid. Good, bad and sad memories there.
Good – we had a great time with them and the rest of the family in Valladolid even though it was a short visit. The meals, the long chats, visits to the family home, walks through the city. Bad – it was on the train back from Valladolid to San Sebastian that our passports got stolen. Sad – we didn’t know then but it would be the last time we would see Uncle Orlando, cousin Javi’s dad, as he passed away suddenly in the last week of June, just after we came back from our vacation. Javi and Claudia had just returned last week from Valladolid.
I have to say I was a little nervous as we stood at the Immigration counter at arrivals and the official looked at my passport, scanned it, looked at it again and said something to his colleague next door. Then he actually gave my passport to the guy. He said something, scanned it and then returned it to the first official.
Now what, I thought. Please, no more.
Hubby told me they couldn’t scan the passport. The official returned my passport and told us to go to counter 10 and present my passport there. I wondered what would happen. We had to queue again but it was a short queue unlike the queue we had to join when we first came in.
Thankfully it was just a counter where the official was willing to enter my data into the computer manually. I think the other officials were not keen to do so, that’s all.
Javi and Claudia saw us as we got to the meet and greet area. It was great to see them again, even though it hadn’t been that long since we last met. They lived in a Dubai Marina apartment and our hotel was the Irish “Bonnington” at the spanking new Jumeirah Lakes Towers, just 10 minutes from their apartment, so the first stop was supper somewhere near both places. We were famished.
We hadn’t planned to do anything specific but we did have a couple of to-do’s for the weekend which included taking so-called “landmark” photo shots of ourselves at the still majestic Burj al-Arab and the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa.
We did that on Friday morning when, like most other middle-eastern cities, the city would be much quieter than usual. Unfortunately the skies weren’t that clear. It was another hazy day. And a very hot one. We scrambled on to a vantage point on the beach and urgently snapped a couple of shots each with the Burj al-Arab behind us. It was really hot. We continued to show them around this part of Dubai which was still very familiar to us since we lived in the area 8 years ago. We drove to the Umm Suqueim area and took them to the villa where we used to live.
Many great memories sprang to mind. The villa looked lived-in and cosy. But it still looked very huge! Javi and Claudia told us how much they paid for their current apartment and it was exactly the same we were paying for this villa 8 years ago! Our villa cost 250,000 UAE dirhams per year to rent in 2009….I wonder how much its now..
This part of Dubai had not changed very much since we left. We had planned to have lunch at our favourite Arab restaurant, Reem al-Bawadi. It was still there on the Jumeirah Beach Road, serving the same exquisite Arab ambience and cultural experience we so enjoyed while we lived there. We really enjoyed the afternoon there and for a m omen, forgot about the intense summer heat out there!
Since Javi and Claudia lived in what was essentially the new Dubai, what we could aptly call the concrete jungle, we also tried to show them facets of the original or real Dubai, if you can call it that. So we took a drive across the creek and spent more than an hour in the hot midday sun stuck in the classic traffic jam towards the Shindagha Tunnel so that we could show them some historic parts of Dubai including Deira. We did not stop to take photos because of the heat but here is a great collection of the milieu of sights that make up Dubai.
We had been in all the new malls of Dubai so we stopped at the Deira City Centre for lunch. It hadn’t changed much since we were there last but evidently it was much less interesting than any of the new malls in the new Dubai.
The last stop before we left on our late evening flight back to Kuwait was the Dragon Mart, 150,000 sq metres dragon-shaped shopping centre with almost 4000 shops selling everything made in China. My friend Sharita had told Claudia about it and she was very keen to check it out. Lots of stuff to see there and miles and miles of shops.
So that was it. Our hot weekend in Dubai with our primos. It was a very short stay mostly spent engaged in catching up and sharing experiences in Dubai over coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner and I wished we could have stayed longer and met friends who still lived there. I’m glad though that this time around we experienced not just the new but also the old Dubai, the Dubai that we knew.
But Dubai is so close by and really easy to get to on a regular flight or low-cost flight from Kuwait, so we should make another trip there when the weather is better and do some of the touristic things we still need to do there like go up the Burj Khalifa, take the Dubai metro and take the abra tour at the Madinat Jumeirah.
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