Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Dubai - Day 1 - Internet City

Dis-Orientation Day

sunny 29 °C
Even though Fraser prefers Singapore Airline, we decided to fly with Emirates again because of our previous positive experience.

The seat doesn't seem to feel as spacious as I remember from my previous Emirates flight (see "Flying with Emirates" entry), perhaps because I'm sandwiched between seats. The plane is fitted with the latest extra wide TV screen - almost too wide for viewing at this distance. Power point and Internet socket is also available for your laptop, and so is an USB port for viewing your photos directly from your camera on a wide screen.

The Flight Info screens are also updated with some added 3D graphics, and views of a Forward Cam and Down Cam are available for the kiddies at heart like myself. The Down Cam is good for viewing the ground when your plane is taking off and landing. When the plane is taxing on the run way after landing, the images on Forward Cam looking like computer flight simulation game.

The flight took about 7 hours from Singapore to Dubai.

We supposed to stay in Fraser Suites, one thing or another, to cut a long story short, we ended up stayed in Holiday Inn Express @ the Internet City, next door to the districts called knowledge Village where you would find many universities huddle one another, and the Media City. These hi-tech cities are all located within a district called Al Sufouh 2. The trunk of the Palm Jumeira connects to Dubai Pearl in Al Sufouh 2 in the north.

Maybe our hotel is right on the boundaries of these cities - we have Zayed Univerity besides us, and Trend Micro outside my hotel's bedroom window, and BBC across the street. According to the plaque at the main door, this is a 2-star hotel. Dubai has a few clumps of skyscrapers that dotted along the main artery of Sheik Zayed Rd. This hi-tech city that made up of 3 cities is one such clump. The other clump is the city centre where Dubai Mall is located.

For a city that's supposed to developed its tourism industry, it isn't big on maps. I couldn't find any free maps in the airport (maybe they run out), nor any good ones in the hotel. The Etisalat Yellow Pages I found in the hotel is a heavy tome. Much heavy than the Sydney one and Dubai is only a fraction of Sydney in terms of both the size of the population and geography. Business here is blowing Sydney out of water, going by its business ads. In it I found 16 pages of street directory that are more detailed than the hotel tourist map, but short on tourism details. Bring along your guide books for maps.

David B - Atta's GM boss - took us to an eat street on the Jumeira Marina (the largest in the world, so I'm told). Going by the number of ristorante I've seen, the Emirates in Dubai seems to be falling head over heels with Italian grubs. And Chinese also seems to tail just behind Italian. The Chinese are tended to be the 'fusion' type, probably due to the lack of Chinese expat chefs here. But it won't be Italians who make the pizza here either. They are most likely people from the Indian subcontinent or Fillipinos.

Next to 'Wok Away' Chinese restaurant is 'La Dolce Vita', which we decided to walk into. As it turned out that even though we obeyed the order to 'Wok Away', we actually didn't. The two restaurants may have separate doors, names and signage, they're actually under the one roof (we didn't know that; we were sitting outdoor). They handed us both the Chinese and Italian menus (in English of course). Multiple national dishes in one restaurant turned out to be the way to go here (abuse of 'fusion'? Confused us profusely). Purity and authenticity isn't a big selling point here; diversity is. This restaurateur covers all bases and gives into popularity contest. And this culinary diversity also reflects the ethnic diversity in the population, but not correspondingly. I.e. there're many Italian and Chinese restaurants don't mean there many Italian and Chinese expats. But like most Gulf States, because of their low population, and oil-riched fuelled growth, they need to import many foreign workers. In the case of Dubai they're much larger than the indigenous population. About 85% of the population are made up of expats (Indian accounts for half of this), which suggests their explosive growth. Fair-skinned northern Indian are quite hard to tell apart from Arabs until they speak.

David B, who has been living here for months, and a lover of Chinese chow (he's a white Aussie fella), advised us to stay away from Chinese chuck in Dubai. He had yet found one he liked. We dined many a time in Sydney, so we know he has good taste in Chinese (we're his friends, aren't we?). So we ordered some pizza. Should've gone for Chinese. Could it get any worse? I doubt it.

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