I was in Dubai last week. It was super fun and super exhausting. It was my very first trip to the Middle East – and Dubai was absolutely fascinating. Here are my observations in a nutshell –
1. They don’t seem to do anything on a small scale. Everything is in superlatives. Biggest mall, tallest structure, biggest this, largest that, most expensive this, fastest that. It’s quite a spectacle really.
2. They also don’t seem to allow themselves to be limited by anything at all. Not even physical realities. There is money and there is science – and nothing is impossible. If there’s water – they make tunnels under it and land over it. If there is no vegetation on the sands, they seem to literally plant full fledged trees on the soil till the roots hold firm. They build massive palm shaped islands on reclaimed land and then build the most magnificent hotels in and around them. When they are bored with building structures that are simply tall, they twist them. It’s an architect’s Disneyland, I think.
3. Even the un-shopaholics tend to indulge in Dubai. I know I did. Apart from the huge shopping malls and the the fact everything you can think of is available there – as an Indian, I admit I enjoyed an additional kick knowing that you don’t get ripped off during a purchase paying half the money to the government in taxes.
4. Dubai Mall makes you exactly aware of all the things you can afford and all the things you cannot.
5. The city and its government probably have issues that need sorting out – I really don’t know. But most people I met were delighted at the way their city has transformed in a matter of a single decade. From a barren desert to a super modern global city with an enviable infrastructure. And I think thats pretty awesome.
6. I was also told that the city is relatively safe for women. It seems I can hop into a train at 3 AM and nothing untoward would happen. Whether or not thats true – the fact that people have such faith in public safety and law enforcement is a great thing. I can barely think of places in my country where I am confident about the safety of female tourists.
7. Democracy is awesome and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But Dubai just makes you wonder – is such a transformation really possible in a democracy where there is opposition politics? Or are these possibilities restricted to monarchies and single-party States or places where the head of State is virtually unopposed for many years ? Just something to think about – there are too many factors involved for one to ever get to real answer.
On a side note – we met up with our family friends and I must say – the cat in their house was a beauty. A ginger tomcat called Simba – isn’t that purrfect ?