12 March 2004

Vegas without the Gambling...

...one of the guide books described Dubai in this way, and last night we really felt we were in Vegas.

We were taken to dinner at the Mina a' Salam , a resort hotel on the coast, just down from the Burj al Arab (billed as the only 7-start hotel in the World in the brochures). The strangeness of the place was only matched by the indoor Canale Grande at the Venetian in the real Vegas.


Dubai seems to lack any historical architecture, since there wasn't much here apart from a small trade port before oil was discovered, so one of the few genuine local architectural features are the wind towers, early air conditioning devices that funnel cold air into a building and hot air out. Those towers were originally two or three stories high. The lit towers you see in the picture below topping the building are replicas of this style. The Mina a' Salam also features an artificial harbour and fake abbras (the local water taxis).


This was the first time we were at the beach, since most of the sea-front in Dubai is private, belonging to the resort hotels. We sat outside for dinner, with the sound of surf behind us (although Stuart maintained that it was probably a wave machine - it's easy to assume everything is fake here after a while) and the Burj lightshow in front of us. The were carpets rolled out on the sand with cushions and low seats under canopies... very Lawrence of Arabia, although, Fiver suspects, not at all like in real life.


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