Dubai is a long flight of 18 hours from Calgary, and there are lots of other places, a lot of closer other places that were higher on my dream list of vacations--like Ireland and Greece, and hey, I’ve always dreamed of cycling in France.
But I’d promised my youngest daughter, who was only nineteen, that if she went for a 3 month work term, I would come to visit. And so, after she left in the beginning of January, I dutifully booked my tickets and hotel, never dreaming that I was soon to embark on a fascinating, wonderful holiday.
Despite recent financial woes, Dubai still comes across as a fabulously wealthy, modern and cosmopolitan city. There are the one-of-a-kind buildings like the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Dubai ( the tallest building in the world...thankfully not open for visiting when I was there!). There are amazing modern malls filled with world famous fashion designers and more jewelry stores than I have seen in my entire life. And the restaurants provide some of the best food I have ever tasted.
My daughter and I were able to visit a roof-top bar at the Embassy Hotel, where we lounged on a white, slip-covered sun bed, the sweet smell of shisha in the air as we sipped exotic cocktails and had our feet professionally massaged.
But more than all the glamour, I appreciated the glimpses into historic Dubai. The labyrinth of souks selling gold and diamonds, bags of spices and teas, and beautifully fashioned textiles. The real heart of this city seems to be at the creek where we saw old ships piled with merchandise from far-away places...a reminder that most of what is consumed and sold in Dubai, is grown or produced in other countries.
Many people have asked me if I will set one of my future books in Dubai. Much as I’d love to write the trip off as a research cost (just kidding Revenue Canada!) I honestly don’t think I ever could. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of a distant place, a distant culture. But I’m very glad that, thanks to a promise to my daughter, I was at least able to make a visit.
If you’d like to see more pictures of my holiday, please check out my Dubai photo album on Facebook. And if you have any Dubai stories (or any exotic holiday story) please share!
C J Carmichael