Sunday 9 June 2013

The flight to Kuala Lumpur left me sore and exhausted. The next leg to Dubai was slightly better as I got a little bit of shut-eye. The first time I visited Dubai was in 2008 and I was looking forward to seeing how much the city had changed, especially in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis. It appeared it had not changed, but then again, Dubai is all about keeping up appearances. The flaunting of obscene wealth and splendour was impressive, but disturbing. As was the imposing billboard of the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – whose portrait was on display everywhere we went. Even though the aquarium was beautiful, too much time was wasted walking around the shopping mall, which had the same brands found everywhere else in the Western world. The aspiration to own European handbags and cars reflects an inadequacy felt by the Emiratis of their own culture. The architecture and landscaping of Dubai is stunning, however it seems devoid of natural beauty. The highlights of my visit were walking through the souks and the ride on an abra in the evening, which seemed to be the only traditional activities available to tourists. In hindsight, I can’t help but wonder where do the thousands of foreign labourers of these palaces live? Or what happened to the people who lived there before it became a perpetual building site? I suspect there is more to Dubai than what it seems…
- Angela Plazzer (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)

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