INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Archive for Dubai

Sand Castles — القلاع الرملية

Up jumped Dubai.
The Dubai strip.
Dubai, UAE

قمة البرج: صوّر من البرج خليفة — At the “Top”: Pictures from the Burj Khalifa

Up to the 124th floor (36 stories below the spire), on the 10 meter-per-second elevator.
The Burj Khalifa
Dubai, UAE

الجمعي مفتون — Everyone is Intrigued

Note the camera on the right — we all think this is silly.

Gold, at 1,483 feet (452 meters).
The GOLD to go® vending machine on the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai, UAE

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

A man waiting outside the art galleries
Dubai International Financial Center
Dubai, UAE

Burj and Creek — برج وخور

Above: Dubai Creek, Bastakia, Dubai
Way Above: The fucking tallest building in the world, that’s why

Dubai, UAE

مطب — Bump

A cross-country trip in the United Arab Emirates is never very difficult. From Abu Dhabi to the Saudi Arabian border, no longer than four hours; it is no longer distance from the city’s warm insulated nook in the Gulf to the other side of the Emirati promontory where waters are cleared and cooled by the Arabian sea. Roads are wide, fast, straight — I could make no more than four turns and be through the low mountains to Fujairah, supine by the sea with a snorkel and a bottle of rum. It would be so easy.

It was sometimes a struggle navigating the HMS Matsuflex through the stream of white Land Cruisers racing past. A favorite local driving technique is to charge drivers ahead flashing high beams (day or night) to make them move: Give me passage or give me death. I shant change lanes. It must seem so convenient to drivers in their hulking SUVs to have a stick to the left of the steering wheel that simply makes traffic move. If you don’t take notice quick enough, if it isn’t nighttime and you haven’t been blinded by lasers in your rearview mirror, you’re finished.

Although a ’92 Benz won’t be the fastest in any Emirati fleet, it was easy to go the 120 kph speed limit (75 mph) without trouble (conspicuous radar detectors issue instant $200 fines at 140), but that wasn’t good enough. In the right lane, trucks inched along out of everyone’s way, in the center traffic still moved too slowly, and in the left lane, we were prey to assholes. On the high seas of the Sheikh Zayed Highway, we were in constant struggle.

After only an hour, the car seemed to be wheezing. She would reach a top speed and then jerk suddenly slower, as if struggling to change gears. The radio would turn off. The ship had become a horse — in short bursts with my coaxing she stayed speedy, but only for moments. We pulled into a highway gas station and turned off the engine. The battery died.

One jumpstart later, we were soon on the Dubai-Hatta road, following signs for “Eastern Regions,” and heading deadly straight toward the Fujairah coast. The wheezing seemed to have abated, and golden sand dunes sprung up along the roadside, red-orange from beneath my sunglasses. My god, the desert is actually pretty.

And that’s when I smashed into the back of another car.

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Dubai is Weird — دبي هو غريب

By the sushi place and across from the IMAX movie theater is a life-sized dhow fishing boat beached on the mall floor.

“China Court” in the Ibn Batoota Mall
Jebel Ali
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It looks like a CG artist’s rendering, but it’s not. This is real Dubai.

Walkway below the galleries
Dubai International Financial Center
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

(More posts {with words} soon.)

Can’t get over it.


Jesus Fucki*g Chri*t.
    The Burj Khalifa — Dubai, U.A.E.
    (828 m; 2,761.5 ft.)

A City Burjeoning — “مدينة في”تبريج

After a series of changed plans and cancellations, the World Economic Form (famous for meetings in Davos, Switzerland) issued a last minute invitation to our UAE Philharmonic Orchestra. We were to play at the opening banquet of the third annual Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai, where 600 economist-types from around the world discuss what’s going wrong, why, and what we’re all going to do about it.

We parked in the first level of the Dubai Mall parking, looking for the world’s only Armani Hotel in the world’s tallest building. But somehow, as easy as the Burj Khalifa is to find, the entrances remain hidden — and we walked for half an hour through the mall, past ice skating and thousand-dollar handbags, and around the massive foundation for half an hour trying to find the right way in. Like anywhere else in the Emirates, employees and passersby are often only experts in their immediate neighborhood: looking for Gatehouse 6, we were met with blank stares by the guards at Gatehouse 3.

Finally, we snaked through the back entrance and onto the massive “patio” of the Burj Khalifa, where the tower looms more incredibly than from any other perspective. This is not the kind of “hey, wow, that’s incredible” you feel when you look at the world’s biggest ball of yarn, or Italy’s biggest pizza — this is a kind of un-credibleness that makes your brain do a triple Salkow and faceplant into the ice cold reality of physics, still struggling to make sense of it all. For some reason, from some angles in bright daylight, the brain is sometimes able to shrink down the Burj — to convince itself that it’s just a shorter building that’s really, really skinny. But at night against the sky’s black backdrop, there’s no escape, and the mind capitulates to accept the new biggest thing it’s ever seen.

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