Wednesday, March 30, 2016

[DUBAI] Where Did All the Arabs Go

I just went malling in Dubai. I know, right? It’s not that there isn’t anything to see, but it’s just that... Well, if you have been following my travel related blog posts for the last few years, you must have already noticed this pattern where the cities towards the end of my itinerary always suffer from indifference and exhaustion. It’s just the way it is, which is why I am trying to limit all my travels to a maximum of two weeks. Fortunately, Dubai is a really good place for chilaxin’, and chillax I did.

The place somehow reminds me of Singapore, where it’s good to stay for a day or two to splurge and play around. It seems like a really comfortable city to live in, but will make you think twice before relocating because it’s so effing expensive. I guess the difference is that while there are many Filipinos living and working in SG, there are even more of them in the UAE. Almost every person you meet here is either Filipino or Indian. Where all the Arabs went, I really don’t have a clue.

Ah, yes. That phenomenon. I remember when I landed in the US for the first time last year, Los Angeles, of all places. I was, like, where are all the white people? Everyone you see is either Mexican or Chinese, although you would still see, like, two or three Caucasians a day, usually driving their cars or jogging. They were a minority, though. It seems to be the same case in Dubai, except that you substitute the Caucasian with an Arab, and the Mexicans and Chinese with Filipinos and Indians.

Dubai’s malls are legit. They even have this one called Mall of the Emirates that has a fake winter wonderland inside, where locals and tourists alike pretend that they are not in the Middle East’s arid desert. But what I found really interesting is that they have Jollibee here, and the lines are never-ending. Imagine the curiosity on a foreigner’s face wondering who or what the heck Jollibee is and why all these people are waiting patiently for their turn to order food they can also get at McDonalds.

But instead of talking about malls, why don’t we talk about the few touristy sites I managed to squeeze in between my unavoidable bouts of acute indolence? I can only think of one, and that was Palm Jumeirah. You see, there is this fancy looking manmade residential area on the sea, shaped like a palm. Looking at a tourist map makes it look like a mere decoration for the bay, like a reef or something. You’ll find out when you go there that it’s actually way, way bigger than that, like a giant village for the ultra-rich.

Dubai’s metro and tram systems are easy to follow, and I’m pretty sure you will figure it out. You should, because it is really helpful and cheaper than taking a cab, obviously. You’ll be taking a combo of those two to get to Palm Jumeirah, where the main attraction is this huge resort complex that goes by the name of Atlantis. I think it is the brainchild of the same people behind that one in the Bahamas. The style looks pretty much the same, as well as the prohibitive prices if you decide to stay at their hotel.

The water park is really nice and tempting, but I didn’t think it was worth it if I wasn’t swimming anyway. The plan was to pay for the admission fee so I could take photos and videos inside. I decided against it because, as I said, I think it wasn’t worth it. I’d rather come back some other time with family and friends so I could enjoy more and not feel guilty splurging for nothing. Those who were swimming inside seemed really satisfied, though, so I am defo including this on my bucket list.

The malls were malls, good venues to kill time. The one where I saw Batman v Superman is called Dubai Mall, a stone’s throw away from the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest structure in the world according to Wiki. It does look impressive from afar regardless if you see it day or night. My issue with it is that a decent selfie didn’t seem to be possible close-up, unless you don’t include your head or something to that effect. In the end, I snubbed it altogether. Like, fuck you, tall building. I’ll go watch a movie now.

I think what I brought home with me from this Dubai trip was not the sightseeing itself this time around, but rather the experience of living there like a local for two or three days, and observing firsthand what life is like for OFWs, those who have chosen to live far away from their families in the Philippines so they can give them a better future. While there seems to be enough distractions for the single and the obligation-free, I can only imagine how depressing it is for the family man or woman missing his/her family.
[DUBAI] Where Did All the Arabs Go

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