"" Writer's Wanderings: At The Top of Dubai

Thursday, April 07, 2011

At The Top of Dubai

Our second morning in Dubai found us scurrying to the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest. Just past the entrance where our taxi dropped us off, we found ourselves viewing one of the largest indoor aquariums we had ever seen and teeming with marine life! On the wall was a plaque that read “Guinness World Record” and then a lot of writing in Arabic. At first we thought that it was for the largest aquarium but then a little further on, we discovered an English explanation that said the world record was for the largest piece of acrylic glass. The Dubai Mall was huge. Three or four stories and over 22,000 square meters in area. There are 1200 stores and shops most of which were a bit upscale from those we’d seen in the Mall of the Emirates. A large section was a Gold Souk featuring dozens of jewelry stores. The really fascinating section was on the first floor where there was an expo/competition of sorts going on with lots of small sales stalls set up where new entrepreneurs were showing their products. It was interesting to see ladies in their long black abayas and head scarves selling novelty tee shirts and flashing Mickey Mouse type ears. The malls in Dubai are set up in an interesting manner. There are sections devoted to fashion or electronics or home products, etc. It would certainly make shopping for something specific a lot easier. Also, the international mix of Dubai is evident in the products that are sold and the types of stores available to shoppers. In other parts of the country, as we were told, there is a less liberal attitude to some of these things. We strolled outside the mall to a huge man-made lake that was surrounded by the mall, a residential/hotel area, and the Burg Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. In the middle of the lake, was the Dubai Mall Fountain with dancing waters. The fountain only runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the evening. We would need to return if we wanted to see it. It was duly added to our agenda. After a quick bite of lunch, we headed to the entrance in the mall for At The Top where you begin your trip to the top of the Burg Khalifa. Bob had reserved tickets online for us several weeks before our trip. We were glad to have had the foresight. Tickets were sold out for this day and the next and perhaps even past that. Our tickets were ready at will call and after picking them up, we entered the lobby area and joined others in line as we were channeled through corridors with pictures and interesting facts about the design and construction of the building—200 stories, 12,000 construction workers, 57 elevators—elevators! That made my stomach jump a bit. We were told that we would rise to the 127th floor in about one minute. I was wondering how fast we would come down? There was no need to worry. The elevator ride was the smoothest I’d ever had--both ways. The only thing you noticed was your ears popping a little. And the view was spectacular. We were high enough in the building that there was a 360 view as you walked around. Part of it was outdoors. In one sense, it was difficult to imagine we were that high because many of the buildings and complexes like the Dubai Mall are so huge that you lose perspective. The view allows you to see how this city just suddenly rises from the desert. It also tickles the imagination as you notice how many more large foundations are at the ready for future structures. Dubai is still growing. Once we again reached ground level, my legs began to tell me how much we had walked—at least miles in the mall. We took a taxi back to our hotel and relaxed for a bit before our next adventure was to begin—elegant tea at the Burg al Arab.

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