Our Dubai and Cairo journey was a perfect juxtaposition of ultramodern with the ancient.
We came to planet Dubai to be astonished and this 21st century wonder did deliver. Since my visit last year Cameron Wake Hat , it has exploded with even more growth. Dubai seeks to become the world's premier tourist destination. With favorable tax rates, it is now home to worldwide mega corporations. Credit is due to the ruling sheik with his entrepreneurial vision and super tolerance. He's the opposite of xenophobic.
The 7 emirates are sandwiched between Iran, Qatar, Oman and Saudi. Each tiny kingdom is ruled by an emir or sheik. Once upon a time, Dubai was a sleepy village for pearl diving and camel trading. Today it expands at an astounding rate with 800 miles of new shoreline added from the man made islands. The hundreds of new islands in The Palm and The World are visible from space. This land of sun, sand, sea, snow and sex is a pocket of freedom in Arabia with such titles as; "Las Vegas of the Middle East", "St. Tropez of the Gulf" and "Monaco of the Desert."
The dichotomy is found in its Islamic culture within an environment of western affluence forming a total fusion of East meets West. It was hard to comprehend that there's a war going on next door in this clean and crime free city state.
We were welcomed with an Arabian dinner cruise onboard a wooden dhow. Our city tour revealed that camels have been replaced by cranes. We saw the new, nearly completed Burj Tower, tallest building in the world along with countless other architectural marvels. ("Burj" means tower in Arabic, thus "Burj Tower" ironically means "Tower Tower".) We visited the Spice Souks and glittering Gold Market. We toured neighboring Abu Dhabi, capital of the emirates that is actually an island.
We drove along the rich Corniche lined with lush gardens set against the turquoise Persian Gulf. We tasted chocolate dates, visited a fish market and entered the world's largest mosque. It holds 40,000 worshippers. There the women in our group had to cover head to toe in borrowed black abayahs (sort of a burka.)
One evening was our Desert Safari. Our caravan of 8 jeeps headed deep into the desert for some "dune bashing". Our driver Ahend careened like a drunken sailor at sea over the steepest dunes. As I screamed, he chatted on his cell phone.