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Dubai City, where we have visited a couple of times, once as a small break and once for a job interview, is like a Singapore of the Middle East.Clean, neat and tidy, it also has character and plenty of shopping. We have not actually had too good a look around here yet, missing out on the beach areas or exploring further afield into the Emirates, but hopefully will one day. Not too far from India, it makes for a good short break stop, where batteries can be recharged and wallets emptied! I first went here while working for Oberoi Calcutta and in sourcing out a new contract, but did not like the property I was looking at, so the next trip had to wait until Marg and I took a visa renewal break out of Goa.

We stayed in a mid budget hotel in down town Dubai, closer to the river and the shopping areas, as the souks or markets were just a quick boat ride away. Quite nice with a good selection of food to be had, everything being imported as well as most of the Chefs, it also had a franchise restaurant and others were close at hand. We mainly did shopping, not sightseeing and really expect to get back there again one day, hopefully to work. The pictures below will be augmented when we have access again to our belongings, so I think these all come from Margs camera and concentrate on the waterways dividing the two sides of Dubai.

Dubai is affiliated with the United Arab Emirates, a union of seven Sovereign Sheikhdoms - six of which, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman - formed the present federation in 1971 when the British withdrew from the Gulf as part of the East of Suez policy and Ras Al Khaimah that joined a year later. They see themselves as various cultures that have come together as one complete nation although each Emirate retains a degree of self administration. While Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, Dubai itself is a large bustling commercial city that has not forsaken its ancient ways in the name of progress with skyscrapers and souks (markets) living side by side. While the emirate of Dubai covers 3,900 square kilometers, the population (estimated at 889,518 in 1990) is largely concentrated in the one main city, Dubai town. The major part of the Dubai emirate consists of rolling sand dunes once inhabited by nomadic bedouin with their flocks. Today the nomads have all settled, in villages in the few fertile oases or valleys, or else in the city. Initially though, it was some 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe, led by the Maktoum Family that settled at the mouth of the creek in 1833. The creek was a natural harbour and Dubai soon became a center for the fishing,pearling and sea trade. By the turn of the 20th century Dubai was a successful port and the souk on the Deira side of the creek was the largest on the coast. One hundred years later, in the 1930?s and Dubais population was nearly 20,000, a quarter of whom were expatriates. In the 1950s the creek began to silt and the late ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, decided to have the waterway dredged. It was an ambitious,costly, and visionary project but the move resulted in increased volumes of cargo handling and ultimately it strengthened Dubais position as a major trading and re-export hub. When oil was discovered in 1966, Sheikh Rashid bought in schools, hospitals, roads, and a modern telecommunications network. Included in these projects were a new port and terminal building built at Dubai International Airport and a runway extension that could accommodate any type of aircraft. The largest man-made harbour in the world was constructed at Jebel Ali, and a free zone was created around the port. Modern Dubai is the product of the past 20 years of intensive development.

Prior to that, Dubai was a small trading port, clustered around the mouth of the Creek but its cultural makeup was quite diverse with Arab, Russian, Iranian, and Filipino traditions contributing to the overall feel of Dubai. The international trade, which flowed from Dubai's cosmopolitan contracts,was the basis of its rapidly increasing prosperity. This gave the city an early start in development before the beginning of oil production in the late 1960s. While this trade has been greatly facilitated by oil production from the 1960s, oil revenues in Dubai have always been a fraction of those in Abu Dhabi, and Dubai's growth has always depended mostly on the inhabitant's own entrepreneurial abilities.Hatta is a one-and-a-half hour drive from Dubai and is the most easterly of Dubai's territories. This pleasantly green valley is a small enclave in the arid Hajar Mountains and is completely surrounded by land belonging to Oman, to Ajman and to Ras al-Khaimah. Nearer to Dubai about 20 kilometers inland, are the twin oases of Khawanij and Awir. These oases have been extensively developed over the past 20 years and the top echelon of Dubai society now live there.

The district has ample water supply, which has enabled gardens to be created so lush and colourful that it is hard to believe that this is still Arabia. Dubai also has a number of excellent beaches and beach parks. Dubai's main beaches run along Jumeira Road. In truth, it is one long beach divided up by hotels and private clubs, interspaced by a few public access beaches.The Jumeira beaches have soft white sand and with warm Arabian Gulf waters and January temperatures very pleasant, the beaches are full of Europeans. However, temperatures in June and July can reach 45-50 degrees centigrade with equally high humidity so it is bakingly hot! The Creek of Dubai is a natural seawater inlet which cuts through the centre of the city is the focal point of Dubai life. A stroll along its banks evokes the citys centuries old traditions and dhows still ply ancient trade routes to places as distant as India and East Africa. On both sides of the creek are the Souks or the market places, attractive not just for their shopping bargains but also as places for the sightseer and the photographer.These have survived on the Deira side despite the intensivebuilding in recent years and of course there are various souks depending on what is being sold. There are the tiny lanes of the spice souk, the slightly larger lanes of the gold souk, where each shop window is crammed with gold necklaces, rings, bangles,earrings and brooches and the fish souk, which is an attraction by itself. Early morning and late nights, local fishermen unload mountains of fresh fish, which they then sell in a frenzied bargaining session.

A couple of places that you should try and see are the Museum and the Mosque. Al Fahidi Fort that houses the Dubai Museum is an imposing building that once guarded the citys landward approaches.Built around 1787, it has served variously as palace, garrison and prison and renovated in 1970 as a National and Military museum. One of the most popular exhibits portrays the underwater world or pearl diving but there are also displays of artefacts such as fine copper, alabaster and pottery objects found in 3000 - 4000 year old graves at Al Qusais.Jumairah Mosque is a city landmark and one of the largest and most beautiful mosques built. Built of stone in medieval Fatimid tradition,it is a spectacular example of modern Islamic architecture.

Dubai city looking across the river to the modernistic buildings
The city of Dubai with its beaches, sooks and cleanliness!
Dubai museum - well worth a visit!
The river of Dubai, a busy throughfare with all sizes and sorts of crafts plying its waters
Dubai river on the market with its array of small craft catering to the sooks
One of the larger craft heading down river and into the Gulf
Bum boats going about their daily business with the river full of such craft
The Dubai river is always full of activity and there is no shortgae of photo opportunities!
One of the traditional ferries plying about on the river
Bum boats going about their business moving something anyway from one spot to another