- Business class seat on a B777 and it arrived in Dubai earlier than usual. Hazry wanted to give me a surprise but he was a tad bit 'late'. He reached the gate but I was already way ahead at the immigration! It was the classic 'so near yet so far' situation. We were literally separated by a glass wall. That's as near as I got to having breakfast with a buddy in Dubai.
- I had preconceived ideas about Dubai. Having seen Sharjah a couple of weeks ago, I had expected Dubai (only 10km from Sharjah) to be drab, overcrowded, boring, and dusty dirty unkempt. I was only right about the traffic congestion (Level of Service F+). But the city is booming with modern skyscrapers and amazing urban growth. From a planner's point of view, it's a nightmare (albeit a professional challenge).
- Our Indian driver always took advantage of fast stretches of highway. Despite the massive jam, there were still pockets of freeflow highway. It was typical to travel at speeds beyond 160kmph. Yes, even old rickety passenger buses from the suburbs.
- Visited the dhow wharves in the evening after a 2.5 hour jam. Surreal. Old fashioned trading boats in a big city.
- I reckon I saw a few moneychangers in Deira that were run by chinese. Hmmm.......
- Ate dinner at Karachi Darbar. We each had one roti and we were stuffed. Our driver said the Pakistanis usually eat 4-5 rotis at one go!
- Thousands of Indians here. All seem to be in the mood for Diwali, but the UAE does not have a holiday for them. It's heartwarming to see them celebrate despite their very low wages and distance away from their families in India. Our driver from Kerala is not different. We made sure he ate with us to celebrate Diwali too. Might give him a small angpow later, in the spirit of the season.
- Hotel gym was boring. There was a weighing scale and it was a Beurer. I smiled.
- Construction, construction, construction. Dubai is booming like nobodys' business! You turn your head left, you turn your head right, you look up: it's all construction. If it's not buildings, it'll be roads. Picture above epitomises the current scenery now: Burj Dubai Towers will be the tallest building in the world when it's built. Next to it is the world's largest retail mall - the Dubai Mall. I worked on the car park design about 4 years ago and now I'm seeing Dubai Mall being built. There's a sense of awe and a sense of pride.
Join Me for Next Training
New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.