Mittwoch, 30. März 2011

The Travelogue, Part XI - Intermezzo: Dubai

As my ticket allowed me to fly into, but not out of, Iran, I had to fly via Dubai. Thanks to Star Alliance messing up my booking I had only one day to marvel at this extravagant city, but it has left some impressions none the less.

A fitting represantation: Faceless and vaguely islamic
I was expecting giant scyscrapers, oversized malls and and awe-inspiring architecture. While this is pretty much what I got, it left little worth remembering. While Dubai does please, it fails to impress. After long thoughts, I have concluded that it is the lack of context that takes the edge out of its grandeur and splendour, and left me with an eerie feeling of surreality. Often I felt like I had to knock on the surrounding buildings, to see if they are not props of some elaborate theatre play and would fall apart if only touched. The desert encroaching from all sides, reminding you that this is a barren place where humans should not flourish, makes the city even more surreal; an opulent mirage that should not have a physical body. Its oversized architecture and constant display of wasted wealth made me feel like I was indeed visiting an adult theme park, which is pretty much what Dubai is: a Disneyland for grown-ups, complete with tacky replicas of traditional Arabian buildings. Possibilities for entertainment seem boundless (although some of them are kept rather private), from indoor skiing to shopping frenzies, but if you cannot afford them, Dubai (and its surroundings) are a pretty dreary place. Not far from the glamour of the Burj Dubai and the Marina, in rows and rows of slums and grey apartment blocks live the many Asians and Africans that provide the city with cheap labour,breaking the illusion of the clean and prosperous city that is so often presented.

Right behind the city: slums and desert

When I got on the plane, I was somewhat happy to leave this city of greed (and believe me, it's prevalent in all people you meet) and dust behind, and I can't think of a particularly good reason to return.

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