Discovering Dubai, U.A.E
Dubai, U.A.E. It was around 6 am local time when I lugged my backpack off of the conveyor belt. After readjusting the many straps from their “flight position” of knots and loops, I walked outside through the automatic doors toward the swarm of taxis and rolling suitcases. I resisted the urge to cough as I took my first breath of the 100 degree air. How do people do this everyday? I thought to myself as sweat began to form on my brow almost immediately. It was only 6am, I couldn’t imagine what it was like in the sun at midday. I decided to hail a cab before I would have to find out.
I pulled out my pocket sized moleskine as the driver eagerly loaded my pack and smaller backpack into the rear of the tan minivan. I read “Jumeirah Beach Residence” from the notes I took from Alana’s email. Not really sure how to pronounce “Jumeirah.” I watched the buildings and enclosed walkways pass by as the taxi weaved in and out of traffic. The ride reminded me of a fuzzy memory of driving into Disney World as a child. The architecture was spectacular, almost unreal. The city was a post-modern metropolis of twisting steel frames, swooping curves, and glass facades that were as much works of art as they were practical buildings. I impulsively scanned the air for flying cars but never did seem to spot one.
75 AED (approx. $20 US) and about 20 minutes later I stood in the basement parking deck of building three in the Murjan apartment complex. I reached the 21st floor, found apartment 21001, and quietly opened the door. I assumed that Alana (my mom’s friend’s daughter who I had only exchanged e-mails with) had given me directions to her place where I would sleep on the floor or couch. I looked around the apartment as I set my pack on the floor. It was a nice little studio apartment with hardwood floors, a granite counter top in the kitchen, a clean bathroom, and its own balcony. There was a note from Alana on the kitchen counter with a key resting on top of it. “I hope you found the apartment alright, a friend of mine is out of town for the summer and he offered his place when I told him I had a guest coming in town. So the flat is all yours while you’re here!” What a nice surprise! I had my own apartment for my six nights in Dubai. The beach was a five minute walk, I could see one of the palm islands, the Palm Jumeirah, tons of places to eat nearby, a stocked fridge, comfortable bed – I couldn’t believe my luck. And that wasn’t even close to the end of my unexpected good fortune and the amazing hospitality I experienced during my stay in Dubai.