Dubai rises out of the desert, all tallest, newest, richest, biggest and most expensives.
The worlds tallest building. The Most expensive hotel. The Newest city. The Largest shopping centre.
Who wants to discover that the worlds tallest building is really tall? Or that you can shop in a place with lots of shops? Or spending lots of money on a 7-star hotel provides amazing service?
Dubai excels in superlatives, but fails with surprises. But thats how its meant to be - safe, ordered and predictable. Every shop is a western brand, Starbucks on every corner, Gap clothes in the shops.Price is the only measure here. Hotel ratings used to only reach 5 stars, so Dubai invented the $20,000-a-night 7th star, cleverly leaving out the 6th star.Quality here is not measured by that undefinable quality we actually use in the West, cool. Dubai only wants the best of the west. You can't taste any authentic arabic food here, but you can eat in a Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsey restaurant at the Hilton.
But surprises do appear.
Muslim law rules here and Dubai is a 'dry' city. Luckily for a crashpacker, hotels are allowed to sell booze.Unsurprisingly, there are lots of hotels here.
Friday is a day off and the local tradition is to go to a hotel for brunch, an all-day affair with fantastic food from all over the world, non-stop top ups of champagne and very alcoholic cocktails, with views over the harbour full of super-yachts.At about 80 US dollars a head, its not cheap, but its surprisingly easy to get completely drunk as our Indian waiters filled our clean crystal glasses with wide smiles on their faces.I'm in an dry Muslim state but i'm drinking French champagne and we're scoffing non-halal lobster.
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