To me there is a strange feel about Dubai. It's growing fast, very fast. Just 6 years ago it was a small city, now is big and getting bigger. There are 700,000 construction workers in the city and in reality it is little more than a very big building site. Only 4% of the population originate from here and water consumption in nearby Abu Dahbi is 500 litres per person per day. That is hardly surprising as they are changing the desert into lush green grass and beds of flowers. Dubai has a 7 star hotel, the most expensive in the world (first photo) and some 35 indoor shopping malls, all air-conditioned, as is the case with every building we have been in. One of the malls we visited even has a ski slope. The place reminds me of the computer game Sim City as a futuristic city is being built and in 15 years or so it will be an amazing place. In some of the malls there are large models of areas of the city that are currently under construction. They are seriously impressive with no expense spared with islands linked together by bridges carrying 6 laned road and metro trains. There are a number of islands being constructed in the sea, one the shape of a palm tree, another in the shape of a map of the world. The oil funding it all will run out in 20 years times and the idea is to have it finished by then and use the place as a commercial centre and for tourism. It's a spend spend spend economy as there is no tax here, but apparently people are not well off and spending is all on credit. Frankly I will be glad to leave the place.
Today I have been to the dentist and had a broken tooth repaired so I am giving it 24hrs before I move on. I think it will only take me a day to cross the Emirates and on Friday I will be in Oman, where I get the impression that things are a little more traditional. The population of Oman is only slightly more than the population of Dubai alone.
Tonight will be my 7th night at the Youth Hostel and it has been a sociable time with a mixed bag of people young and old, backpackers, people looking for jobs, others in full time education etc etc. There has been a mixed bag in our room of 5 too, Germans, An Aussie, a Pakistani and an Egyptian who we have named Russell for his ability to come in late every night from shopping and make an incredible noise with plastic bags. Last night it was 2am, the lights went on full and the rustling started and he quickly woke all of us. I complained to him and there was instantly silence. This afternoon while I was in the room hae came back and rustled non stop for 1 1/4 hrs whilst he kept apologising for last night.
The bird life here has been good and varied and the Hoopoo (photo) came and joined us in the city centre and wasn't the slightest bit bothered as we followed it around with a camera, sometimes no more than 3 feet away.
Judith and Andre left for Sharjar airport this afternoon and a flight to Ahmadabad in India. My latest plan it to cycle to Muscat in Oman, about 600km along the desert road, then take a flight to Ahmadabad, then hopefully catch up with J & A in about 3 weeks time as they will spend more time in the towns and the National Parks than I will. Of course they may take the opportunity to put as much distance as possible between them and me. I had intended to head up the east side of Pakistan, but that doesnt seem a good idea any more given the current crisis that is going on there.