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Dubai city sights 2 (Emirates Mall, Festival city, Gold Souks & Sikkat Al Khail Road)

Another train in the station

There are many modes of transport around Dubai, with the usual bus, trains and taxis, with the latter being my personal favorite due to the sheer number of them on the streets. You can never get along walking along the streets without a taxi finding you in less than a minute. And mind you, the taxis here are all licensed and professional with English speaking drivers, much to my delight in knowing the city through the eyes of a local taxi driver- which is as good as it can get as having a local tour guide without the bells and whistles.

A taxi ride around town will set you back about 6-8 Dirhams which the most translates to about a buck or two. The use of the car is excessive here in Dubai, mainly attributed to the low fuel prices here. Cars are all large gas guzzlers and petrol is dirt cheap here, in fact motorists even get free fuel at the pumps once a week. There are no stinging on the engine capacities of cars here, even the taxis here all spot large V6 or V8 engines to get you around town with speed too. Unremarkably the UAE is also one of the largest contributor to greenhouse gases worldwide, so it’s good to see improvements into the use of the mass rapid rail to tad lighten emissions by a considerable amount.

Various Yachts zooming by the waterside
waterside Yachts
The Mall of the Emirates!
Mall of the Emirates
Yes, a ski resort in the desert!
Ski Dubai

There never seem to be a shortage of Marinas and expensive yachts in the area, particularly on the beach fronts. Here you have an assortment of small to large boats, some even large enough to house a boat party in the excess of 100 occupants on the upper decks itself, reiterating the posh luxurious setting this part of the city thrives on.

Not too far off the beach line is the Mall of the Emirates. The mall is one of the only few stops on the metro line which actually stops right beside it’s announced destination or station name, with the worst being the Dubai mall station, with the metro nearly a kilometer walk from the mall itself. In typical Dubai tradition, there seem to be an obsessive tradition of having the “biggest”. The Emirates mall used to be the biggest shopping mall in the world, till the Dubai mall was completed. Now it will just have to settle for being the 2nd largest in the world.

Talking about Arabian, Arab food!
Arab food
The mall galleries
The mall galleries

Thankfully, the Emirates mall is largely catered to the masses, with many affordable goods on sale together with the high end boutique ones. The mall spans 2-3 floors with basements, but what makes up for it’s size is it’s huge horizontal floor area, it does take quite abit to navigate the whole mall, with some many different stores coming at you before eventually making a full loop. It is not surprising for first timers to get lost in the mall, but thankfully mall maps and directories are all at easy access throughout the mall. The local food courts serve affordable, including local Arabian food with a western fast food twist which I come to love and enjoy.

complete with boutique stalls
boutique stalls
An atrium in the Emirates mall
Emirates mall atrium
The mall central fountain
Mall central fountain

In addition, any visitor not used to the flair or Arabian food can still find themselves at home with large assortments of western fast food franchises in town, such as subway, McDonalds and burger king, just to name afew. Dubai is not in any way different from it as at home. Moreover, the thing which makes most malls here in Dubai unique is it not being “just a mall” is the presence of rather interesting attractions, this one doesn’t disappoint, how about a whole snow resort in the desert for starters?

Shaun + snowboard can only mean...
Shaun + snowboard
Complete with a full ski slope!
full ski slope!
and it's own ski lift too!
ski lift too!

yep, while snow in the desert is unreal, Dubai is also a city where the saying goes, if it’s crazy enough, why not make it even more crazy? The Emirates mall is also home to the world’s largest indoor ski slope complete with it’s own ski lift, 90-metre-long quarter pipe for snowboarders and a ski slope with a starting elevation 200 ft high at the peak. The ski Dubai is themed to a typical “log style” ski resort decked out with suiting areas just past the ticketing areas, getting you into the artificial snow in no longer than 10 minutes past the entrances

including many tall ones
Burj Khalifa
With it's own Ferrari store. :P
A Ferrari store!
The mall main atrium
Festival city mall

As it looks, almost everything is Dubai is almost all about shopping and spending, that’s how it brands itself as a tourist hub in the UAE in competition with Adu Dhabi. You can see the region diversifying away from it’s primary oil income into business, renewables and entertainment around the city, branding itself as a lavish tourist getaway and shopper’s paradise. The Festival city mall is another mall by the just across the Dubai Business bay Garhoud Bridge and not surprisingly, home to world’s largest Ferrari merchandise store.

Festival city water walk
Enjoying the sunset
marina sunset
Hitting the underground metro
Hitting the underground metro

The festival city and mall is home to a bowling alley together with arcades and a LAN gaming center, a marina flaunts the center’s exterior offering a boat-eyed view of the business bay. A dysfunct amusement center sits just outside the shopping area, which could had seen better days than today. Nonetheless, the festival mall, like the Emirates mall is relatively packed for a weekday and seems to be more popular with the local children, given it’s proximity to the residential areas in the north. The mall sells itself more as a family mall, with stores retailing on an average price point.

More on the Dubai metro, the underground system is new, having opened just about 2010 with most lines operational in 2011. The lines are sub-subterranean, with it mostly underground up north, and transitioning to viaducts by the BurJuman Center after the Khalif Bin Al Waleed station, where it goes on overhead along the Sheikh Zayed Road.

Meat from the slab is apparently very popular here
Popular meat from the slab
But otherwise still traditional Dhows here
traditional Dhows
Technology changing with the times
bits of technology

No visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to the less showy places in town. These are the places where you can truly see Dubai at the heart with the locals. And so what other better way to experience Dubai by the union square and creek area. These less affluent areas are surprisingly in contrast to the lavish parts of the city, which paints the very large income gap between the wealthy and the working class here in Dubai. This is the part of the city which actually makes the place tick, gone are the large mansions, palaces and residences spanning over football fields. Here street hawkers deck out the streets at night with gyros and meat served from the slabs in the open, apparently a delicacy here. The creek areas are buzzing with loading and unloading Dhows (boats) sailing to and from Persian gulf, with lots of Arabic produce and goods seen by the creek side, in a typical merchant style dock setting.

The spice souk
The spice souk
which can snake on for ages!
the long souk walkways
Powdered spices, sold in100 grams
got spice?

Several traditional cloth and spice souks line the northern areas of the city, souks meaning markets in Arabian. Some areas of the souks can be rather touristy and it pays to avoid these tourist traps in place for the more authentic spice and cloth souks further in-town. Here, you can have a try of the various spice flavoured tidbits and Arabic desserts alike and I don’t know spices here comes in all sort of colours and combinations just like that in India! A good time to visit the souks will be in the day where the place will be buzzing with merchants selling their wares all displayed openly for all to see. The night time however, is the best time to check out the Gold souks in town.

Various cloth on display
textiles on display
No wonder, it's the Gold souk!
Gold souk!
You can get rather good buys on local products here
good buys on local products

Littered in a glittery of gold and white, the gold souk is one of the only places in the world where you can see near countless lines of jewellery shops lined back to back with nothing but spotlighted shiny gold on the displays. The place simply just glows on it’s own aura, in stark contrast to spice and textile souks across the creek. The area is also a popular electronics and arabian ware district with bargain stores littered all around town and on the streets often seen packed as a hangout for immigrant workers and locals alike.

Nothing beats experiencing Dubai just like how the locals do
the local life
Extremely popular with the locals
popular with the locals
Roads lined with street markets

The streets here literally come to life with people here at night, road side hawkers decking the streets packed with tables and chairs during dinner time. There is quite a variety of food options here, namely the traditional meaty Arabic ones, with meat mainly off the roasted slab. The old town place offers very good cheap hawker food for the buck at every turn, in stark contrast to the posh restaurants in expensive downtown Dubai.


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