Reflections of Dubai ....
Its big, shiny and new. Maybe the last of the "new" great cities. Ideally located as a gateway to the Middle East and beyond. Lot of money thrown at this place and it shows. It's a city of the future and baring any changes (which could happen) in terms of the rulers philosophy (benevolent monarch), this place will be around for many years to
come. Along with Shanghai, Dubai could make London look like a quaint village in the next ten years.
A fantastic place for the glitz and glamour (ie if you have money)- (Porsches lexus bentleys were the norm on the roads) Harder if you don't. However, you do get the sense this is a land of opportunity - a bit like the Wild West with a lot of money to be made. Huge enticements to come (no income tax, VAT, corporations tax etc).
A real mix of people - lots of middle class Indians, alongside wealthy Russians, some Americans and English, Chinese and Eastern Europeans. The "workers" are a mix of working class Indians, maybe Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Africans. Generally friendly and helpful but not quite there in terms of customer service at times. One of the things we did find frustrating was the lack of decent signage anywhere - even in the malls a few times it was "where the hell is the exit?"
It is a slightly alien place - seeing the signs written in Arabic did make me nervous and the "callings" to the mosque 5 times a day. On the surface it's a western city, but underneath lots of other things are going on and we were always a bit wary of local customs. At times you do catch some of the natives looking at you but it is as safe a city as I have come across.
It is a city of contradictions - and it is fascinating to see how the rulers have managed this without breaching Islamic protocol. As is usually the case, it's a bit of a fudge. They still "need" the West for the time being ... Wonder what it will be like in 20 years? ......
I'm wording this very carefully as quite a lot of "monitoring" goes on I suspect. That in itself says something.
Overall, we liked it - new experience, great weather, things to do, etc and we will be back. We missed the "friday brunch institution" were you pay a fixed price for endless champers and food and ladies night on tuesdays with free drinks for the ladies. Dubai may well be our preferred winter destination in future ....