It’s Friday today and the equivalent of Sunday in the western world. As a result many of the local places such as museums, markets and government centres are closed. We wondered whether we might find enough to do but as it turned out, we had an easy and relatively full day.
We had booked a ticket on-line to the Burj Khalifa tower for the 10.30 time slot. The Burj khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world and has an observation floor on the the 124th level. It provides outstanding views across Dubai and the surrounding desert area. It’s a pity that on some days the environment here is very hazy anmd visibility from the tower is quite limited. This is a natural phenomenon and mostly caused by moisture from the sea causing a light fog or haze in the intense heat. We booked early in the day hoping that the air would be a little clearer. It was just as well that we booked in advance as when exchanging our voucher for tickets, the screen at the counter was showing that every half hour session for today and tomorrow was fully booked out.
The Burj Khalifa was designed by an American architect, Adrian Smith, to be the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that would include 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 3 hectares of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. There is a stunning fountain that plays every half hour after 6.00 pm. The tower is the tallest existing structure in the world at 829.8 metres. It has 163 floors and rises above Dubai like a long thin pencil. Its design is derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture and it takes the form of a spiralling minaret that grows more slender as it rises. We spent about 90 minutes looking at the surrounding view and the architecture of the tower.
For the rest of the day, we wandered around the adjoining Dubai Mall – the biggest shopping centre in the world. We were there for about four hours and in all that time, we only really managed to see the first floor and had a short venture to the second level. We did not see any of the shops on the third and fourth levels. As in the rest of tis city, the mall has some incredible architecture and some very large establishments. The gigantic aquarium has a perspex wall that is 51 metres long and 11 metres high. It houses over 30,000 fish.
A long waterfall, 24 metres high in another part of the mall, is ornamented with statues of diving people. The water is recycled and the twin 30 metre diameter falls act as a gateway to a number of restaurants in the mall.
High atriums throughout the building provide a sense of space and apart from shopping, you can go ice skating, pray at the mosque and eat yourself to death at any of its many restaurants. One of the large stores on the second level was the Kinokuniya Book store. Without doubt, it is the largest book store I have ever seen. It has over 500,000 titles and occupies 68,000 square feet of retail space. It takes 100 staff a full two days to complete a stocktake!
For some of the time, we just sat and did a bit of people watching. There were people from many parts of the world who were dressed in all sorts of fashions. Conspicuously absent were any Bogans in tracksuit pants and thongs. It was fun to imagine what some of the local women might have been wearing under their long burkas. Women here dress in black while the men wear white robes. I understand for the women, that this form of dress provides modesty and keeps them hidden from leering male eyes. However, some of the more liberal women, the ones whose faces were exposed, wore makeup and often looked very attractive. It seemed to defeat the purpose of hiding their beauty from prying eyes.
It was little cooler today – only 38 degrees. We could have caught the train to the tower and the mall, but the taxi only cost about $3 for a ten minute ride and was easier and faster. Tonight we have dinner booked in a floating restaurant on the Dubai Creek. We don’t want to back at the hotel too late as we need to be up at 4.00 am to get to the airport in time for a 7.25 am flight to our next destination.