My blog on Dubai a few months back inspired him to book a seven-day stay in December. I tried to talk him down to three—wouldn’t want anyone to take my travel tip and then be bored—but he persisted.
You see, his travel style is different from mine. While I go off in search of natural phenomena, interesting cultures, and history, he seeks the future. He’s not looking for what the human spirit has already endured or created, he’s looking for what the human spirit can and will do.
While I found Dubai, the city of world records, a bit crass and obnoxious, he found this Emirate fascinating, like escaping into tomorrow. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, was not only amazing from the observation tower inside, but inspirational when viewed from the deck of the Dubai Creek Gulf and Yacht Club. His wife loved the world’s most visited mall, and his daughters enjoyed the world’s coolest water park, Atlantis Dubai, located on a manmade island, the Palms, itself an amazing feat of geological engineering.
While his jaunt to the desert to view historic Bedouin culture was mildly interesting, his day trip to Abu Dhabi blew him away. The capital of the United Arab Emirates has decided to catch up to its neighboring Emirate, Dubai. It is building “one of the most remarkable art and culture projects in the world” (Anthony Shadid, New York Times). This museum complex on Saadiyat Island will house a branch of the Guggenheim and of the Louvre as well as a national museum. And according to my reader’s tour guide, Abu Dhabi has a thirty-year contract with the Louvre to support exhibits.
That same day, my reader visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the most opulent in the Emirates. But the highlight of Abu Dhabi was Ferrari World, the largest indoor theme park and the first one based on the Ferrari. Not only did he get to see the Ferrari of the future but he also rode a Ferrari-shaped roller coaster—which is, of course, the fastest coaster in the world.
So what have I learned from this reader. Any place can be fascinating if you approach it with the right attitude. Because Dubai is so new and so barren, I wrote it off for lack of history and natural wonders. But coping with that geography is what now makes it so special. Had I looked harder, I would have learned a lot more.
My reader and his family are eager to return to the UAE for the opening of the museum complex . Maybe I, too, should pencil that 2017 date on to my calendar. You see, I'm already looking to the future! Thanks to all my readers for their feedback.