Dubai Day 1: Malls, Towers, and Wow

Thursday was our first full day in Dubai, and it involved a lot of walking. The main airport, the air show (a moot point, since it was cancelled), two giant malls, the Burj Khalifa, dinner, and then drinks – all part of the fun in this amazing place – until the end when I nearly began to fall asleep standing up. Jetlag’s…jetlag.

Wednesday night, Matt realized he left his jacket at the coffee shop at the airport when we arrived. Further showing just how friendly the people of Dubai are, they went out of their way to hold on to the jacket until Matt and I arrived to pick it up the next morning.

Getting there was half the fun, though – since our friend Kinan picked us up at the airport when we arrived, this would be our first jaunt onto the Dubai Metro – and wow, it’s immaculate. Well-run and easy to use, the trains run about every 3 minutes in each direction. Unfortunately, the airport is 20 stops away from our hotel, which meant we were standing in the train for about an hour, crammed full of people (I can’t imagine how crowded it would be if the trains ran every 6 minutes!).

After leaving the airport, we headed to the Fairmont, where we knew we could catch a shuttlebus to the air show, which ran every two hours. The bus took us east of Dubai and somewhat into the desert (which really isn’t hard to do).

It was a beautiful drive – we saw camels and beautiful wide views of Dubai from farther away – views that you don’t normally see while you’re in the city itself.


But then when we arrived about 45 minutes later, we quickly came to the realization that the air show had been canceled because of the rains, and that the trek out to Al Maktoum Airport (a new airport, built for the airshow and eventually for regular commercial air travel) was somewhat in vain.

This was what we got for an airshow:


As it turned out, water from the rains had entered the exhibition hall and shorted out the electrical equipment, causing the power for the entire show to go out. Rather than risking our safety, they shut the airshow down on the last day – our only day.

We quickly headed back to the hotel to change out of our dress clothes and into more comfortable clothes, and hit the streets – we headed first to Emirates Mall — that mall with the indoor ski slope called Ski Dubai.

Eventually, we meet up with Kinan again and grab some lunch before exploring the rest of the mall, which I originally thought was “the big mall” – turns out, Mall of the Emirates is the smaller one at 2.4 million square feet (Mall of America in Minneapolis is 2.5 million).

We kept on, and headed towards the Burj Khalifa, which is located just adjacent to Dubai Mall, which is officially the largest shopping mall in the world at 5.4 million square feet – equivalent to 50 football fields in length. Did I mention it has an ice skating rink?


This. Is. The. Directory. Wow.



Wow. It’s got its own aquarium, a movie theater, and more than 1,200 stores. Yeah…1,200. At one point, one of the stores inside even had an ATM that dispensed gold. It’s no longer there (we asked), but just goes to show the opulence of this place.


Taking a quick break, we sat down for some coffee, and had both Turkish and Arabian coffee – which hit the spot since jet lag was starting to kick in a little (3pm Dubai time is 3am on the U.S. west coast – you do the math).

Arabic coffee is delicious. It’s also called qahwah (kaa-wah), and has cardamom in it. To be honest, it’s a more like tea than like coffee, but it packs the same punch and is delicious. Served in a special coffee pot called a dallah (da-lah) with dates, it really hit the spot.

Turkish coffee is incredibly strong and somewhat thick, primarily because it’s served from a pot with the coffee grounds inside. It comes with a glass of ice cold water – just in case you get some of the coffee grounds in your mouth and need a rinse.

Walking around more of the mall, we headed outside to check out the Burj Khalifa – and it really is huge. We walked around the premises, and eventually in time for the water show, which is much like the water show at Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel, except, in the style of Dubai, bigger and better!



Eventually coming to the conclusion we were exhausted, we headed back to the hotel to change once again, and to meet Kinan’s friend for dinner at a fancy restaurant called Toro Toro – and finished the evening with an adult beverage just down the sidewalk at a place called Buddha Bar. I wish I took photos because the place was pretty phenomenal, but it was dark and photos were hard to get – but after visiting a Dubai bar, it makes me appreciate the no-smoking laws we’re afforded in California and much of the U.S.

At some point, however, I was done – I couldn’t beat jetlag any more, and it was time for bed:


Our day – almost 18 hours – was done.