The United Arab Emirates and the “Ghost Town”

 

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. / Abu Dhabi, a cidade capital dos Emirados Árabes Unidos.
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

The seventh destination of my 30 day adventure in Asia! This city has been considered by CNN and the Fortune Magazine as one of the richest cites of the world. Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, is the capital city and second most populous city of that country. The most populous there is Dubai. A curious fact is the translation of the word Abu Dhabi, means Father of the Deer. The origin of that name is still uncertain, but, possibly, it is due to the fact of the existence of a few deer that used to live in the emirate. This time I traveled from Seul, in South Korea, to the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Currently, Abu Dhabi has got the airport base for the Etihad airline, but it is already too small and busy, so they are building a new one next to it. To be able to see the stunning design of that airport as soon as I arrived, gave a good idea of what to expect. I stayed at an island called Yas, artificial, a project budgeted in 40 billion dollars, place to huge architectural buildings like the wonderful five star hotel Viceroy, the first one to be built on a Formula 1 circuit. And it wasn’t just that hotel I could spot from the hotel floor I was staying at. Other “insane” magnificent project I could see was the Ferrari World.

At the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. / No Mundo Ferrari em Abu Dhabi.
At the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.

That amusement park I was crazy to see, the main reason being its peculiar roof design, painted in Ferrari red, with a singular shape and the yellow shield on top. And it was around there I started to notice how “ghost” that city was. Wide avenues, huge shopping centers with large corridors, parks, plazas, and several other places, empty! You look around as you walk and most of the time you see nobody. But hey, you know why? That city is ready for the future. The investments in infra structure to big residential complexes, are accelerated to receive a population who doesn’t know they will live there. That ghost sensation is almost imperceptible in downtown Abu Dhabi though, there, there are lots of tourists everywhere, beautiful places to visit, outstanding safety and a lot of heat. And, it was winter! I don’t suggest you to visit that region on summer. Among so many amazing other buildings, I always wanted to see close and personal, the Etihad Towers. Five towers that are, one for offices, and the other ones for residential living and a hotel. You should remember that complex of buildings from the movie “The Fast and Furious 7”.

The Zayed National Museum. Stop by on my way to Dubai. / O Museu Nacional Zayed. Parada no caminho até Dubai.
The Zayed National Museum. Stop by on my way to Dubai. 

The United Arab Emirates and the “Insane”

 

burj khalifa
Top of the World! 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. Tallest building in the world.

The most populous city among the seven emirates belonging to this country is also the 20th most expensive city to live. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, exploded in growth after they found out, in 1966, their huge petroleum reservoirs. Nowadays though, only 5% of its income comes from that commodity. The main sources of its income come from tourism, aviation, real estate and financial transactions. Local population accounts approximately 2.250.000 people, almost 75% are men, yes, only 25% are women. Of those more than 2 million people, only 10 and 15% are born in the United Arab Emirates, the largest portion is of asian descendants, coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, a smaller portion from Somalia and yet a number or 100.000 british expatriates, the largest one in the city.  

IMG_7053
Sunset at the Burj Al Arab, considered only 7 stars hotel in the world.

Arabian is the official language, but english is widely spoken, also described as an official language over there. Now, let’s talk about what interests us more, I got to Dubai after spending a few days in South Korea where I was surrounded by the most ancient architecture I have ever seen. Brazilians, among other nationalities have to pay for a visa do the UAE, and it ain’t cheap. I spent about 100 dollars for a 96h visa. Anyway, Dubai, architecturally speaking, is giant! I took a bus from the airport in Abu Dhabi, neighbor city, to a bus station in Dubai and then walked to the train station. On my way from the bus station to the train station, the impression I had was “I’m in the country of the future”, the architecture is extremely futuristic sitting in the dry landscapes that are around, like nowhere else I’ve been. Extremely modern transportation systems all around, materials and shapes applied in large scale! But don’t you get mistaken, the trains were also full of people, and it wasn’t the rush hour. In Dubai you can find one of the richest collections of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. Modern interpretations of the Islamic architecture – very tradicional there. The Burj Al Arab, the one and only 7 stars hotel in the world. This is that one in a sail shape. There’s also the Burj Khalifa, the highest manmade building and also structure ever. These two are the two biggest examples of the architectural “insanity” they have there. Telling you more about the Burj Khalifa, this is by far the highest ever built building in the world, 828 meter high, 163 floors. The twin towers in the USA were 110 floors high and the tallest building in Brazil, 177,3 meters high, 52 floors, is the Millennium Palace building in Balneário Camboriú. Anyway, I went to see the Burj Khalifa from up close, its largest portion is residential, and did not disappointed me. Surrounded by many other amazing buildings, a large shopping center, plazas and an artificial lake with a water fountain of 217 million dollars, just wonderful! I went up to the 124th floor where there’s the world’s highest observation deck outdoors. And the views did not disappointed me. Among the desert and the perfection architectural of Dubai, which seen from that hight seems to have been laser drawn, the other buildings around seem to be toys, how small they become. There is a possibility to go up to the 148th floor, although it costs something like 100 dollars more than I paid and satisfied me from there, 452 meters high. But hey, this is just one of the big samples you can find there. Artificial islands shaped like palm trees, or the globe, the world’s largest residential complex, the police driving Porsche cars, bus stops equipped with air condition system, several outstanding mosques, so very much interesting, monorail trains, amazing restaurants beautifully located, options of everything and all of the best, this is Dubai, artificial and fantastic! Oh! Don’t you forget to try the famous combination of dried dates with arabian coffee you find everywhere, even at the hotel you will be staying at. You know, there are over 300 kinds of dates in the world, at least 30 of them you can find in Dubai. 

Down the foot of the Burj Khalifa. Tallest building in the world. / Aos pés do Burj Khalifa. O prédio mais alto do mundo.
Down the foot of the Burj Khalifa. Tallest building in the world.