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May 12, 2010

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                    Dubai

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I'm in the middle of writing about my recent trip to the Middle East; this week we're in Dubai. Join me to find out whether everything you've heard about this city is true. For a little preview, check out this video of me skiing in one of their megamalls. I never, ever thought I (or anyone) would ski in the deserts of the Middle East. Did you?

I left off from the United Arab Emirates' newest and plushest resort, Qasr Al Sarab (did you see my story and Desert Dune Safari video?). From there I drove back to the Abu Dhabi airport (AUH), but instead of getting on another Etihad Airways dream flight like the one I took to get here, I was meeting one of the drivers from Dubai's Downtown Address Hotel. They spoil their guests by picking them up in brand-new 7 series BMWs with seat-back TVs and pass out chilled towels and bottled water. FYI: Both drives took about 90 minutes.

I took a bathroom break in the AUH airport. I think it's important to note that the men's bathroom there is by far the cleanest restroom I've ever been in. They have an attendant wiping down the place after each use and I would've been comfortable eating in there or walking around barefoot. Why can't other airports, or restaurants for that matter, do the same?

I was so pumped to be headed to Dubai for the first time, as I have always felt a travel void for not having been there. Now, when people ask me questions about it (which they always do), I can speak with confidence. Driving up there was smooth; the highways are similar to the United States. I was expecting horrendous traffic jams, but I didn't see anything to come even close to the nightmarish congestion of Los Angeles or Toronto. It's probably because in September 2009 Dubai opened up some of the lines on their new US$3.89 billion metro system. Much of it is still under construction and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2014.

Even from the highway it was thrilling to see the Burj Arab (website), the self-proclaimed seven-star hotel with a sail design. I later got a closer look at Dubai's most iconic building. That honor probably won't last much longer, though, with the opening of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and I can't say I'm that upset about it, because the Burj Arab isn't very visitor friendly: Nonguests have to pay US$80 just to cross the bridge (it's on a man-made island) to tour it. I guess I can't blame them, since otherwise the place would be flooded with tourists-including me-and what guest spending US$3,000 a night wants that kind disturbance? TIP: If you do want to see the Burj Arab, I heard that if you make dinner reservations they will put the entrance fee towards your bill.

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Pictures From

The Trip


AUH Airport


Address Hotel Driver


Drive To Dubai


Streets of Dubai


Dubai Metro


Burj Arab From Street


Burj Arab Up Close


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Amy L. Scott
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