It was September when my boyfriend and I had a one day stopover in Dubai. We flew throughout the night and arrived at 5.30 am. It was sunny outside and the temperature was already 30 degrees Celsius. For a cold-blooded person like me this temperature sounded wonderful. You won’t hear me complaining…., I thought……
Walking? No Way!
A friend of me told me that you cannot walk in Dubai. Although my friend lived in Dubai for several years, I could not imagine that everybody would take a cap after the ride in the metro. I love to explore cities by walk, taking excited narrow streets where a cap never goes and take time to enjoy the surroundings at your own pace instead of being annoyed when you get caught in a traffic jam.
We took the red metro to Mall of Emirates station 2. My friend gave me some recommendations of where to go and what to do. While eating a delicious Subway sandwich we enjoyed the weather and the view at the metro station, the Burj Khalifa and the Mall of Emirates with its indoor ski slope. From there we started to walk to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. We walked on the sidewalk and used traffic lights to cross roads. I wonder why this city has a sidewalk and traffic lights for pedestrians if nobody walks here. But my friend was right; nobody was walking here. The big sidewalks were completely ours. Who knows were we the first ones that made use of these.
From nice to hot & sticky
The temperature went up. Although the stores at the souk were still closed, we could enter the souk to cool down. I was glad to have some shelter for the sun. We had to wait one hour before the stores opened their doors (10 am) and decided to first visit the Burj al Arab which is at a short distance from the Souk. As soon as we left the building, the heat was starting to go up. My body heated up and I felt the first drop of sweat, a strange feeling for a cold-natured person as I am.
We walked slowly to the Burj al Arab and at a slow pace we returned to the souk. We became slower and slower and started to get hot and sticky. As soon as we arrived at the souk we flew to a coffee shop and grap some drinks. I was so thirsty that my drink disappeared in no time.
After quenching our thirst we walked through the Arabic style market place of Souk Madinat Jumeirah. The architectural design of the building is gorgeous. There are a number of nice shops, offering traditional Arabic items, furniture, souvenirs, fashion and jewelry and restaurants. Moreover, the scenic view from outside of a man-made, beautiful blue waterway with abras (water taxis), transferring people to different places, is impressive. From here we also had a great view of the Burj al Arab. Despite the pleasing view and the picturesque architecture, I expected the souk to have more of an Arabic ambience and to be less touristic. Although we rarely saw any tourist at the time we visited the souk, it was like the souk has been made to attract tourists.
Surviving the hot-weather
After visiting the souk we took the bus to the nearest metro station to go to Dubai Marina Station. There we continued our walk. Although my friend told me that no one is walking in Dubai, I had read about “a nice walk”, “a nice stroll” and “public walkways” at Marina Bay. I thought walking at Marina Bay may be the best idea to explore the harbor and the many skyscrapers. And indeed we had great views at the harbor and the high buildings, but hot weather makes thirsty and so, we were searching for a restaurant, bar or supermarket along the way. Every time when we saw a restaurant or bar, there was a sign telling us that this restaurant is “coming soon”. When we were really dying for a drink, we decided to return to the metro station, but still looking at our left and right in the hope to find a drinking spot. What we saw, was all coming soon, but suddenly just like an oasis in a desert, there was a Bagels & More, an American cafe / lunchroom! Usually we should have gone to an Arabic style restaurant, but this time we didn’t care as long as they serve water or any other drinks. We could choose to sit inside or outside. There were several tables taken inside, but outside was nobody, except for…..us… Since we looked quite sweaty, we might be a bit smelly, so we played safe and prevent people from escaping or gasping, in case it was so bad…
A habit is difficult to change
We enjoyed our lunch and the cans of ice tea, before continuing our sightseeing trip. But after a 15 km walk we lacked the energy to go further by walk. We dragged ourselves to the metro station and took the metro to Dubai Mall.
Ok, now it is clear to me why people do not walk in Dubai, particularly at this temperature. It is too hot and too humid. I haven’t been in Dubai during wintertime, but still I think that it will not be much different, even though the temperature is ‘bearable’. I am quite sure that people in Dubai are familiar with traffic jams. There are many vehicles on the road. I believe that just like in many western countries, people in Dubai get used to driving a car to work, to the supermarket, to the gym, etc. It is ‘fast’. It has become a habit, and habits are hard to change. It will probably be the tourist that will use the sidewalks during winter.