With Dubai...
And the Burj-al-Arab by night.
November 21, 2007

This is not my first visit to Dubai. I loved it when I came here three years ago. But could that have had something to do with
the fact that I had never been to a Middle Eastern country at that time? That I was experiencing something entirely new and
foreign to me? That I was with one of my best friends? I know several people that have come here in the past year and left
feeling a bit disappointed by this place. But because of already being here, I didn’t have any expectations. Upon arriving, I
knew what to expect.

Or did I?

I have been aware of all of the new developments that have been going on in this city over the past few years. Was I going to
like all of the changes? Was it going to trigger the same response in me that it did a few years ago when it was new and
different to me? Was it still going to be enjoyable while on my own vs. with a great friend?

The answer is ‘yes’.

While being driven from the airport, many things looked familiar to me – Wafi City, the Emirates Towers, Jumeira Road. I just
noticed that there was more in between all of these places than I saw last time.

I am lucky enough to have a friend, Alex, who lives here. The driver dropped me off at his house and I was blown away to see
that he lives right near the Jumeirah Mosque. But more importantly, he lives right near the Lime Tree Café – my and Lea’s
favorite place out here. I can’t believe Alex withheld this information from me!

Anyway, Alex isn’t here right now. He is in Qatar on business and will be back tomorrow night. In the meantime, I saw an ad
for a musical type of thing in the Emirates magazine on my flight. And the clincher was that it was being held at the Madinat
Theater at the Souks Madinat Jumeirah! We stayed at the Al Qasr and the villas last time we were here which are two of the
three hotels attached to this complex. It felt like I was back home.

After purchasing my ticket for the show, I made a beeline towards the beach. However, this time some trickery would be
involved since I wasn’t actually a guest. The first thing to tackle would be entering the Al Qasr. The security guard asked
where I was going. I told him I was heading to the bar at the hotel. I was very confident and didn’t hesitate at all when

Mission #1 accomplished. Now I was almost half-way there.

I went outside once I got into the hotel. Before crossing the bridge to the pool area, there was another security guard. Once
again, confidence was going to be the name of this game. I looked at him and said hello and just kept right on walking. I never
even gave him a chance to see a room key or ask me any questions. I just walked on as if I knew exactly where I was going and
like I had been a guest for the past week.

Mission #2 (and the final one) accomplished. I was now at the beach.

The sun had just finished setting and I took a front row seat of the Burj-al-Arab on one of the beach chairs. It was still pretty
light out so I was going to be able to enjoy this view during daylight and in the night.

I was practically laying in the fetal position on the chair just staring at the sail-like building. This is something that has far more
effect on a person (or at least me) in person than in pictures. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed looking at a single building more
than this one. I think part of what makes it so striking is the solitariness of it.

But then it only got better.

It was now nighttime and the hotel was shining a white color. But starting at 7:00pm is when showtime began – this was when
the hotel would change colors. It reminded me of a silent fireworks display. It happens at the top of every hour and is more
impressive to me than even the greatest of fireworks finales. It was something I don’t think I could ever tire of.  

At 8:00pm it was time for me to get off the beach chair and make my way to the theater. As I was standing in the foyer having
a glass of wine amongst all of the other show-goers, I thought how crazy it was to be doing something so sophisticated tonight
considering I was just in India this morning. I guess you can say I have had absolutely no problem adjusting to the developed
world. The show was more like a concert versus a musical. Four performers from the West End were there. All of the songs
they sang were from musicals that any one person had at one time been in. Considering they had been in Les Miserables and
Phantom of the Opera (in fact, one of the guys just finished a 2½ year stint in the lead role), I couldn’t have been happier to
hear some of these songs that I loved. It was different than I expected but I had no problem with this – I was just enjoying
listening to it all.  

When I went back to Alex’s, I got to look at the lit up Emirates Towers while walking the last couple blocks to his place (I had
to have the taxi drop me off at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf because I only knew how to get back to his place by walking through
an alley and would have had no idea how to direct the driver). These towers are simply awesome.

I just met Alex’s housemate, Louise. We just got done chatting for an hour or so. She now knows who this stranger living in
their house for the next five nights is. I thought it might be a bit uncomfortable staying here while Alex isn’t here but I was
wrong. I couldn’t feel more comfortable right now. And I can’t state how nice it is to be in a house instead of at a hotel.
The Burj-al-Arab by day...
Walking down the street in Mostar.
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