18 October 2010

Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa

So now I am no longer in UAE but before leaving we visited the Dubai Mall, biggest mall in the world (apparently) and the attached Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world. Nowadays you can get about the city on the metro, it's only been open for about a year or less. Unfortunately it is still under construction so the nearest station to where Mum lived was not yet open. So before the ease and air-conditioning of the Metro was a 15 minute walk in the sun and heat to get to the station. But above you have a glimpse out of the front of the train, which has no driver but is all controlled by some computer system somewhere. Luckily the windows were clean so you can see quite clearly what I cold see. And here below is the Burj al Arab, the Sail, world's first 7-star hotel. And this view is from the train, brought to you via my camera's optical zoom.

The Dubai mall, like everything else in the UAE, is ridiculously ostentatious. The first of the ostentation that I came across was the Star Atrium - a central area with stars hanging from the ceiling down the length of three storeys.

Then there was a candy store. Outside of which was a sign saying no photography, but nobody stopped me so I guess they weren't too concerned about enforcing it. The giant lollypops were actually plastic but the effect is all that mattered.

Across the way from the candy store is a huge aquarium, with reef sharks and rays inside. The wall of the aquarium is the largest single acrylic pane in the world - they have the Guiness World Record plaque beside it. Then if you can tear your eyes from the fish and look up you see that the ceiling is covered in little stairs, packed close like the milky-way but not very authentic looking. And neither actually made very impressive pictures so here is another of the candy store - I didn't actually buy any, though the jelly-beans were tempting with all their flavours.

So if you walk down the mall someway you come to the gold souk, which is more expensive than the real gold souk of course but looks very nice. It is half empty though, which could just be because the mall is new but it looks like there were more shops there that have now closed, so I guess it goes to show that there really is not actually a need for the mall to be so big.

So if you continue past the gold souk you come to the waterfall, which is huge and there are actually two of them, both with these weird man statues diving down the water.

And finally you get another atrium of some sort, a larger one, surrounded by all the really expensive designer clothing stores, which is full of paper butterflies streaming down 3 storeys. Which more so than the stars made me want to fill my room with paper butterflies. When it comes right down to it though, a mall is just a mall and I think I like the Abu Dhabi ones better, I know where everything is. But on the other hand, this mall had the hugest bookstore, like a little mall in itself, I could have spent a fortune in there.

Finally it was time to go up the tower, after getting lost and nearly being late, because there is a specific time for which you book your ticket. You begin by going in and walking for ages, past panels of information concerning the design and building of the tower. Which is somehow based on the petal pattern of the lotus flower and most definately does not bring attention to the outrageous human rights issues that surround the labour force of the UAE. There is an interactive screen that shows a timeline of the building in which the tower itself acts as the line.

And the tower is not only the tallest in the world, it holds a bunch of other records too, like tallest man-made structure and stuff. I don't remember. But anyway it has 200 storeys and the fastest elevators in the world (as in, they are as fast as is possible but there are others just as fast elsewhere. So there are none faster, but some just as fast. So not a world record). We get in the elevator, which was surprisingly crowded. You would think for all that money (like 40 NZ dollars) they would give you a bit more space. And it was fast, you could feel your ears popping, but you couldn't see how fast it was because it was not the type that has windows. Perhaps you can tell already by my tone that I left this particular tourist attraction a bit disappointed. The biggest disappointment being that you could only actually go just over half way up - the elevator went to the 124th storey, out of 200. I asked what was up further, they told me offices and telecomunications. And here is the view, and I will stop complaining very soon. Just one more.

You see the problem with Dubai and the heat is that it is hazy, so on this particular day (as with most days) there is no horizon and nothing is clear. It looks sort of clear here but only because you don't know any better. And the view like this, with little open windows to poke your camera out of, was only around half of the building. The other was all glass, and facing into the setting sun so there was not chance of a photo. But there was less to see on that side at least. Still. The point is that in a country like this don't expect so much from the view. Then the day before I left, the temperature dropped a few degrees and suddenly everything was so much clearer. Just as I was leaving. But there you go.

Below is the view from the tower, the towers you see are not even the bulk if the city, just one of the many new tower-filled suburbs that is being built, and all the stuff close to the ground are villas. And at the bottom of the picture you can see the overpass with all the exits and entries onto the main road.

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