The over-ambitious Dubai

01/01/2021

Some times ago (before Covid), I had to go to Dubai for a conference. This was really unexpected becaus Dubai had never been on my Travel Bucket list. 

I love authenticity, old stone, traditions and culture, meeting with locals... and overthere, just as I was afraid of....I found nothing of these. 

Burj khalifa
Burj khalifa
  • The tallest Buidling in the world: Burj Khalifa. But until when? Another is currently under constructions and it should had been inaugurated for the 2020 Universal Expositions - it was not the case. Other countries are also in the race : Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), lrak (Bassora) and even Azerbaïdjan.
  • The most luxurious hotel in the world: self-proclaimed 7 stars, the Burj Al Arab opened in December 1999. Just like the Burj Khalifa, you can't go for a walk without having made a reservation. For, me, fom the moment your proclaim ourselves 7*, it seems a little bit fake... There are plenty of luxury hotels and each  and single one has its own definition of luxury.
  • The tallest hotel in the world; the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel. This ranking does not consider hotels included in mixed-use constructions, such as the Armani hotel at Burj Khalifa, for example... Otherwise the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong would be the winner!
  • The biggest wheel in the world: Currently it is in Las Vegas. Dubai could not therefore miss the opportunity to shine once again by its excessiveness! The Dubai Eye (Ain Dubai) was initially scheduled to open in April 2018 then postponed in 2020 for the Universal Expo and not somewhere in 2021. It is should to be 42 meters taller than the one in Las Vegas (168m). 

There you go ... and we skip the tallest frame-shaped building, the largest LED screen, the largest shopping center ... and a couple of years ago Dubai lost the title of the most indoor ski slope. world, for the benefit of China, it was necessary to get back in the saddle. This one will be part of the Meydan one Project, which will also include the tallest residential tower.

On spot we tried to understand why?
Why this luxury, why all this superficiality. And everywhere we had the same answer: The Emirate of Dubai is aware that its wealth comes from oil, and that it will not be eternal. So they are preparing for the post-oil era and are betting everything on tourism. It sounds smart reasoning, but for us they miss the point. Holidays are not about strolling among skyscrapers, in a city made up of 80% expats, and we are certainly not the only ones to think so. Before returning to Belgium, it was therefore necessary to "experience" the destination rather than endure it.


From the week I spent in Dubai, I will keep in mind this last day in the desert, in the company of Youssef, who grew up there, and who was keen to show me the dunes in which he played as a child, and magnificent sunset. He shared photos of his family, videos of local dances and songs, of his cousin's wedding. On his own, he managed to reconcile me, a little, with the destination...

Stéphanie