2. Unlike Abu Dhabi, where white, beige and clean lines dominate the skyline, Dubai's modern city is a hodgepodge of geometric shapes. Architecturally, the clusters of skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road look a bit like an '80s fashion flashback -- all futuristic designs (from back when we still thought the 21st century would look like something out of The Jetsons), asymmetrical on top -- without the neon hues. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark was the perfect soundtrack for my arrival.
Some interesting factoids that I discovered after paying 125 AED ($34) for a sky-high view of Dubai from the 125th floor of Burj Khalifa, a "vertical city" with homes, offices, a hotel, a public observatory, retail stores and fitness and recreational facilities (though you'd have to go to the Mall of the Emirates across town to find the indoor ski slope):
- There are a record 200 plus stories from the bottom up.
- A person can see the tip of the spine from a distance of 95 kilometres away.
- At the height of its construction period (2004-2009), 12,000 workers from more than 80 countries toiled on the building.
- There are 57 elevators moving at a speed of 10 meters per second operating in the building.
- Winds of up to 198 kilometers per hour can gust by at the top.
- The entire structure is covered by 28,601 glass panels.
5. Maybe my 12 hours in Abu Dhabi lowered my expectations, but I'm digging Dubai a lot more than I thought I would, which is especially surprising since shopping and clubbing, the two things the city is best known for, aren't really my things anymore. I could spend hours just staring at Dubai -- a curious mix of metropolis, desert and sea, that's unlike any urban center I've ever experienced -- from street level or from up above. Though suffering from Ramadan- and heat-induced discomfort, when I returned to my hotel, Subway sandwich in hand, to gain relief from hunger, thirst and the cruel Persian Gulf summer, I could have sworn I did so reluctantly.