I gladly would have given up those two meals for the chance to spend more time walking through the city and enjoying its unparalleled architecture from ground level rather than mostly from taxis, the Metro, or 125 stories up, on the observation deck of Burj Khalifa. Why spend all days indoors, wandering around massive shopping malls, buying things you don't need that you can probably get back home, when you could be experiencing Dubai under the blue-gray sky (preferably, when it's a hazy shade of winter)?
Sprawled out below Dubai's vertical city but hardly crouching in its shadow are the historic white and beige buildings of the horizontal city, which covers most of the landscape. Before arriving in Dubai, this was the visual image I'd always associated with Middle Eastern cities going by what I always saw on the evening news growing up, and it's this part that makes me feel like I'm in true Arabic country and not just another bustling urban jungle.
With domes of mosques punctuating the horizontal skyline, it can almost be seen as the architectural representation of Dubai's devoutly Islamic side, while the vertical skyline reflects the city's more secular interests (money and power). It's a stunning dichotomous urban design in which vintage (the horizontal portion) and futuristic (the vertical area) intersect and complement each other without actually mingling (architectural segregation?).
The short less-than-5-minutes camel ride at the camp entrance wasn't nearly as scary as it looked when the ladies on The Real Housewives of New York City climbed aboard the humped-back beasts of burden in Morocco, but I still can't figure out how four spindly legs managed to hold my weight without buckling.
I nearly gave in to the pressure of the five salesmen who tried their best get me to drop 160 AED (roughly $44) on one of the outfits, presenting me with an assortment of keffiyehs in different colors and lowering the price in increments of 10AED (all the way to 120 AED, or $33) to sway me, but in the end, my resolve not to add to the weight of my check-in luggage triumphed. I mentally thanked them for reminding me why I hate shopping and headed for the dunes.