I spent two days last weekend at Dubai and Sharjah. I was en route to San Francisco and had taken a stopover at Dubai. Luckily, a colleague's relatives stay in Dubai, so I didn't have to worry about accommodation and food.
The most apt word for Dubai is "lavish". Not only do the Sheikhs have an enormous amount of money, they don't hesitate to show it off. Beautiful mosques with golden domes, neat roads with posh latest cars and heavy concrete density abounds this oil-rich mafia-ridden port city. In case you didn't know, you don't have to pay any income tax in Dubai. Yep, you heard it, no tax at all. Yet the ruler (a filthy-rich Sheikh) provides all civic amenities at his own cost. Of course he runs the biggest corporation himself (heard of emaar group? they own hyderabad's hitex, if you will) and this promotes Dubai as a business hub. Another big one -- if you are a citizen, you can legally keep 5 wives. Of course you'll have to be super-rich to afford and maintain 5 wives (and that still leaves out 2 days of the week), but just think about it.
Burj-al-arab, a seven-star hotel meant only for the super rich, is a tourist attraction. This is the hotel where David Beckham lives when he comes to Dubai and where Agassi and Federer played tennis on the heli-pad. This is the same hotel, by the way, where Rakhi Sawant stayed when she went to do it in Dubai. The tallest tower in the world, Burj Tower, is still under construction and its expected final height is yet unknown -- they want it to be the tallest for a long time. I also passed by Hyatt Regency, the hotel where Dawood Ibrahim's daughter got married and the cops from the world over kept vigil but couldn't track him down even though he's known to have come at the occasion. They don't even know for sure how he looks!
United Arab Emirates comprises of 7 emirates, of which Dubai and Sharjah are two. Apart from the oil business which accounts for most of the wealth, construction is a major industry. Dubai has the highest concentration of cranes world-wide, which was quite evident by the sight that almost all the buildings had cranes stemming out. Speed of construction is mind-boggling. Soil is almost as costly as gold. People gift soil and plants to each other during festivals.
The Arabs are very proud people. They do not resign their culture at any cost. They are highly motivated as well. Who can think of skiing in such a desert? Yep, they have a skiing center, artificially created. It's an entirely different world out there.
4 years ago