When you're stuck on a tiny isolated spit of sand in the middle of the Persian/Arabian gulf, a feeling of "island fever" quickly sets in. Thank goodness for Dubai.
Just 45 minutes flight from Bahrain, Dubai is a welcomed excape. Though still relatively unknown to Americans, Dubai is a major tourist destination for Europeans. Dubai is the Vegas of the Middle East, with a bit of Disney World thrown in for good measure. It's home to the world's tallest building (The Burj Khalifa, left), the world's largest shopping mall which contains the world's largest aquarium, one of the world's largest indoor ski slopes, world-class hotels, restaurants, clubs, beaches and more. It's OTT to the extreme. Everything is bigger and better in Dubai. During my years covering the war in Iraq, I traveled through Dubai a half dozen times, and every year it seemed to double in size.
Last week, Mr. Crab returned to Dubai to attend a work conference. Mrs. Crab joined me after and we spent the weekend skiing, eating and visiting with friends. Dubai has changed alot since we were last there in 2007. Dubai now has a great metro system, alleviating the city's infamous traffic congestion. Dubai was greatly affected by the global recession but things are slowly getting back to normal.
The flight from Bahrain to Dubai is only 45 minutes, making for an easy weekend getaway. And thanks to heavy competition, roundtrip tickets are less than $150 on Gulf Air or low-cost carriers such as Bahrain Air and FlyDubai. Not surprisingly, Dubai is not cheap. Hotels, food and drink are quite expensive, though taxis and transportation costs are much cheaper than Bahrain.
Two Crabs top Dubai recommendations:
--Friday Brunch at The Westin Mina Seyahi (about $100 per person, with unlimited food and beverages and Chinese acrobats, located in a food hall as large as an airplane hanger).
--Le Meridien Dubai Airport ($120 per night. Home to nine fantastic restaurants and bars)
--Ski Dubai ($45 for two hours. Includes skis, boots, poles, ski jacket, ski pants and lift ticket. Bring your own hat and gloves; you'll need them!)
--Dubai Metro (Trains run every 5-7 minutes. About $.55 cents per ride when using the NOL top-up card).
--Jumeriah Beach Park, Dubai. Best public beach without the pricey hotel beach admission fees. Admission about $.50 cents.
--Great lounges: Barasti Beach Bar in Jumeirah; Bar 44 and Buddha Bar at Grosvenor House; Vue at Emirates Towers; Apres at Dubai Mall (overlooking Ski Dubai); Neos at The Address Downtown Dubai (great views and atmosphere but pathetically-slow service).
Scenes from Dubai: