Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exploring New Dubai; The Palm Jumeirah

One day we hired a private guide and explored the remaining areas in Dubai. It was convenient, as the tour guide basically drove through all the major attractions, but at the same time it was not really a "tour" "tour". The most interesting thing was the Palm Jumeirah. It is an artificial archipelago shaped like a palm tree in a big shell. The neat thing is that the structure of fronds each surrounded by water means that all the houses are on the waterfront.
I heard there are three such islands in Dubai (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira), and Palm Jumerirah is the smallest one, but believe me it is big enough. The island is about 5km x 5km in size. You can drive around the island, or you can take a monorail which goes through the middle of the island. The monorail ride is nice, as you can see the fronds on each side that are filled with good-sized residential houses built tightly next to each other. Eventually, the monorail drops you off at the tip of the island where the Atlantis Hotel, the world's premier hotel, sits.

The Atlantis Hotel became an attraction for the tourists. The hotel is attached to a huge shopping center, lots of restaurants including the famous Nobu, and a huge waterpark. It reminded me of those hotels in Las Vegas but on a much larger scale.  The strange thing we found out about the hotels in Dubai is that their list prices are ridiculously high like $1000/night or higher in many cases, but all of them have special deals and the actual price you have to pay is much less. 

Due to the economy, some of the construction is still underway. I also learned later that there was a problem with the way the island was built which caused the seawater to stagnate within the island. They seemed to be able to fix it by putting more gaps in the breakwater. It is also said that the island is sinking 5 milimeters (approx. 0.2 inches) every year.  The island looks nice but sounds like a badly planned project. :(

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