Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dubai - 9: Recession and shoes!

  Deira city center is another large mall with over 300 stores. Our first stop was in a clothing shop where we found a blue-black shirt that appeared different. After trying it on, we decided to pick it; my first purchase - but not exactly my purchase because my sister paid for it!

  After you visit a couple of malls you can pretty much guess the major shops that you will find in other malls as well. I continued my hunt for a sports shoe but invain - none of the shops had my size; we came very close but the shop wouldn't have that extra 0.5 in size. I was surprised because there were a lot of Westerners living in Dubai.
"We used to have large sizes earlier but last year since they weren't moving we stopped it."
Ah, the recession effect was felt in shoe shops as well!

  Dubai had certainly come a long way in a number of things but I felt it had gone down in one aspect. There was this polite notice I noticed in one of the malls that read something on the lines of "Respect the tradition of the country; ensure your dress covers upto your knees and your elbows." Unfortunately, though most people adhered to the guidelines, there were some who didn't. 10 years back you could never have seen such sights of sleeveless tops and or short shorts! But then, 10 years back Dubai never had these many malls - there were hardly 1 or 2 and even they were nowhere near to these in size. There always used to be a fair amount of Westerners but now I felt there was a lot more diversity and you could see that in these huge malls.

  Petrol was cheap; around one third the price; you'd get around 75 litres of petrol for Dhs. 100 (around Rs.17 per litre!); perhaps the low cost fuel encouraged people buying 4-wheel drive fuel guzzlers. There were plenty of 4-wheel drive SUVs on the road. And another factor was that SUVs cost less in Dubai; they were less than half the price in India because in India we had huge tax on these imported vehicles. A good SUV cost around Dhs. 100,000 (Rs.13 lakhs - for which we can only get a high end sedan in India). Pollution didn't seem as bad as in Indian metropolitans; maybe because all vehicles used petrol and not Diesel in Dubai. Almost everyday, if you went out to the street, you can be sure to spot a few Hummers on the road (Hummers are large SUVs that were originally designed for the US military and are very costly; it was originally called the HumVee and then branded as Hummer when GM reached out to the public).

  Another change I noticed was that there were a lot of good things like the metro design, buses, road designs (with exits on highways, petrol bunks with mini-supermarkets) developed similar to the US. Also imbibed in most drivers was the good habit of respecting pedestrians; most drivers stopped their vehicles when they saw someone about to cross. the road It wasn't up to the extent I saw in New York (where I've seen drivers stop the vehicle when they see you approaching the zebra crossing from the footpath) but  things were certainly changing for the better. It feels good when you see those little gestures. My bro-in-law told me how driving used to be rash a couple of years ago but with increasing traffic police patrol and slapping of fines, people became more disciplined on the streets. Seat-belts for the driver and co-passenger were compulsory and if found without the seatbelt, it would lead to a fine.

The pic is the Burj Al Arab - notice the sail structure of the building; it's a 7-star hotel and it's the one which has a tennis court in the sky, about 200 metres above the ground, where Federer and Agassi played a match;  its actually a helipad that can be converted to a tennis court; I forgot to check out if we can go up to the helipad - will check it out next time! By the way, curious to know the hotel rates? Ranges from around Rs.50,000 to Rs. 2 lakhs per night ($1000 to $4000)! Ahem - SS, become a millionaire soon :-)

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