While travelling through the man-made marvel that is Dubai, Dumisane Lubisi found where its culture lies – in the heart of the city
It wasn’t until the last day of a four-day trip to Dubai, the city built on sand, that I saw its other side. For the previous three days, we had toured the newer parts of Dubai and its tourist attractions, including the Marina, Ras al-Khaimah and Palm Jumeirah. The water in the Marina was so clear and clean that you could see the white sand below.
Dubai was so clean – in fact, too clean – that I began to miss Jozi’s littered streets. Even the construction sites in Dubai – and believe me, there are a lot of them (the city is being developed 24/7) – are clean and well covered to avoid any safety risk to the public.
During my trip, we went to the top of the world – the 125-storey Burj Khalifa, where anything below it is dwarfed. It only takes a minute in the lift to get to the 124th floor, and then a single flight of stairs to the 125th floor.
On the fourth day, we visited the original city. This is basically the heart of Dubai, where one can experience the old part of the city and the way people used to, and still, live.
Unlike the fast-growing newer part of the city, where skyscrapers are literally stacked next to each other, this is where buildings show the signs of a previous era in the Arab nation.
Every country has a unique culture. It is here in the old city where you can visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where tourists are taken back to the history of the sheikhs who have ruled Dubai.
There is also a cultural village, where houses were built in the old style to show the contrast of the old and the new. If you are not religious, the centre’s managing director, Nasif Kayed, could easily convert you to Islam. I heard one of my travelling colleagues say they were ready to convert on the spot after a visit to the mosque.
A walk to the Gold Souk is a worthwhile experience. After all, Dubai is known for selling inexpensive gold, but always be aware of the fake dealers who dangle cheap or fake watches in your face all the time. It is worth checking if it is the real deal or not, but a bargain can be found.
History has always been very thin on the role Arab women have played in this nation, but a visit to the Women’s Museum supplies unrivalled information about the role of women in society.
Started by Professor Rafia Obaid Ghubash, the museum is unique in the Arab world, and is seen as a space to explore and celebrate the lives of women of the United Arab Emirates.
This is the history that is seldom found in newer cities, but can only be learnt when one visits an older city. I will definitely visit the Arab city again, but not in summer, when temperatures can easily go up to 50°C. Lubisi visited Dubai courtesy
of the Hilton Group
SKY’S THE LIMIT
Dubai is famous for its sleek, ultramodern architecture
WATER WORLD blazing sun
Parasailing is a good way to beat the