|The United Arab Emirates|
|Day 260 of Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure, Tuesday, March 20th, we landed in Dubai, of The United Arab Emirates (UAE), at 8:30 PM local time, on a flight from Mumbai, India. Our attempts to obtain visas had failed while we were in India so we weren't sure if we would even be able to enter the country. Luckily, three days before we arrived, the rules were changed and holders of U.S. passports are now allowed to enter the UAE without a visa. Upon arrival we were given a two month visa and we checked into The Airport Hotel.
Dubai is one of seven sovereign shaikdoms which make up The United Arab Emirates. Dubai is a very wealthy city. It's wealth is founded on trade not oil, relying on anything-goes capitalism to prosper and grow. Just as the opium trade spurred the growth of Hong Kong and a laissez faire attitude toward trade regulations sparked Singapore's rapid growth, Dubai has used the unregulated trade of gold to launch rapid modernization. (We visited both Hong Kong and Singapore earlier in our adventure.) The discovery of oil in 1966, merely contributed to trade profits and fueled (pardon the pun) growth.
Wednesday, March 21st, day 261 of our travels, we set out to explore Dubai. After exchanging some money, one US dollar gets you about 3.7 Dirham (Dh), we headed for Dubai Creek. Dubai Creek, before spilling into The Gulf of Arabia, separates Dubai into two parts -- Deira to the east, and Bur Dubai to the west.
From the Deira side, we hired an Abra (a small motorboat which ferries people across the main waterway) to take us on a one hour tour. The best way to see a great trading port is from the water. Along the way, we saw the club house and a few holes that skirt the waterway, of The Creek. Tiger Woods was in a tournament held in Dubai a few weeks before we arrived. It didn't take place at The Creek.
After our boat ride, we explored the souks of Dubai. Souks are areas that specialize in the sale of specific trade goods. The gold souk is probably the largest such market in all of Arabia.
Thursday, March 22nd, day 262 of our adventure, was pretty much a day of rest. When you are traveling there is often the impetus to get out and do something everyday. Once and a while it is just nice to kick back and do nothing.
Friday, March 23rd, day 263 of our travels, we awoke to watch CNN coverage of the splashdown of the MIR Space Station into the South Pacific Sea. Muri Beach, on the Cook Islands, which we visited back in August, would have been a great front row seat to watch the spectacular light show as giant pieces of the station broke up into huge fireballs and crashed into the sea.
After another day of rest -- hanging out by the pool, reading a good book, watching movies, etc. -- we prepared for a late night (actually early morning) flight out of Dubai.
Saturday, March 24th, day 264 of our adventure, we took a 3:40 AM flight from Dubai toward Johannesburg, South Africa.