United Arab Emirates I: Dubai – Magic Island in the middle of Arabian World or Fatamorgana?
I have been looking forward to the Emirates very much. I was here at the Global Village shopping festival seven years ago. There were not that many buildings here… We land at huge airport that has three terminals and six runways …
The Emirtes were founded by charismatic Sheikh Zayed coming from the royal family of Al Nahyan. Today, his portraits are everywhere and he is nicknamed Father of the Emirates for his success in uniting kingdom in dispute into one working country. This happened on December 2, 1971. The people of the eirates will never forget this day. He reigned 33 years, he loved horses and falkons. He used to be a scout so he founded a scouting center. When Abu Dhabi became the governor in 1946, he had his residence in Al Ain oasis. He initiated a huge project of cleansing old water channels and planting trees. In 1966, he replaced his brother Shakbut and became the ruler of the Abu Dhabi emirate for his brother hadn’t kept pace with the times. He died on November 2, 2004. He is buried in a mosque in Abu Dhabi. The mosque bears his name, the Sheik Zayed mosque. Today his oldest son is the president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.
So I had a break for a while. Now I am about to set off to the Dubai’s heart. The word Dubai means two brothers meaning two parts of Dubai on both banks of the Creek. Well, Burj Dubai and Deira. The Dubai Emirate is ruled by the Al Maktoum royal family. Today, Dubai is ruled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. He loves horses, and competes in distance horse races in Arabian desert.
I cross the Al Maktoum bridge. I stop at first to see the beautiful panorama of the Creek. I enjoy the vista of the Dubai National Bank. There is a pearl museum on one of its floors. People had been catching pearls for hundreds of years. They retrieved beautiful pink pearles. A pearl diver dived 50x times a day down to 15 meters. The amount he had to dive for was a dozen pearl mussels. It is of prism shape with a cut-off tip. The Etisalat telecommunication is completed with a huge golf ball on its roof. To the right there are two Rolex buildings.
One wouldn’t believe that the Creek is no river yet just a branch of the Persian Gulf. Water is salty there. It is 15 kilometer long, there are projects tha want to make it longer up to 30 kilometers altogether. Here in Dubai, no one could be stopped in constructing new buildings. On the opposite bank of the Creek, there are wooden trade ships called Dhows. Today they have engines, before they had sails. It seems all these years changed nothing. They lie at anchor here in the same way like 200 years ago.
To be continued...
Text/photo: Sylvie Halouzková
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