Better/Faster/Stronger in Dubai

Dubai is a land of shopping malls, Italian cars (not Fiats) and world records.  Here are a few of the world records that I saw:

  • Burj Khalifa – world’s tallest building
  • Burj Al Arab – world’s only 7-star hotel (debatable)
  • The Dubai Fountain – world’s largest choreographed fountain system
  • Dubai Metro – world’s longest fully automated metro network
  • Palm Jumeirah – world’s largest artificial island
  • Dubai Mall – world’s largest shopping mall by total area
  • Ski Dubai – world’s first indoor black (ski) run

It was a very busy 2 full days in Dubai.  Friday included the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, tea (dinner) at Burj Al Arab and a walk to Palm Jumeriah.  Saturday started with the monorail to the Atlantis Hotel and the end of Palm Jumeriah followed by Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Fountain.  My friend/travel partner Kyle did not feel well so I was on my own for most of my time in Dubai.

Dubai has a beautiful metro system but its reach is limited.  It is also the busiest system I’ve ever ridden on….busier than Tokyo and Beijing.  I did not expect that.  Most sane people would take taxi’s to cover distances that the metro does not cover but I like to walk and only used the metro and my feet to navigate Dubai.  I conservatively walked 20 miles in 2 days.  But some people are even crazier and run 26.2 miles in half a day so whatevah, I do what I want.

Some random thoughts on Dubai:

  • Very weird mix of modernism/consumerism/tourists and traditional Arab values.
  • Slow Internet everywhere.  And they have an area called Internet City.  Maybe I just visited the wrong places.
  • Lots of Russians.  And they think that everyone speaks Russian (most appear to speak very little if any English).  I had a random conversation with a waiter from the Philippines who randomly brought up how annoying this is and I had experienced the exact same thing earlier in the day when a Russian started yelling at a street vendor in Russian and the street vendor just shrugged his shoulders and said “English!”.  Moscow and Saint Petersburg will be interesting…
  • The Dubai Mall makes the Mall of America look like it should be condemned.  It’s one of the most over-the-top places I’ve ever been – soccer field, skating rink, aquarium  amusement park, water fall, medical clinic, grocery store….I could go on and on.  It’s truly immaculate.  And the next biggest mall in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, is also over-the-top.
  • Burj Khalifa is a lot taller than the next closest building:
Rank Building
City Height (m)
Height (ft) Floors Built
1 Burj Khalifa Dubai 828 m 2,717 ft 163 2010
2 Makkah Clock Tower Hotel Mecca 601 m
1,971 ft 120 2012
  • Tea at Burj Al Arab was fantastic.  The Burj Al Arab is widely considered the world’s nicest hotel – it’s very impressive.  It was the world’s tallest hotel when it was built and it’s built on an artificial island.  Tea in this case was actually a 3-course dinner consisting of a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade jams, french pastries, and tea and espresso drinks.  The best part of the meal was the freshly baked scones and wide selection of tea and espresso drinks and these were all unlimited.  The total cost was 325 AED or around 90 USD.  The only way you can visit the hotel is to reserve a room or make dinner or tea reservations.  Seeing that rooms start at over $1,000 USD/night this is by far the cheapest way to see the hotel.  And at $90 the meal was actually a good value.  However, slow water refills (needed for my long walk to the hotel) and very slow free Internet meant it was not perfect.  You would think the world’s nicest hotel would have decent free Internet…  BTW, I sat next to a soccer coach who was talking to a few of his players.  One of the players hopped into his Ferrari on my way out of the hotel.

Going to the Pyramids tomorrow….

Here are some pictures from Dubai.  I also posted a bunch of pictures and videos.

Burj Khalifa:


Taken from the top of Burj Khalifa:



Chris Dubai

Burj Al Arab:

Burj Al Arab

Atlantis Hotel at the end of Palm Jumeira:

Atlantis Hotel

Ski Dubai at Mall of The Emirates:

Emirates Mall

The Dubai Fountain.  Taken from the balcony of Dean and Deluca in the Dubai Mall.

Dubai Fountain

Near Media City Amphitheater.  Train was playing their encore song as I took this picture.  Shortly after that a security guard said I can’t take pictures and told me to delete all of them.  I pretended to do that.

Dubai Media City

Metro (always packed like this).  With creepy guy in foreground:



Butter Chicken Battle

My friend Mike introduced me to an Indian restaurant in Tokyo called Moti and a dish called Butter Chicken.  Ever since I’ve been on a quest to find a better butter chicken but have failed.  However, I did introduce Mike to an Indian market in Minneapolis that sells Butter Chicken mixes.  I even purchased a few boxes for him with one condition – that he prepare one rendition of it for Carrie and I.  He followed through on the deal and wrote an excellent piece on his blog about this:

I’m launching my own Butter Chicken Battle on this trip.  First stop was Moti in Tokyo and it was everything I remembered it being.  Silky, tangy and not overly greasy or rich with high quality ingredients.  It was also complemented by amazing garlic naan.

When we were in Mumbai we hired a driver for a day.  He assumed we would like a “continental lunch” and started to guide us to a spot.  I quickly interrupted him and said we would like an Indian lunch.  He said something like, “oh, yes sir, you will have an Indian lunch”.  He was quite excited – apparently  most tourists stay away from this.  He guided us to what appeared to be one of the nicest Indian restaurants in Mumbai – Delhi Darbar.  Of course I ordered Butter Chicken.  I honestly had low expectations since the quality of ingredients available in India is generally lower than other parts of the world like Tokyo.  This is one of the reasons that most experts say London has the best Indian food on the planet – lots of people from India and very high quality ingredients.

Anyhow, it was a good experience but the Butter Chicken was disappointing.  It was very greasy and the quality of the chicken was low – lots of grizzle.  And we both got a little sick a few days later (Kyle more so than me) and this meal was the probable cause.  So this is probably why tourists stay away….

The latest Butter Chicken was experienced in the largest and most grand shopping mall in the world – The Dubai Mall – at a restaurant called Dean and Deluca that overlooks the Dubai Fountain.  This Butter Chicken was unique – very sweet, almost like a sweet potato.  It was garnished with a splash of cream and was generally quite good.  If nothing else it was a good variation on the standard Butter Chicken but I would not consistently order this variation of the dish.

Pictures of these dishes can be found here:

The quest continues…..