The departure from Iran went relatively smooth. I had feared that on the departure the secret service will once again check all my pictures. But this was fortunately not the case. Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze something through the five checkpoints. Building security, immigration, police, border police and the military wanted to make sure that all documents were correct. Several copies were made. But I could finally enter the ferry as the last man on board. It was a modern catamaran that sweeps over the Persian Gulf at high speed. The coolest thing was that you could even go out to the front of the vessel, if you can fight the wind. The ride was very entertaining, mainly because I had a very crazy stateless person sitting next to me. For the last 18 years, he has been touring the world and he has definitely a mental problem. He is a Christian on mission, and spent half a year at the Al Quaida Camp in Afghanistan, sitting in various prisons and living as a homeless. I do not believe all of it, but it was an amusing conversation. He told me, for example, how he had repaired his TV with a can of coke in the Turkish prison. When we finally discovered the skyline of Dubai behind the sandy veil, I tore myself off to see what awaited me.
To get the first impression I decided to walk the five kilometers to my hostel. A crisp contrast program, a small cultural shock. Everything is arranged, incredibly clean and gigantic. From the streets, over the cars to the buildings ... everything. The cyclists wear helmets and warning vests, huge tank trucks with fresh water cross the street, the bus stops are air-conditioned, everywhere English is spoken and there are people of all cultures and origins to discover. Many uncovered women, which naturally gave me a small smile in the face. Oh ... and my feeling for money must also be re-adjusted. It's all very expensive here. Immensly expensive ... except for the cigarettes, which is here even cheaper than in Iran.
I have to admit that I did not take much interest in it. It was clear to me that I was here in a metropolis of capitalism. It is so decadent and erect. Static symbols wherever you look. The city itself consists almost exclusively of hotels and malls (shopping centers). No traditional culture or their proofs can be found. Because they’ve never been here. In the middle of the last century there lived only a few thousand emirates and traders with pearls, precious stones and finally the good old oil and gas. And then this city shoot out of nowhere. Of course, Islam is the dominant power here and the Sharia is also used here as the basis of the law. However, it is much more liberal than in Iran. Sure, because the city lives on trade and tourism. Unlike in Iran, foreign cultures, philosophies and life settings are the order of the day. That is why many things that speak against the Shari'ah are here tolerated ... at least. This includes alcohol, clothing and it is even possible as a unmarried couple to get a double room. Many who live here try to live the Emirati-dream and use every possibility to increase their wealth. But all power lies with the natives. The "Emiratis" as I call them here now.
Thus, this city gives me the feeling that much is set up and wrong. I mean the whole thing is basically wrong. One should not build a modern city in the desert. Even if you can. But it is definitely impressive to what human genius is capable of. Huge buildings, fascinating architecture, infrastructure, the tallest building in the world, artificial islands, water supply ... .all very impressive and I am happy to have seen this with my own eyes. To get used to it slowly and also to save some money I spent the first days here with office work ". Actualize my blog, sort pictures, do some online banking and of course prepare my next attempt to get an Indian visa. In Dubai, this attempt failed again. The Embassy wanted a motivation letter and an official document of the German Consulate, why I apply for my visa outside my home country. So I postponed this to my time in the capital Abu Dhabi.
So I started doing some tours through the city, saw many things I only knew from the Internet and also slowly got used to the lifestyle here. Only to the price level I could not get used to. I do not want to introduce you to the main attractions ... you know them already. However, I had a few wonderful experiences in the "Old Town" Dubai of which I would like to report. I made my way into the "historical" quarter, a replica of the old Dubais, which today is a further tourist attraction in Dubai. But I could at least inhale a bit of Arabic flair. I went early in the morning and so there was not much going on and many shops were still closed. Perfect for me, who don’t want to buy anything anyway. I enjoyed it by strolling through the narrow streets. In an alley I could walk through an open wooden door and saw a few people working on sculptures and paintings. Naughty as I am, I just stepped in and peered over the shoulders of the artists. A friendly lady welcomed me and led me around. This institution combines people with disabilities and professional artists to learn from each other and to create art together. Very exciting. I spent a whole time here, talking to the artists and inspecting the workpieces. Fabulous, a great experience. I am so happy to have found this pearl of pure, genuine community, respect, acceptance and love. Then I went to the Dubai Museum, where I could learn a lot about the history, development and modern Dubai. From the pearl divers to the modern water supply. Fascinating and educational. Worth a recommendation!
An unprofessional analizes
There is a multi-class society here, as I have experienced so far. I personally divided them into five categories. I am not a social scientist nor do I have any expertise or knowledge ... but I write down here just what I have learned from the emirates:
I The Emirati
The upper class, center of power and law. Sure, it's their country. The indigenous families, who were still traveling through the desert almost 50 to 100 years ago, are bursting with abundance. And they hold the reins in their hands, but themselves in the background. They are hard to see and work almost exclusively in state-owned companies, management positions in large corporations or in the real estate market. Or live a life without work. They lead this federal constitutional hereditary monarchy of the 7 emirates, which is headed from Abu Dhabi. The Emirati are only appearing separately in public. They love to hide and live among themselves. They live according to the philosophy of money. If they need something, then it is bought. There is no ask for help or a thank you. It is bought. If an emirate dips somewhere, the behavior of the other changes suddenly. Awe-inspiring and almost fearful, they are served prioritized. But there are of course great locals who live with wit and openness in their country. Just my generation and the following are very cosmopolitan and modern. They study in the high-class universities of the world, outside their country, and are generally very Western.
A small part of the people living here come from all countries of the world and have made a tolerable life possible with their business in the modern Emirates. Here are great status symbols duty and the bulk wishes to be an Emirati himself. They run large shops and projects and occupy the large panoramas of the gigantic residential towers. Slightly less sobering but still upper class are the many expats, foreigners who travel for a few years to the Emirates to work here. Their assignments are manifold. Construction, education, services and more. Exquisitely from first world countries.
Most of the rich people of Russia, Germany, India, USA, England use the excellent hotels of the Emirates and the excellent weather in the winter months to relax and spend billions of euros for shopping. Gigantic hotel complexes offer imposing dream worlds, of course right next to one of the enormous shopping centers. In these, the tourists find the same shops as anywhere in the world, but it seems to be more exciting to buy the luxury in the desert. It could be more favorable, since the United Arab Emirates does not charge import duties or VAT. But demand here also drives prices to the usual decadent level. Or they use one of the incredible leisure activities such as the ski hall in the desert (!), Huge water parks or recreation parks. And all this, although here really only sand should be ...
IV Middle layer
Filipinos, Indians, Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Moroccans, Filipinos and Indians ... a bunch of them. Actually the true population of the country. Hard-working people keep the country in shape. They form the middle class and work mainly to fulfill the dream of wealth, which of course only a few create, or to provide their families financially in their home countries. For this reason you can barely find local restaurants. Everything is full of Indian, American, Filipino and Chinese fast food. It is really hard to find local culture. But that’s it. Local in the Emirates means fast food and a lot of Indians and Filipinos.
V The Bottom
Officially, there is only one homeless in the Emirates ... he’s cult and has established a place in an underpass in front of a shopping center. He is famous and he does not deserve badly through the donations. He’s more of a proud homeless. The real end is the many foreign workers and service providers who primarily use the middle class. Also mostly Indians and Filipinos. They live with many people in the smallest space and try to live the Emirati dream. My hostel in Dubai is housed in such a district. So I've seen and experienced it.
After a few days Dubai I took the bus to Abu Dhabi. There Narek was already waiting for me and welcomed me. Narek is from Armenia, has been the Expat here for 3 months and has been with me for a long time. A great guy! Very well read, intelligent and generous. He is a programmer and since he is new, we spent a lot of time together. He told me a lot about the emirates, but also about his home country. We quickly became good friends and undertook a couple of beautiful trips through his hometown for the next 2 years. From his apartment, I finally succeeded in my application for the India visa, backuped my collected pictures and videos (32GB !!!) of the last seven months to and relaxed. Just what I needed. In addition, he welcomed me with wine, he had a license to buy and transport wine, so we sat together, drank French and also German wine, sang together and philosophized about the big and small problems of the world.
Abu Dhabi is also bursting with wealth and splendor. It's not as stylish and exaggerated as Dubai but still stylish and exaggerated. It is always fascinating to see how many shopping centers a city can withstand. It is especially hard to see - especially the ultra-rich tourists from Saudi Arabia – walk through them. Well, mostly they drive with electric mini-taxis through the gigantic consumption temples. The Saudis, which holds on to itself, has several women in their carriage ... . Yes wifes. The maximum I could count were 7 of them. Completely veiled. Not even eyes could be seen. Polygamy is also allowed in the Emirates ... Girls from 9 years may be married. Inhuman ... a real horror. However, due to the high level of education of the new generation of the emirate, the westernization, this is hardly tolerated socially. The right exists, however, the normal Emirati does not necessarily have more than a woman ... an adult. Exceptions prove the rule. But, of course, this country is unfortunately far from equality or at least European conditions.
Abu Dhabi is spread over several islands near the mainland. Some of them created by human hands. Also here is a historical quarter, which unfortunately I have not visited. The landmark of the city is the huge mosque. A magnificent building of immense proportions. Here, among other things, is the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world. And huge, artistic chandeliers illuminate the interior of the white mosque. But also the facade is illuminated in the dark magically. A picture like Disney's Alladin. Narek and I had a lot of fun here and we shot thousands of photos ... very many nonsense, without being disrespectful of course. Among other things, the founder of the Emirates, national hero Sheikh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahyan is buried here. Since his death in 2004, 24 hours every day, the Koran is sung on his deathbed ... by real people. Over 12 years ... impressive perseverance.
After about a week I finally got my passport back. Now it will finally be easier for me to travel through the country again. It is a weird feeling to travel through the public without ID document. Now I have a visa for 6 months for India with multiple entry possibilities. Then I finally get the visa-stress behind me. In any case, I have got used to the fact that here some people and above all the public hand has too much money. And I enjoy the pleasant weather here. We have almost 30 ° C during the day. And this in January / February. I love it. Although it has rained here twice already. Each for a few minutes and no large amounts. However, there also have been snow in the desert after many years. Not here, but on the Omani border. The Emirati are going crazy. I just do not need snow and enjoy my time on the coast for a few more days. Then I move off again.
I am exited what is going to happen next. You also?
- The crazy, stateless Christian has tried to convince me of the power of God. He showed me the magic of the still waters in the harbour to set our glorious arrival. I saved him from explaining the meaning of the mole, the breakers in the harbor.
- In Dubai, there is the profession of "dustman". Each night they wander around and remove sand from the cars.
- The few small political parliaments prescribing the constitution of the emirates is, of course, occupied by a few family leaders. I followed a discussion on TV. It looked like in a small cinema.
- Right next to the ski hall I used the toilets. And in there is written that I should consider the environment and use only one paper towel. Are you serious? Next to the damn ski hall you built in the desert ???
- Toilets are by the way the best here in the Emirates. Good, clean, solid, cozy western toilets!
- Of course you will be checked when you visit the great mosque. And cigarettes must be left in a bowl at the entrance. Fair enough. But when we got out our cigarettes were gone! They got stolen in a mosque ... sad ...