I live in Discovery Gardens, which has no gardens. Admittedly there are some trees and flowering bushes. I like the Marina neighborhood that didn’t exist ten years ago. It has a beautiful walkway along the man-made marina. Inside the marina mall right now is the tiny, green, plastic maze, “Forest Adventure”.
I find the new neighborhood names here amusing. The Greens are not very green, but Knowledge Village is where universities reside. TECOM and Internet City- I have no idea. Motor City has a track and Media City has media companies.
Yesterday I went Downtown to Emaar Pavilion. It’s a lovely cafe named for a development company responsible for many of the building projects around town. Half the space is an architectural showcase.
I like the cafe because it’s unique design, fresh, healthy food, good coffee and strong WIFI. There are long, communal wooden tables, interesting artwork, design and art books available to peruse as well as books hung as light fixtures and cut and sealed in plastic, like dining room centerpieces. It has an authentic feel in a city often described as artificial.
When I was traveling this summer, many Europeans said they don’t like Dubai, because it is artificial. It is a fair assessment in many ways.There are the man-made Palm islands and you can go indoor downhill skiing. Things have an unreal quality because some folks live lifestyles that would be impossible in most places. Want a Swarovski crystal foosball table? It’s the VIP model. We have VIP leather movie seats too. Come to Dubai!
It is also true everything here is new. The city does not have the cozy, lived-in feel of thousand year old cities. There are no tiny, crooked, cobblestone streets with old cafes. Dubai is shiny and mostly made of glass.
The Emiratis were, in the not so-historic and very recent past, a nomadic, bedouin culture of traveling camel caravans.
Many things about Dubai remind me of America. People love cars and transportation is centered around them. People love shopping malls and consumerism is a national past time. People are flocking here from around the world to live the Dubai-dream of sun, sand and golden job opportunities. From all social sectors and all corners of the globe, Dubai is a beacon for immigrants with hopes for a better life.
Emaar Pavilion has an excellent view of Burj Khalifa, which to me symbolizes human striving and Dubai’s ostentatious desire to be the best. I walked from the cafe, to the nearby Dubai mall to enjoy dessert at La Duree. Originally from Paris, the cafe now has a corner in the largest mall in the world and some of the best macarons in the world.
The street to the mall is lined with palm trees wrapped in lights and the whole way glitters.
The apartments by the mall are built to represent an Aladdin style Arabia. There is a lot of nostalgic architecture scattered around the city. Even more amusing to me is the construction going on that advertises they are building a Dubai Trolley. The trolley represents a kind of false nostalgia for a past that never existed here.
To get to the mall I pass through the Palace Hotel souk, one of the Aladdin- esque adobes and cross the fake pond/river that houses the Dubai fountains, which are like the Bellagio fountains in Vegas.
The inside of La Duree is filled with plush, deep blue chairs and decorated to make you feel like you are not at the mall. Many of the cafes and restaurants here try and make you feel like you are not at the mall.
The waiter tells me there is a new branch opening at ‘The Beach’, a new shopping development next to the actual beach. The actual beach has been extended to accommodate more sun-bathers, by trucking in sand from other parts of the Emirates.
The waiter tells me today is his last day at the mall so he can work at the beach location.
“It will be the biggest La Duree in the world”. Of course! It is Dubai after all.