Snowboarding in Dubai Days 5 & 6

3 Jan

Again I apologize for not posting what i am doing everyday, but i am literally falling asleep at the keyboard every day when i write my blog post.

On day 5 we took a tour through Ajman (the smallest emirate), which didn’t have any special, we went through a museum which was interesting (most museums are very old palaces that have been renovated and teach about culture in the middle east). We then went through a tour of Ajman which is the most “cultured emirate”,we went to a museum and went to a really nice souk where I was able to display my amazing haggling skills getting such things from 40 dirhams to 15, 35 to 20, and 30 to 10 (I have learned from the best). Afterwards we went to The Ibn Batutta mall (Ibn Batutta is a famous traveler and scholar), which is an amazing mall (which is split into different sections such as Persia,India,China,Egypt and other countries Ibn Batutta visited on his travels. Keep in mind the malls in Dubai are HUUUUUGE. We split up into groups (about 9 people per group) and my friend roberto met up with one his friends from michigan state who lives in dubai and his friend (whose name i don’t know), both were wearing traditional muslim outfits. We ate at a delicious asian restaurant (funny how i’ve been eating a lot of chinese since i’ve been here). After dinner when we were about to pay, roberto’s friends friend actually paid for all our meals, and the bill was over 500 dirhams (people are that wealthy). apparently he also owned a lot of camels and drove the latest 2011 Lexus, either way it was extremely nice. Today, we went to Abu Dhabi where we visited TDIC and learned about their projects to improve tourism in Abu Dhabi. Their largest project is the creation of Saadiyat island (you can read more about it in my homework #6 and see more at http://www.saadiyat.ae/en/). Afterwards we went to the Emirate Palace hotel (seven stars) which was incredible! Everything was gold, and it contained the largest swarozski crystal chandelier. It was of course completely over the top and ridiculous-but interesting. Although we didn’t see much, from what we did see (the bathroom included) everything was extremely lavish-and it should be given the fact that one nights stay is around 50000 dirhams. We then went to Mall of the Emirates which is probably the 2nd most amazing mall in Dubai and had some of the greatest shops. It is also well known for its indoor ski resort. Everyone wanted to go snowboard/skiing and the cost was only around 50 dollars (for 2 hours everything was included), so i figured why not, A once in a life time experience to snowboard in Dubai. Unlike everyone else, I have only snowboarded once in my life when I was 12 and skied when i was 5 years old, and the slopes were recommended for intermmeidate-to experts. Never the less, I thought i would be fine. Then I saw the slopes, and they were huge! I soon became extremely nervous. My first few times snowboarding I looked like a complete idiot falling at ridiculous speeds and almost running down children, however eventually I became pretty good, and managed to do some nice jumps and get some air. However then disaster struck, I was on a chairlift with these extremely proficient snowboarders (they were actually 12 year olds but they clearly knew what they were doing), I desperately tried to get off at the medium hill, but I was trapped. I went up to the largest hill and could only get down one way. My legs were shaking I was so afraid, but I took off. I was speeding at intense speeds (i don’t know how to slow down/turn/stop), and I was doing an incredible job, shooting out like a rocket, making the huge jumps, passing the large hill and moving onto the medium hill. All was going according to plan, and then this blonde women who was skiing got right in my way. I panicked, turned barely missing her, and shot underneath the orange fence into the ramp area, went up a ramp and did a flip and landed. All of the staff was clapping and shocked. I had completely blackout once I felt my whole body going underneath the orange fence. Everyone asked me how I was, and I had to ask them what just happened because I have no memory what so ever. Was it worth the 50 dollars? every penny. I completely conquered my fears, did something i never would have imagined, and had a once in a life time experience, what more can one do on a study abroad trip?

Homework #6

3 Jan

Today while we were in Abu Dhabi and visiting a company called TDIC, we learned a lot about the sustainability of Abu Dhabi and the rise of tourism in a man made island called Saadiyat Island. Saadiyat Island is an island that will soon be a huge cultural and tourist attraction. Although Saddiyat Island may look like a risky expenditure and have a heavy reliance on tourism, I think that ultimately their efforts will pay off and the man made island will be sustainable. Given that NYU has agreed to create a school on the island, that unlike Dubai Abu Dhabi has noticed little to no suffrage in tourism, and the buildings are LEED gold certified and sponsored by the government, I believe that Saadiyat will sustain. TDIC has put a lot of time/lots of minds behind it/ and has a lot of money. Given Abu Dhabi’s position in the world, it suffers from no environmental hazards such as tornados,hurricanes, or tsunamis that others, which makes the location very prime. Personally, I feel that investing in Saadiyat island is a smart decision based on its ability to sustain, culturally,economically, and environmentally.

Homework #5

2 Jan

Today in our lecture we learned about indians and other immigrants who work and live in Dubai. It really surprised me to find out how indians are treated in Dubai. Growing up in an upper class area in the city of Milwaukee most Indians who I came across were very wealthy.  I was very shocked to learn about how poorly indian citizens are treated in Dubai by the Emirati and Europeans. In fact many of the shop keepers who work and own most of the souks we visited were indian. I think it’s great that Dubai has so many different cultures represented, and how indian culture can be seen through out the city (from product placements with indian actors to having indian made products and pillow cases in most stores). However one thing that upsets me is how Indian people are treated as individuals. Most indians are unable to get citizenship in Dubai, and are also racially discriminated against. Given that Indians are such a vital part to Dubai’s social hierarchy (making up the middle class), they should be treated with more respect and given more rewards or else the angrier the indians become as a society, the more likely they are to move away-creating a collapse in the system.

Exhaustion. Days 3 & 4

1 Jan

I apologize for not being able to write what we did yesterday, but I have been completely exhausted, and as you read you will understand why….

The day began by us heading off to Abu Dhabi. We visited the Emirate palace hotel, which is the other seven star hotel in the world-and looks like a palace that any king would be envious of ,(total cost was 3 billion dollars, and rates are as high as 20,000 a night…). We then went to an amazing lunch on the beach after looking at a museum. Afterwards we went to the 3rd largest mosque in the world, which looked like the palace from aladdin. The inside has the world’s largest chandelier, world’s largest carpet, marble and stones imported from over 100 countries. Afterwards we went to Global village, which is a lot like Disney’s epcot. Global village contains all asian countries with what feels to be a million little kiosks from across asia. We then drove off to the perfect view of the skyline and watched the fireworks-truly a spectacular new years eve.

Today we went to water wadi, a really nice water park in Dubai right in front of the burj al arab (7 star sailboat looking hotel). I won a free LG dvd player on a scratch and win ticket! They also had a tank of fish which eat the dead skin off of your feet, so all of us did that-which tickled/felt good and now my feet are incredibly soft. We then we from water wadi to chery (student of MSU who lives in Dubai), where we ate the best food that I had ever had.

Well right now i’m literally falling asleep at the keyboard, so i’ll stop there.Happy 2011!

Homework #4

1 Jan

The question of whether or not Dubai is sustainable is a question that can be argued fairly by both sides. On one side, Dubai is an amazing cosmopolitan city in the middle east. Dubai blends cultures from around the world, and has some of the most fantastic tourist sites. On the other side Dubai is polluted, has clashes between religion and tourists customs, and will soon be having a lot of trouble once it’s oil is gone. I think the best analogy of Dubai is similar to what we all experienced today: a Water Park. Water parks are a lot of fun, they are filled with tourists from across the world, and customs and rules that should be respected. Then again a water park is typically also are very dirty, expensive, use water for fun over survival purposes, over indulgent, and has lots of tourists that love showing off their disgusting speedos that might upset the locals (analogy for public displays of affection and other displays that go against muslim traditions). A question of whether or not Dubai is sustainable ultimately comes down to: will Dubai be a Water park for the rest of it’s life or a functioning country that accepts more citizens.

Homework #3

31 Dec

Globalization is extremely prevalent in Dubai, and can be seen through out the emirates. Thousands upon thousands of tourists come from all over the globe. The first sign of globalization can be seen at any destination whether it is in the street or at the mall. The languages that are present range from arabic, to english, chinese, german, and more. In fact every sign is first in arabic and then in english. While walking around the streets and malls, one can see that the ethnicities of everyone range from across the world. Coming from a country where majority of the people who are white are American, It’s very shocking to see white people and have no clue what country they come from, or hear them speak a language that you have never heard. One can also see the works of globalization in the amount of foreign stores. Whether it’s chains like KFC and Pizza Hut to european fashion stores such as jack & jones, the mall of dubai is a huge cultural mix connecting countries from across the world. Dubai is a country unlike any other, not only representing its muslim roots but also connecting countries from all over.

City Paved in Gold: Dubai Day 2

30 Dec

Just so any of my family members know- you can go to fsdubai.wordpress.com, look along the side and read the blog posts by others ( I typically am completely exhausted and brain dead by the time i write about what I did everyday and others write much more than I do).  Today we went on a tour lead by a local emirati woman (similar to all emirati women she wore an all black abya and hijab and designer hand bag and sun glasses) name Burshraja. We learned that Dubai is split into two different parts- Bur Dubai and Deira. We went to the Burj al Arab which is a seven star hotel and looks like a giant sailboat. We then quickly jumped into the persian gulf by a beautiful local beach. Afterwards we went to a gorgeous mosque. We then went on an abra (not the pokemon), which is a water taxi that looks similar to a dhow.We then toured a museum and visited what would look like a wealthy house in the middle east where we ate coffee,tea, and dates. We then went through the gold souks and looked at the most expensive pieces of jewelry. We then spent tonight at the etisalat academy (where we are staying) and enjoyed a delicious dinner with the Jordan soccer team.

Homework Day 2

30 Dec

Today we learned a lot about the effects that private coastal properties play on the environment the economy. I was extremely shocked to hear how so many private properties are adversely effecting the economy and environment. When a city has an economic boom, the increase in profits typically leads to an expansion along the coast. This expansion is extremely detrimental to not only the coast, the economy, and the environment, but also the country it’s self. Typically these seaside resorts are 2nd homes to visitors, which turn into complete ghost towns when abandoned during off season months. During environmental disasters (such as the oil spill in florida) these homes are completely abandoned and the private housing markets are left in shambles. The construction of these homes also contribute to pollution in the water and removal of sea life. Dubai severely suffers from the increase of coastal houses, however they are greatly seeing the negative effects as their money begins to wear out-especially the environment is suffering. Governments should regulate private property along the coast and create more publicized areas. Economics boosts should benefit nations-not hurt them in the long run.

My New Twitter Account

30 Dec

Follow me on Twitter at @ReidMasimore

From Souks to Chic: Day 1 in Dubai

29 Dec

After a 2 hour flight to Atlanta, a 14 hour flight to Dubai,and 2 and a half hour wait in UAE customs, we had finally arrived.

Waking up the next day, we immediately went to breakfast where I have no idea what I ate, but it was delicious. Afterwards we were lectured  (ate some amazingly delicious food…again i have no idea what it was) and then went off to the Dubai Museum, where we learned about Dubai’s history and rapid expansion to its current state. We then walked around the streets and along Dubai’s large creek and then to a souk. After looking around the souks (mostly touristy traps and camel t-shirts that read “dubai”), we then went to the world’s largest mall: The Dubai Mall (over 1200 shops). The Dubai Mall was seriously ridiculous (waterfalls, ice skating rink, The largest single aquarium, and any store you can name). Chanel, Prada, Armani, Jack & Jones, you name it, it was there…and more. We then shopped, ate dinner at a thai/chinese restaurant (TOLD YOU DAD), and then shopped some more (we spent 5 hours there and I didn’t even make it to the third and forth floor). We then watched an amazing water fountain show (the same guy who does the shows in Las Vegas).Overall it was an incredible day filled with new adventures/experiences and aching legs ;P.

One thing that stood out to me was the culture of Dubai. I thought I understood what wealth was, but the amount of wealth that I saw at the Dubai Mall completely shocked me. It should first be said that Dubai is a complete culture mix, one has no idea who is american, who is italian, or what ethnicity or where they come from. I saw maybe three americans? The rest was a huge mix of Indians,Arabians,Europeans of all sorts, Australians, and MANY OTHERS (just as I type this there is a group of people from africa watching white chicks). Almost everyone I saw was covered in all brand names from head to toe. Muslim women who are traditionally veiled from head to toe, carry one of a kind designer bags and shop in the most luxurious (and expensive) of places. My entire life my perception of wealth had been characterized by  people who were considered “old money” or people who have gained their fortune through inherited wealth. “Old money” people typically don’t flaunt their wealth, and Dubai is a city that contains people who not only flaunt their wealth in all brand names but can be considered a definite haven for people of “new money”. The amount of young people who used spray tan, had jelled hair, and  trophy wives on their arms completely blew my mind. I had believed that Dubai was a nation filled with wealthy people…but never to this extent. What fascinated me even more was how much cheaper everything is here in Dubai than America. 1 dirham for a large bottle of water (1 dirham= 33 cents). Clothes  ranged from very expensive (which was expected in certain stores but cheaper than the states) to pretty acceptable  prices (and I am the king of sales goodwill). Overall Dubai is a extremely fascinating  and other worldy city and a true experience for anyone. I believe the future days will bring more shocks, excitement, and enjoyable experiences.