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Phespirit goes to United Arab Emirates
Dubai     June/July 1999

Setting aside the discomfort of daytime temperatures between 42-46°C (dropping to a mere 30°C in the evenings), Phespirit was well satisfied with his summertime roam around Dubai and its neighbouring Emirates.

In Dubai, shrewd management of oil revenue by the ruling Al-Maktoum family has lead to a prosperity and development boom without dependence on an income destined to run dry within fifteen years. Trade is the key; the city stands at a pivot between Arabia, Persia, India and Africa. Continual regeneration, reinvestment and reinvention has erased much of the past and created a skyscraping entrepôt between the desert and the deep blue sea. It's a capitalist dreamscape, knocking down and re-building, higher and higher, richer and richer. The place reeks of money.

All very well, but not particularly enthralling for the humble traveller looking for a taste of indigenous character. Phespirit took most pleasure in travelling away from the hub, into the desert and the mountains, across dunes and wadis, to take in both the west and the east extremes of the Emirates.

Swimming in the Gulf of Arabia (water temperature an impressive 33°C) and the Gulf of Oman (slightly cooler) had to be restricted to twenty minute bursts to prevent flesh incineration. Evening diversions, such as watching a sunset from deep within the desert, ambling around on the back of a camel, or enjoying a Turkish/Russian belly dancer perform an Egyptian belly dance, were somewhat 'cooler', if only in temperature.

Now, speaking of Oman .....

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