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Dubai Then Dubai Now

Rajat Dhameja is a Healthcare executive and Physician as well as a Blogger, travel enthusiast and amateur photographer

Dubai city lights viewed from Burj Khalifa Observation Deck on the 124th Floor

Dubai city lights viewed from Burj Khalifa Observation Deck on the 124th Floor

Old Dubai and New Dubai

The most striking observation during my Dubai visit was the metro system. Growing up in Dubai, I had thought to my self, "How could trains ever move in Dubai ?" After all, my understanding of trains were the heavy locomotives in India. Train tracks don't work in the desert. The Dubai metro is a sleek modern metro system for the most part, above the ground level.

One of the best examples of time travel would be leaving Dubai during the early 1990's and reappearing 25 years later. Few people in their lifetime have had the opportunity to come back to their place of upbringing almost three decades after.

I can not think of any other city which has outpaced the growth in population and construction akin to to the Emirate of Dubai. As I understand, several construction projects in Dubai are architecture marvels in themselves. From the biggest and tallest to the longest and highest, the city has employed the best in class of architects, project managers, civil engineers and construction crew.

I lived in Southern California for several years and was used outdoor shopping and dining. I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon several outdoor malls, shopping and dining beachside developments and around and within residential communities and offices.

La Mer and CityWalk shopping and dining developments brought back Southern California nostalgia. It's amazing how this desert city has transitioned to a bounty of outdoor malls with dining and entertainment. La Mer is an instagrammer's dream come true with colorful shower houses, bucket showers, art installations, hammocks and fountains, quirky themed restaurants and more,.

Dubai Marina is my favorite of all the outdoor spaces. This gigantic man-made Marina together with an 8km walking path, buildings, dining establishments and entertainment is among the pinnacles of Dubai's developments.

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Dubai Metro, in my opinion, is among the best in the world. The reason is not because of its expanse nor the driverless, fully automated trains, which in themselves are best in class. It is because the metro system together with modern Dubai's urban planning makes it highly convenient and cost effective. From ease of use and accessibility of the metro stations to precision timing of arrivals and departures, the accolades are too many to list.

Growing up in Dubai during the 1980s, most people either lived on the Bur Dubai, Karama, Jumeirah and Satwa side of the Dubai creek, while others lived across the creek on the Deira, Al Rashidiya, Airport and Al Quasis side. These two polarized sections of the city were so different, yet in harmony as one part of the whole Emirate of Dubai. Deira (Eastern Dubai) is famous for the renowned Dubai Gold Souk. The souk is home to over 380 stores, mostly selling gold jewelry but also diamonds, pearls and silver. Deira is also home to the Dubai Spice Market. During my most recent visit, I visited the spice market to purchase Persian Saffron and barely made it back to the airport, in time for my flight back home to the US

Dubai Spice Market

storefront in Dubai Spice Market with a variety of colorful candy, spices and saffron

storefront in Dubai Spice Market with a variety of colorful candy, spices and saffron

Sheikh Zayed Road

Over the years, I have driven coast to coast in the United States on freeways and highways with varying complexities of interchanges. But arriving in Dubai and riding along on Sheikh Zayed Road. This 14 lane modern freeway in Dubai is part of E11, the longest road in the UAE stretching from Al Silah in Abu Dhabi and ends in Ras-Al-Khaimah, running roughly parallel to UAE's coastline in the Persian Gulf. The stretch of Sheikh Zayed Road, from The World Trade Center to well beyond Jebel Ali, is lined with hotels, alls, restaurants, residential and commercial developments, car showrooms, furniture stores and more. The best part about this amazing freeway is the elevated Dubai Metro which runs along one side of the road with a precision schedule.

This entire stretch along Sheikh Zayed Road, to the north away from the beach and to the south toward the beach comprises the majority of the "new Dubai". This part of Dubai is organized or zoned much differently from the earlier mentioned areas of Bur Dubai, Deira and others. The new Dubai areas or neighborhoods comprises of several districts or "cities" such as DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center), Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall, Business Bay and Dubai Canal, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Residences, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai Media City and Dubai Design District. The best way to understand the layout and sequence of these neighborhoods is by riding the Dubai Metro a few times.

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