Immigration was a breeze. No words were exchanged; I just walked and handed over my shiny new blue Canadian passport. The Arab man in a dishdasha behind the counter took, glanced through it, and fed it through a machine, before picking a big peg and stamping my passport. It was given back to me, and I grabbed my bags and headed for fetching my baggage.
As I walked out of Immigration, I glanced back at the section called “Visa Delivery”. A long line of brown men stood impatiently, waiting their turn, while bored policemen dressed in green kept a wary lookout. In another world, that would also have been me in that line, waiting to collect a visa to enter the country. Yet now I just wave the magic Canadian passport and breeze through. Another Sri Lankan man dressed in blue overalls stood waiting with a cart, ready to help me with my luggage.
It’s a strange class system they have here. Brown, uneducated men from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India toil and slave to build the facilities for the Arabs to wine and dine and impress their white business clients, who then sign contracts worth millions to hire more brown workers for sub-minimum wage to build yet another imaginative piece of architecture. The road to Dubai is a highway through the sandy desert. It reminds one of the fact that stripped of all of its artificiality, Dubai could just have been another sand strewn city in the Middle East.Instead, Dubai is about exporting and selling dreams. People buy property because other people are buying property, and thus developers built yet more property. Right from the airport, to the shuttle ferrying me into the city, through huge billboards on the side of the road, all I saw were advertisements from the huge number of real estate on sale here. I had heard that over half the world's cranes were in Dubai, and it seemed to be true.Dubai's most famous landmark - the seven star hotel and the accompanying beach resort. I did think about staying here rather than my relative's place - I just didn't have the $4000 per night on hand.Almost missed this! The Burj Dubai, having now replaced the CN tower as the world's tallest free standing structure, in all it's glory.
I took the pictures from the back of a car, and haven't gone out yet (I am up wide awake in the middle of the night here, still going through jet lag). Hopefully, in the coming few weeks, I will get the chance to explore this fascinating city more.