Muscat Is Her Second Home Now
Letter from Oman! At the end of the semester, Salome Bader took a trip to Dubai.
Feb 22, 2016
Dubai. My first associations were luxury, extraordinary construction projects, and a glittering world in the desert. After my visit, I now know that Dubai has much more to offer. And, contrary to my expectations, I liked it very much. Of course, there is luxury, ostentation, and megalomania – even in the various shopping malls. Each one has its own attraction – a ski slope, a huge aquarium with sharks, a skating rink, or a five-story waterfall. Besides that there are hundreds of stores distributed over at least four stories, from Chanel and Prada to Mango and H&M – to accommodate various incomes.
But Dubai also has older, more traditional districts. One of them is Al Ras, located directly next to the Dubai Creek. Here there are several different markets located close together: the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk, and the Naif Souk. During the day there is busy hustle and bustle among many commercial enterprises. Goods are loaded and unloaded and offered for sale with much loud and persistent clamoring. Many of the vendors speak several languages – but we were still very surprised when one of them described his entire spice assortment in German. This is an indication of the many tourists who visit Dubai and contribute to the international, multicultural flair of the city.
The Tallest Building in the World
One of the highlights of Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, the Khalifa Tower, which is 828 meters tall and the tallest building in the world. Of course, we wanted to take the elevator to the top – at least to the 124th floor– because it costs quite a bit more to go even higher. But the first observation deck at 452 meters offers a great view over the city, which suddenly seems small and not only consisting of skyscrapers, but also industrial areas and no man's land. In spite of its modern infrastructure and skyscrapers, Dubai is still a city built in the middle of the desert.
Multicultural and Traditional
During my trip, I was constantly comparing Dubai with Oman or at least Muscat. While the streets of Dubai are dominated by skyscrapers, the subway, and people dressed in any kind of clothing, the main impression in Muscat is of dishdashas, solitary skyscrapers, and the towers of mosques. In Muscat, we are immediately noticed as European girls, but not in Dubai – which was really very pleasant. In Oman, national identity and traditions are stressed more, whereas Dubai seems very multicultural and international.
Both countries have their own charm. Visiting Dubai was finally an opportunity to visit a large city again and to enjoy the associated amenities such as public transportation, glass skyscrapers with unique architectural features, and streets filled with people until late into the night. The city has a lot to offer its visitors, especially under the motto "the more money, the more opportunities."
I enjoyed being immersed in the big-city glamour, and it was a welcome break from Muscat. And I realized how much I miss Berlin (especially the subway). But on the way back to Muscat, I realized that by now I feel so at home there, that I was looking forward to returning "home": to my second home, which Muscat has become.