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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

12/11: Dubai's Jumeira Janes, Chicago Beach & Mega Fountain!

After wandering the Dubai Museum, taking abras across Dubai Creek and getting 'all souked out' exploring so many souks, we walked back to the hotel to get the car by 3:15 so we could discover areas of the city further afield.
Dubai's version of the Dollar Store - guess that should be the Dirham Store as dirhams are the currency in the United Arab Emirates!
I found the cascading roof of this building appealing - don't know which it was though.
A nod to my fellow Canadian readers: The Second Cup coffee franchise even had a location in Dubai! See the Fuddruckers logo too? Unfortunately, the hamburger chain closed all its restaurants in Denver back in 2010.
Our first stop was Jumeirah, a district that paralleled the coast for several miles but was only about three blocks wide on either side of the main Jumeirah Road for that entire area. Jumeirah was one of Dubai's wealthiest residential areas, and home to many of the city's rich European expat executives and ''their tanned and manicured wives popularly known as Jumeirah Janes''! 

The district was home to the Grand Mosque, built entirely of white stone in the 1970s, and one of the cit's largest mosques. With its pair of soaring minaret and intricately filigreed domes, it was perhaps the most attractive mosque in Dubai.

The Grand Mosque was the only mosque that non-Muslims could visit but, alas, only via tours run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding six mornings a week. The Centre was an unique institution "founded by Sheikh Mohammed in 1995 to build bridges between cultures and help visitors and expats understand the traditions and customs of the UAE." The mosque has become the focal point of the Centre's "Open Doors. Open Minds" program.
Fortunately, no one barred Steven from entering the mosque so he discreetly took some photos to show me its interior.

Immediately across the street from the mosque was a Starbucks which seemed like an odd place initially to locate the coffee behemoth. In the same strip mall was a Haggen Dazs outlet too - guess people need a fix of caffeine and ice cream after so much praying!
I noticed both the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai had a fascination with large openings between attached buildings. 
Driving through Jumeirah did indeed feel like we were in a non-Arab enclave as we only saw Westerners on the street and in the many cafes. The area was full of American and Canadian dental clinics and medical centers, spas, aesthetic clinics, wellness centers and the like - all very bizarre.

Part of Dubai's skyline close to dusk:
Every single home we saw in the wealthy Jumeirah district was behind high walls and all were gated communities. None looked very appealing from the little we could observe.

After driving the length and breadth of Jumeirah, we entered the adjacent suburb of Umm Suqeim, although the entire area was usually, if inaccurately, referred to as Jumeirah. We drove inland the few blocks to the beach hoping to find a place to park so we could enjoy the waning sunset on the beach. Far too many other people must have had the same brilliant idea before we did as there was no parking spaces to be had!

Umm Suqeim was home to three of Dubai's most famous landmarks. The first of the area's supersized attractions that overlooked the Arabian Gulf was the sprawling Jumeirah Beach Hotel or JBH with its wavelike shape.

Towering over the coastline just beyond the JBH was the stupendous Burj Al Arab Hotel that opened in 1999. Also known as the Tower of the Arabs, the luxury hotel is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. However, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Burj Al Arab stood on an artificial island 920 ft from Jumeirah Beach and was connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The hotel's defining feature was its shape of a huge, billowing spinnaker sail of a J-class yacht. It was constructed from Teflon-coated glass fiber that was a dazzling white by day and lit up with spectacular light displays after dark.
The high-rise hotel is said to be "Dubai's most memorable modern landmark with its distinctive, instantly recognizable outline providing the city with a defining landmark to rival the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and Big Ben." I would have thought the city's ginormous Burj Khalifa that we'd seen the previous day would have been the city's 'defining landmark.'

After much searching, we were finally able to find a parking spot a few blocks from the beach. I wandered over to the beach for a bit while Steven took a cat nap in the car. The beach was just beautiful shortly before sunset.
The beachfront area where Burj Al Arab was located was strangely enough previously called Chicago Beach and was the site of the former Chicago Beach Hotel. The locale's name had its origins in the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company which at one time welded giant floating oil storage tanks on the site. The old name persisted after the old hotel was demolished in 1997. Dubai Chicago Beach Hotel remained as the name for the construction phase of Burj Al Arab Hotel until Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the new name.

Immediately south of Burj al Arab was the mighty Madinat Jumeirah complex that opened in 2004. Considered to be one of Dubai's most memorable developments, it was built in the form of a self-contained faux-Arabian city with huge sand-colored buildings topped with countless wind towers and crisscrossed by miniature canals on which guests at the complex's hotels are ferried around by abras.

We only walked around for a short while because Dubai's 13th Annual International Film Festival was taking place at the same time so it was rather chaotic.

We drove inland from the Madinat Jumeirah and along the 12 lane-wide Sheikh Zayed Highway, back to the glitzy Dubai Mall. We'd stopped by there yesterday but wanted to return to view the 'spectacular' Dubai Fountain at night.
Returning to the downtown area, it was hard not to be struck again by the magnificent skyscrapers that dotted both sides of the major highway.
It was amazing to read that there were 100,000 hotel rooms in the city but even so, there are often no rooms available to rent!
The 12 million sq ft mall with over 1,200 shops spread across four floors was so enormous we needed a a ten page guide and also exact directions where we had parked our car in the biggest parking garage we'd ever come across!
Do you remember the large lake we walked all the way around to reach the mall after passing the Burj Khalifa in yesterday's post? If so, that was where we'd returned so we could see the incredible Dubai Fountain. As you can see, there were massive numbers of people who also had the same idea that evening!
The 902 ft high fountain was illuminated with over 6,000 lights and had water cannons capable of shooting jets of water almost 500 feet high!

We were glad we'd returned to see the Fountain but I thought the light display at the Burj Khalifa looked far more spectacular!

The 'performance' only lasted three minutes so it seemed over before we knew it and there were far fewer lights than we expected.

Perhaps Steven and I have become jaded after being so incredibly lucky touring and visiting so many of the world's so-called Top Attractions, that the Dubai Fountain left us a little 'meh'. Yes, it was beautiful and attractive but was it worth the hike back across the city to see it? I don't think so in hindsight, but I would have hated to miss it and wondered what we might have left unseen!

Next up: A day trip to Sharjah, a city north of Dubai.

Posted on March 14th, 2017, from Littleton, Colorado.


  1. you guys are certainly seeing (saw) a lot, wow! Thanks for sharing!

  2. nice post with fantastic information about Dubai's Jumeira Janes, Chicago Beach & Mega Fountain!


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