DUBAI The United Arab Emirates – aka SimCity

I decided to spend 9 days in Dubai for one reason.  Skydiving.  Skydive Dubai has created a great reputation amongst jumpers around the world as one of the best places to skydive. It has two drop zones, one on the palm and the skydiving school in the desert. There is also a great wind tunnel for indoor skydiving, as well as one in a mall for shoppers to give a go.

I did not even make it through customs before the excitement started. After my having my bags searched I quickly realised that I was going to have an interesting week in what I nicknamed “SimCity”.

Before leaving for Dubai I was searching on the web and talking to friends in regards to what is and isn’t allowed in this strict port. I knew the UAE is extremely intolerant of drugs and pornography. Though I was unsure about prescription medications and supplements. I planned on taking a selection of body and mind supplements with me, the problem was that many of these supplements where in capsules. Capsules that could technically contain anything other than what’s on the label. After I went through passport control I picked up my suitcases and as I was exiting I could see airport workers spot me from some distance. This was the moment I learnt what it was like to be “randomly selected” for a search at the airport. After my bags were run through a scanner, I was brought to a cubicle on the side with steel benches. I immediately pulled my skydiving rig out to show the officer that I was a skydiver. After I did that he looked then straight away started asking me to empty the other bags. As he searched through everything I was asked what I did for work etc. Then I was asked if I smoked. Then asked if I had ever smoked before, what I had smoked, what I had tried etc. The best question was “ what about when you were younger and all the cool kids were smoking the green stuff, did you try it then?” It was trivial, though I was still concerned they would start checking over everything with a swab machine, which could turn into a lengthy procedure. All my supplements were looked over, he gave me strange looks when he saw my Shakti mat, which is a mat covered in plastic spikes, like a modern day bed of nails. My favorite moment was when he opened a small plastic bottle containing hair chalk that has been in my toiletries bag for some time. He started spraying the hair chalk around the air saying “ this is not for hair”. I couldn’t contain myself and had to laugh when he did that. Then he smiled at me and sad I was free to go.

Nothing happens fast in Dubai. Even though there is workers paid to do simple tasks like put your parking ticket in a machine, press a button on an elevator and push your chair in when you sit down. Everything is slow. I am sure the traditionally dressed locals with their tablet devices and new cars that have a warning beep for anything forgotten before driving out of the parking space may have managed to boost efficiency to some extent, but everything is still slow. It actually took until my last day in Dubai to visit the city. I doubt I would have at all if the drop zone weren’t closed. Walking around the shopping malls I felt as though everything was artificial. It felt as if I was in the online world and I was an avatar roaming through a virtual reality. The transactions being made, the items being purchased as well as the decorations all seemed to be of no real use to human survival. There was designer store after designer store full of highly overpriced products that most often did not have any one inside. If there were any one it would usually be someone already with loads of shopping bags on their arm or someone looking at an item considering a purchase looking some what dazed and hypnotized.

Apparently the idea of Dubai is to build up the city for when the oil runs out to keep the money coming in. I can’t help but wonder if the purpose of all the stores and attractions is for when the oil runs out. What is going to run the place? Oil is used to manufacture everything. Every transaction being made has oil involved in one way or another. It now takes over 10 calories of energy from oil to make 1 calorie of food.  As the city has been built so fast for modern times I can’t help but think how amazing it would have been if the city was built with a goal of being free of fossil fuels and carbon emissions also. I am not really into science fiction, however I can’t help but romanticize over a real eco city in the desert. It would be pretty amazing. At a short glance, it’s not as if they don’t have the space for solar panels.

Without looking too deeply into things, Dubai is an awesome place for a short trip. There really is plenty to do. Many activities and adventures to choose from. I woke up one day and couldn’t decide between the beach or going snowboarding, so I packed my beach clothes, thermal top and ski gloves then headed to the beach. The water was super warm, the beach was covered with people from all over the world and the sun managed to burn me. After feeling tired from the heat and enjoying a delicious burrito I took a 20 minute cab journey to the local ski slope. The worlds first indoors ski park. I felt as though the whole concept was so ridiculous I had to see it. I thought it can’t be that bad as I had been indoor skydiving all week also. It was actually fun. It takes a few minutes to get to the top, then 30 seconds to get down. I did manage to have fun for a few hours. I also think it would be great for people who may not get the opportunity to ski or snowboard on real snow.  I do admire the people who come up with ideas such as indoor skiing and skydiving. Making something that was impossible possible. Making exciting activities more accessible to the masses. Also in many cases providing a safer option for a similar experience.IMG_2078

One thing I must give credit about is the fact you can get everything you need in Dubai. I have no idea where it comes from, but you can get high quality fresh food if you look in the right places. Many people don’t like the fact it is hard to drink, though personally I don’t think the strict regulations are really bad. There are so many other things to do.

The most positive aspect of Dubai has to be the diverse mix of cultures. There are literally people from all over the world. I was jumping out of planes with people from many different countries. People who practice different religions ( or non religious) as well as all different races and walks of life. The media and global powers may try and ignite fear and emotions towards people who are different to us, but it’s times like this when you can be 100% we are all the same.

I got the vibe that many of the expats make their own communities and families to enjoy Dubai life. I felt this most strongly with the skydivers, though I also saw it with flight attendants. I can only imagine it happens with other industries in Dubai.  I am sure people still do get in communities and social circles by race here, but I do felt that there is more multicultural communities than I have experienced elsewhere. I love it.IMG_2082

So if you are considering Dubai as a stop over on the way to another country, or a longer trip for adventures and skydiving I say do it! It is expensive, but it’s fun. You will find yourself getting up to some things you will not find easily elsewhere!

I will post an article about my skydiving and tunnel experiences soon.

Ian at Bucketlist

Hi, I’m Ian and I have made it my life mission to travel and experience everything this world has to offer. Follow me on my quest to live outside the boundaries of conventional society and see the world through the eyes of all our fellow inhabitants. I hope to inspire and motivate you to make your own path in life and push your own limits.

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