Yesterday I took on Dubai’s ancient streets, and today I explored the newer side of things. The symbol of this rapidly-evolving desert metropolis is the Burj Khalifa, an 828m-tall skyscraper that is the tallest structure on the planet. It really is an incredible building, and standing at the bottom and looking up at it left me feeling queasy at its immensity – even though I flew my paraglider at three times that height two weeks ago. Is that the sound of your panties dropping, ladies?
I would’ve liked to go to the top of the tower, but it costs 50 bucks to go halfway and I’m too povvo to pay that. I’ll just get some photos off Google and show them to people if they ask. That’s what I do with dick pics. The Dubai Fountain sits in Khalifa’s shadow, and I watched on, entranced, as the monumental water jets danced in time to some beautiful music. Dubai often feels fake, but it really is astonishing that they’ve been able to turn desert into an aquatic oasis.
The Dubai Mall is next to that, and it’s the biggest in the world. Inside the mall are heaps of shops, so if you’re after a new hat or some a whoopee cushion then it’s the place for you. I brushed all that crap, though, and headed to SEGA Republic. With the disappointment of Nagasaki SEGA World fresh in my mind (it totally bombed), I was hoping for the best. It was as disappointing as that crap all-fat-chicks Ghostbusters movie, though, because all the rides were closed and the bloke in the Sonic outfit got shirty when I tried to take a photo of me humping him.
I thought it was strange that a massive shopping centre full of sheikhs didn’t have a single shop selling those funny white sheets and towels they wear. What happens if they run out of clean sheets and have a big date to go out on? Do they just grab a doona cover, wrap it atound themselves, and head out for a nice night of dancing?
As someone who hates shopping centres, the Dubai Mall really started to get on my nerves after a while. It’s loud, there are people everywhere, and it takes an hour to walk from one side to the other. Making things a bit more tolerable is the gigantic fish tank in the middle of the place. Sharks, stingrays and octopuses swim past exclusive clothes shops and fast food restaurants, giving some idea what the world will look like when climate change causes the oceans to rise 500 metres and we all drown. It’s really impressive, but I’d hate to be the person who has to clean it. Shit, my tank at home is only a metre long and it’s filthier than a Kings Cross hooker.
I’m a poor bastard and so I’m staying in a cheap hotel where running water isn’t seen as a necessity, but all the rich picks who come to Dubai stay out at the famous Palm Jumeirah, where rooms run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars a night. I was curious to see what my life would’ve been like had I decided to become a corrupt politician, so I rolled on over there and took the monorail out to the man-made island, which is indeed in the shape of a huge palm. It’s an interesting ride, with luxurious houses, apartments and hotels growing from each of the palm’s gargantuan fronds. I felt poorer the further I went.
The Atlantis Resort at the end of the palm is really lovely, but all the beaches are private and there’s not a whole lot for a poor ol’ backpacker to do. I was standing beside a pie truck, looking sadly at a menu full of food I couldn’t afford, when one of those blokes in a sheet beckoned me over to his table. I was a little reluctant to join him, but took a seat next to the fella anyway.
“You look hungry,” he said in a kind voice. “Please, allow me to buy you a pie.”
I was going to put up a facade of arguing, but figured he was rich as shit and so ordered the most expensive roast chicken pie on the menu.
“My name is Sheikh Abdul el Waleed Aly,” he told me as the food arrived. He then went on to tell me how rich he is, how many cars he owns, how beautiful his wife is. I was torn between sucking up to the Sheikh in the hope he’d buy me a car, and telling him to shut the fuck up because he was boring me. I got stuck into the food, and as I was finishing it, Abdul gave me a slimy smile.
“It is so easy to buy the time and affection of the poor,” he told me. “I just have to wave a free meal in front of your stupid face, and you sit there like an obediant dog. And what is the price of a meal to a man of wealth such as myself? Nothing. Nothing!”
I let him carry on like that for a few minutes because I was too busy stuffing my face with the pie he’d bought me, and eventually he stood up and swept himself away across the street, laughing. Just then, a truck sped by and splashed mud all over his stunning robes, causing the Sheikh to scream at the heavens. I just swaggered ver to him, licking tomato sauce from my fingers, and said, “Thanks for the food. You can find some clean sheets at the nearest Spotlight, dickhead.” And with that, I made my way back into the city.