The Great Southern Route : 2013 - 2014
CAPTAIN'S LOG MIDDLE EAST 290 | GSR are tourist attractions in themselves. The Mall of the Emirates is the home of Ski Dubai, indoor snow skiing available year round! You can take a desert safari in a 4WD followed by a stop at a Bedouin camp for traditional food, dancing and a camel ride. Play golf on one of the numerous world class courses designed by some of the biggest names in golf. Take a sightseeing flight from Jebel Ali Hotel and see Dubai by air. The flight will take you over Palm Jebel Ali , Palm Jumeirah, the iconic Burj al Arab Hotel, over The World project, past Burj Dubai which at 860m is the tallest manmade structure in the world. You'll also pass over Dubai Creek and much more on a 30 minute flight which takes off and lands on the water. There are also double-decker bus tours that enable you to leave and rejoin at any stop of the tour, traditional water taxis, called abras used to cross the creek or dinner cruises along the the East African Coast. From this initial hub the town has spread into a large vibrant modern city, home to a multicultural, multi-religious population. Although a Muslim country the locals are tolerant and understanding of its expatriate community which does account for approximatly 80 per cent of the population. This openness has paved the way for the tourism industry to thrive and expand at an incredible rate so much so that it is predicted to generate more revenue than oil shortly. There are in excess of 50 four- and five-star hotels in Dubai alone with many more under construction. With the constant challenge of "outdoing a rival" it is somewhat of a marriage of Las Vegas and Disneyland with the latest addition being Atlantis on the tip of the newly-built Palm Jumeirah. The region has become a hub for commercial airlines with an incredible list of destinations available and numerous daily flights available to most destinations. The road network is constantly being upgraded and expanded to meet the demands of the growing population. Taxis are easy to find and are very cheap by Western standards. There is also a new metro system that connects most of the city and the prices will make this a very viable and attractive proposition for daily transport. The local currency AED, known as the Dirham is pegged to the US Dollar at 1 USD = 3.66 Dirham. Baksheesh or bribes are not part of the culture here and usually service charges are included in the bill at establishments. People sometimes ask me "why should we come to Dubai?" Yes, for the summer months it is hot and humid and not uncommon to have daytime temperatures in excess of 45 degrees Celsius. However while Europe shivers, the UAE enjoys a warm, comfortable dry climate and in the winter months, temperatures are recorded in the evenings below 10 Celsius. Dubai is known for many things. It is host to the richest horse race and the richest golf tournament in the world and hosts dozens of other world class events. It is known for its shopping and shopping malls, some of which creek to give you another perspective of Dubai. Adjacent to the creek are the gold and spice souks which have immense range of products that have to be viewed to be appreciated. As I mentioned earlier, there are a large number of hotels in Dubai. The dining options from all over the world on offer at these hotels and of course at a number of other restaurants and venues is hard to imagine. There is something for everybody and don't forget to enquire about Dubai's famous Friday brunch. Most hotels offer enormous spreads of delicacies presented and diners "graze" for hours. True decadence! Being as tolerant and aware of tourism as the city is, you will find that most hotels have full bar service, and you will also find the likes of Irish pubs and nightclubs in this cosmopolitan, modern city. Public drunkenness however is not accepted so you would be well advised to enjoy the all inclusive lunches in moderation. The region is used to handling great quantities of commercial shipping but private yachting is still in its infancy in regards to vessels visiting from outside the Gulf Region. Entrance and exit formalities can be completed by the captain, and the Customs and Immigration personnel are pleasant to deal with, but in reality I would highly recommend the use of an agent to expedite the whole process. It would also be prudent to ensure a berth is booked before you arrive as space at present in marinas is scarce. As I say this however, there are a number of new marinas that have just come online or are about to, mainly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi emirates. There are two marinas in the heart of Dubai with minimum water depths of five metres catering to boats of up to 35m. These marinas are ideally located within five minutes of the old town and airport. To reach these marinas however you have to pass under two bridges, one opening nightly but the other only operating two nights per week. There are other berths downstream of the bridges that an agent may be able to arrange. A new Maritime City development at the mouth of the creek has recently opened. This has marina berthing and also repair facilities with a syncro lift of 6000 tonne capacity. Along the coastline near the Burj al Arab seven- star hotel and Jumeirah Palm development are several more marinas and more are due in the near future. Further away from the city near the new international airport, due to open late 2010, is Jebel Ali Spa and Golf Resort which has a marina, hotel and nine hole golf course. The new Palm Jebel Ali is offshore from here and has created one of the best all weather anchorages and watersport areas on the coast. Further down the coast at Abu Dhabi there are numerous marinas under construction. The most notable new marina, Yas Island, was developed in association with the new Formula One race track to create an environment similar to that at Monaco, where can watch the race from your yacht. The region is full of opportunities to explore some of the most talked-about places in the world and some of those least well known too. The Gulf is opening its arms to private maritime traffic from around the world and you now have the opportunity to experience all it has to offer with the confidence that the facilities you need are at your disposal.
2010 - 2011