Day two of the first weekend trip starts pretty much the same as the first one ended; with sand. Lots of it. The winds are really gusting, kicking up sand, silt, dust and Lord knows what else into the sky. The sun is out, but unseen… and this really, well, sucks. Especially considering my plan today was to venture over to the Atlantis the Palm Dubai hotel, resort, Water-park, and general monstrosity. The Palm Jumeirah is the location for Atlantis and is one of those enormous “floating” palm islands you see in the ocean north of Dubai (speak of monstrosities).
Well, given the no sun and the swirling winds nature of the day, Larry suggests we try something of an interior nature: the Dubai Mall. No, this is not the mall with the ski slope – that would be the Mall of the Emirates. And no, this is not the mall with the golf course right next to it; that would be Dubai Festival City.
This is the Dubai mall, the largest retail outlet in the entire world. Yeah, the one with a massive aquarium, full size hockey/skating rink, a giant multi-screen theater, a gold souk, over a 1,000 stores and an outdoor lake/fountain that nearly rivals that of the Bellagio. Oh, and it’s next door to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Yeah, when they say “go big or go home”, you know which one this city chooses.
The Dubai mall is home to what appears to be just about every major fashion brand in the world; over 5 million square feet of shopping all told. I believe some relative perspective is needed here. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (my old home) is spread out of over 4.2 million square feet and has 520 stores. Compare that to the 12 million+ sq ft overall size and 1,200 plus stores at the Dubai Mall and you get an idea. Oh, and for those of my friends in Ft. Lauderdale; the Galleria Mall on Sunrise is 1 million sq. ft. and has 150 stores… get the picture?
No? Alright, Here are some more mind-blowing details (or at least somewhat fascinating ones:
The Olympic-size Dubai Ice Rink can host a capacity of up to 2,000 guests, and converts into a multi-functional hall with world-class multimedia system including a 60 ft. × 30ft.m LED screen; it also houses over 1,800 pairs of skates imported from a leading manufacturer in Italy.
The movie theater? Reel Cinema is a 22 screen megaplex with more than 2,800 seats. Next door is SEGA Republic, a 76,000 sq ft indoor theme park, which features over 150 amusement games.
There are several waterfalls both outside and inside the mall. Two of them feature numerous Silver Surfer dudes diving in midair…. Surreal to say the least.
To say the most would be to mention the Book World by Kinokuniya, easily biggest freaking book store I’ve ever set foot in. It quite literally wraps ¾’s of the way around an enormous turret; take a look at the panoramic picture below to try and get an idea of what I’m talking about. Its numbers are equally impressive: Kinokuniya is a massive 68,000 square feet paragon book gallery which stocks more than a half million books and a thousand magazines in English; Arabic; Japanese; French; German and Chinese at any given time. I have friends (myself included) who can spend an entire day in Barnes and Noble. You could spend a month here.
But, I don’t. Hunger is calling, which leads me to that whole Taco Bell thing mentioned earlier. We had to eat, so we visited the “Food Court” There’s a reason that phrase is in parentheses… the total number of outlets in the food court fluctuates, but there are generally about 160 different places to eat, covering pretty much every type of food the world over. I love what the Dubai Mall website says about the food court: “Whatever the number, there are more than you'll find in any other shopping mall, and enough cholesterol suppliers to keep even the hard core hamburger junkies satisfied. Main Food Court is on the top floor, with an outdoor seating area, and the first Taco Bell in the UAE (if you haven't tried it, it's not that exciting).” AS IF!
Larry, Bernardo and I, with bellies overly full, head over to the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre, which has earned the Guinness World Record for the world's "Largest Acrylic Panel" (90’ wide x 30’ m high). Its 750 mm thick acrylic viewing panel can withstand pressure of 10 million liters of water used in the aquarium, but its transparency gives visitors clear views of over 33,000 marine animals. Oh, and there’s a top part that has all fresh water attractions, and the crème de la cream; a moving tube that takes you under and through the whole attraction. Well, as long as you’re not overly claustrophobic or are paranoid about the thing leaking.
Which it did! Two days before we arrived, apparently water was gushing out of the tank. Don’t believe me, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nSVfMplwC4
We leave the aquarium, exit the mall and cross the exterior bridge to take in the one and only (the cliché really fits here) Burj Khalifa. Here’s what wikipedia has to say about this soaring tower: Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة "Khalifa Tower"), known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010. The building is part of the 2 km2 (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Burj Khalifa at the "First Interchange" along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main business district.
Given the dusty, sandy, crappy nature of the day, the Burj is shrouded in a haze that makes taking pictures hardly ideal, but it’s still impressive to stand at the base and try to take it all in without requiring a chiropractor afterwards. I’m pretty sure most of my friends know that on any given day, I’ll be the first person to stand in a ridiculously long line (unless it’s freezing cold in Chicago Jenna!) to get to the top of anything. However, the visibility is nil, and they’re not letting anyone up today anyways... my curious nature wonders why... You see, it seems just last week the elevator broke and 15 people were trapped for 45 minutes on the 124th floor. Yep, both the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall Aquarium (separated by about a football filed) both broke. From what I heard, visitors on the observation deck a half-mile-high heard a loud boom, then saw dust that looked like smoke seeping through a crack in an elevator door. One of the people actually trapped in the elevator said that the lights went off and the car began to fall before the brakes kicked in. Yeah, you read that right.
People, that’s 1,600 feet in the air. If it was me, I would probably be thinking, “when the hell is Keanu gonna rescue me?”