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Middle East

Culture, Tech

A trip to Dubai – A trip into the future

Dubai is an urban metropolis which sits on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf and is was built out of an unchained imagination, without the barriers of usual thinking and limited finances. Dubai is the second largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates and also the biggest city in the country – that’s right; Dubai is both a city and an emirate.

Although there are many traces of human habitation and settlements in the city, which are centuries old, the official founding of Dubai took place in the 19th century, the city continues to change every day, almost like it is still being built today, unlike any other place on Earth. Unlike the other emirates and its constant rival within UAE, Abu Dhabi, this global metropolis has a more Western approach to politics and economics – contrary to what would fly in most Arab nations, more than 30% of the upper level government officials are women. One reason which makes it one of the most open and developed places in the Middle East. Billions of dollars were and are still being spent on building and development in Dubai.

Dubai is a constitutional monarchy, there are no elections and the Al Maktoum family has run it ever since its modern beginnings almost two hundred years ago. The members of the family occupy the most important functions in the state and the emir ruler of Dubai is also the prime minister of UAE. One of the most unbelievable features of the emirate of Dubai is that only 10-15% of the inhabitants are actual nationals, the rest being made up by expats, a grand part of them being foreign workers involved in the many projects sprawling everywhere. Building the city of Dubai is a constant fact, each new project being more impressive and imaginative than the previous. This innovation and lack of boundaries is thanks to a no-limit spending mentality, mostly fed by money that was earned from oil. Now Dubai is depending on tourism and other industries to keep fueling its thriving economy.

With so many foreigners working and living in Dubai, it has become a very international city. Travelers can find some traces of the old Dubai and the authentic Arab heritage, but you’ll have to search for it. Dubai has become world famous for its awe-inspiring skyline, filled by majestic and spectacular buildings, many of them breaching the limits of human limits, with several that were developed exceptionally big or tall, breaking records. One example of the grand scale of things that Dubai is harboring include the Burj Khalifa tower, the biggest building in the world at over 800 meters, without any contenders at this dreadful height, the Burj al-Arab hotel, promoting itself as the only 7 stars hotel in the world, the Palm Islands that appeared in the middle of the ocean, the Dubai Fountain and so many other wonders. It is like Dubai is challenging the entire world and trying to be the best at everything, becoming sort of a dream city, a futuristic tourist destination, almost entirely built in the last few decades, from nothing. Although it is the pinnacle of luxury and high-end tourism, travelers can also find an overwhelming amount of interesting things to see and do in Dubai, including part of the old city that show how life used to be in this modern oasis.

Dubai is a wonderful and inspiring place to visit, even for people who are not impressed by the sky breaching engineering marvels that spring out like mushrooms. Dubai is a testament to the power of the will of mankind, transformed from a city in the desert, to one of the biggest and fastest growing hubs of the world, filled with people from around the world and challenging the boundaries of understanding.

 

Dubai – A trip into the future.

Travel Tips

Traveling with Food Allergies Internationally

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH FOOD SENSITIVITIES OR ALLERGIES

Some places are easier than others , but nearly everything in Asia for instance is pre prepared with any number of coatings and/or sauces – all of which contain anonymous ingredients. Although this is part of the wondrous experience for most, those of you with any sort of allergy or sensitivity may feel a sense of paralysis.

Not to worry – you can maintain a very selective diet everywhere in the world that works for gluten free, celiac, vegetarians, vegans, and those avoiding candida.

At the start of our trip I experienced an allergic reaction severe enough that I had to cut all of the unknowns out of my diet to reset my system. I am going to give you a step by step on how to maintain the exact diet you need while in any foreign land. It helps if you are traveling with someone that understands and supports your needs, but it’s not overly debilitating either way…

Make yourself some form of an allergy card in the local language.  You can make it on your phone translator (or even on paper – have a local write it for you). This way you can easily communicate the things you are allergic to, and hopefully stay clear of harmful ingredients.  You can also get allergy cards laminated online before your trip if you plan ahead….

If you do not trust restaurants, you can also prepare your own food – this is how I did it:

  1. Buy whole fruits and vegetables from the local farmers – this can be done easily in most locations.  If you don’t pass stands on the street, ask.  Nearly every country in Asia has them lining the streets, where you can buy entire bags of fruits/veggies for a few US dollars.
  2. Shop in the expat style grocery stores.  There are many different names across around the world, but a quick google search will give you a useful list with proximity to your lodging.
  3. Delivery is king in many major cities.  You can have any number of expat grocery stores deliver to you – view a few options here.  In big cities like Shanghai, you can also have any food within the city delivered to you via Food Sherpas.  My personal favorite for eating out in Shanghai quickly became Pure and Whole – you can read their menu here.
  4. When you arrive at your hotel/hostel/guesthouse assess the situation. Do you have a fridge in your room?  Is there a shared kitchen?  I have dealt with the best situation (having a condo with your own kitchen) to the worst situation (washing vegetables with bottled water in the bathroom sink, having a single cutting knife that the front desk gave me, plastic silverware I bought at the store, and two plates that the hotel lent me).
  5. If you want to eat things in Asia that don’t work well with chopsticks, you probably want to buy your own silverware somewhere along the way.  There are some hotels that are not westernized and will not carry anything besides chopsticks – their diets just don’t require it.
  6. Buy things at the store you can snack on, nuts, dried fruit, rice cakes – whatever it may be, have it in your bag at all times in case you cannot get somewhere and are starving.  I can almost guarantee you will not be able to find suitable food on the street in some places throughout Africa or Asia without conducting serious research first.
  7. Carry your staples in your bag, so that you can turn any chopped up vegetables off the street into a meal.  Salt, pepper, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic, whatever it is that you are used to seasoning your meals with – throw it in a backpack and consider it part of your walking pantry 🙂

And lastly, when you feel adventurous – find the little street vendors that chop up meat and veggies to throw it on the grill.  These most commonly exist in places with middle eastern influence, but I’ve seen them all over the world.  You can literally watch them cook and will know exactly what is going into your meal.

Hope these short tips help you stay well on your journey!  Eating in certain places of the world can be a little rough on the body and there are many ingredients in the food that you never know about…so if you have any food allergies, these steps should keep you happy and healthy!