Thursday, June 02, 2005

Where in the world ARE we ?

The United Arab Emirates consists of seven "emirates" or sheikhdoms - each operating independently, but together (supposedly!) Of the seven emirates, Abu Dhabi is by far the largest, constituting 80% of the nation's land area (about the size of Austria). This includes some 200 islands. The emirate is also known as Abu Zhabi, so as not to confuse it with the city of Abu Dhabi and is one of the richest emirates.
It is not in Iran or Iraq, it is not near Iran or iraq, it is not at war with Iran or Iraq and you cannot see Iran, Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan, even if you look north or south!

It seems Dubai (one of the other emirates) cannot stop building the world's biggest and best things. The obsession started with the Palm, the world's largest artificial island and now another two are being built (next door), each bigger and better than the original. Construction is about the start on the world's tallest tower, which is already being challenged by another one - both in Dubai! They are part of the world's largest waterfront development project.

They will soon have the world's biggest theme park, tallest hotel, longest indoor ski slope, largest man-made port and the greatest capacity airport. Not to mention the world's tallest wheel - bigger than the London Eye (at a cost of US$150billion). We have just visited the world's longest mall - in Dubai.

And finally, we think they are going for the record of the world's MOST construction sites at any one time. It seems as if every inch of space has a partially completed building with a dozen cranes for roof decorations (Harold Johnson would be proud!!)

Hey!! We even saw the biggest gumball machine we've every seen .... in Dubai.

Dubai is the more well-known and popular emirate, but Abu Zhabi is fast losing its reputation of being an outback, backward oilfield, and is promoting itself very well as a tourist destination in its own right.

Dubai is about 120 kilometres from Abu Dhabi (the city), and it takes approximately 1,5 hours to get there on a magnificent eight lane highway which is almost as straight (and as boring!) as an airport runway.

Abu Dhabi (the city) is an island separated from the mainland by a thin stretch of water. The best way to describe the shape of the island of Abu Dhabi is to compare it with a T-bone steak!!

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