Am i the only one who looks at the word ‘desert’ and wonders if i spelt it right??
Well, a few facts about Dubai-It’s in a desert. Yup, that about covers it. The sky is permanently blue, the sand brown and the sun hot. Quite the setting for ice cold deserts….uhh, desserts. The Mac Donald (not Mariga) franchise understood this and had delicious ice cream cones on sale for just 1 dirham (kshs 25). Every time we’d eat out a search for the closest Mac Donald’s would ensue. Need i speak about the need to go jogging again?? But Dubai, i really didn’t feel like jogging around the marina. The Marina,that’s the area where I was being hosted. A man made water body covering about 5km2 around which was built numerous highrise apartment buildings.
The view from the apartment balcony encompassed the block’s swimming pool in the foreground with docked boats and restaurants lining most of the water front. The place could only be defined as picturesque, serene…especially at night with the reflection of the illuminated buildings on the water’s surface. The view from the apartment gym, now that was amazing. An elevated view of the wind lashed waters with the occasional yatch cruising by or sports buffs lazily rowing by on their surf boards. Considering both options of jogging or gyming It was quite a simple choice to make. Jogging would not be a stationary exercise and as such I would have a varying view during my lap round the marina but it would only work my legs and provide cardio. Plus i figured its something I could do anywhere. Having access to a gym is not an everyday occasion and the view I just described was pretty epic. Exercise of choice was thus: Gyming hands down! Plus I’ve always kind of loved the muscle gaining aspect of gym (do not judge-I am still feminine). I jus appreciate the fact that the more muscle you have the more fat you burn.
But this post is not about exercise, its about Dubai being a desert. In a desert one kind of expects to be hit by all manner of sandstorms, be burnt by the scorching sun and die from the blistering heat but ALAS! Everything I could see pointed to a tropical paradise.
How now?? The grass and trees lining the footpaths were a deep green hue, the parks and front expanses of certain compounds were the freshest shade of green I have ever seen. I didn’t manage to peek into the Royals’ compounds because they were ensconced within high white walls but I’m sure their plants were watered with mineral water.
The question is how does one maintain such vegetation within such a climate. Whoever the Sheikhs paid to figure out that answer did a good job, and I am sure it didn’t come cheap. The vegetation lining the walkways has a network of pipes zig zagging through it. The pipes are part of the watering system. The system is switched on at night when the temperatures are lower thus allowing a larger amount of water to infiltrate the soil rather than evaporate.
The water used for watering is recycled from their waste treatment plants and as such it is not quite a great idea to walk around in the dead of night for your nostrils shall get watered as well.
My sister, who was once based in Dubai for about 5 years, further explained that the green desert is more a facade. A facade put forth to attract tourists and investors. Who would want to go spend money in a dry barren waste land and hope their money would bear fruit?? As such, these are the fictitious facts of the matter:
-the trees planted around the city are replaced every 1-2 months as the salinity of the soils is such that they cannot survive any longer.
-The parks and quads have grass one would only ever see on a golf course’s putting range. How this grass is maintained soo pristine and green is beyond me.
-Bottled water is cheaper than it is here in Kenya…Hence my idea that the royals must water their lawns with the stuff.
-Their exist the exclusive neighbourhoods of bungalowed properties. Picture Muthaiga but now with a perfection and symettry to the layout of everything up to the last hedge or bush.
On the other hand the desert isn’t entirely ‘green’ but in this sense I mean in their carrying out of environmentally friendly practices. The city that goes alive at night with all manner of flashing, rolling and sparkly lights is powered mainly by diesel driven generators . Diesel!! Their carbon emissions are thus off the charts widening that hole in the ozone layer whose spread we are trying very hard to curtail.
My last day in Dubai Susan treated me to a Desert safari (I guess to finally put things straight once and for all that we were after all in a desert). The drivers come and pick you up from your home and then set off to the outskirts where the untouched sand dunes exist. This was about a 40min drive out of the city…i slept…transit sleep bana-we’d had a late night the day before that involved a Female Dj saving my life.
The 4 x 4s we were in were Toyota Landcruisers. Massive semi -automatic vehicles I soo wouldn’t mind having on hand. We formed a convoy of about 30 cars by the time we got to the dunes. The moment we got on the sand the drivers all got out and released some pressure from the tyres(the physics behind it being the lower the pressure the larger the surface area of the tyre in contact with the sand). The dunes were massive. The sand fine tiny grains that slipped so sensually through one’s toes merely walking barefoot through them could be considered sin.
They gave us a short Paparazzi time out to take pics while the sun set then off we went ‘dune bashing’. Up and down the dunes we went, the car slipping down their faces at times because of the steep incline. Adrenaline baby!! I was quite literally on the edge of my seat trying to hold still so i could get a few video shots with my camera but to no avail. I have been converted. I want a 4-WD when i’m older. So i can go bundu-bashing with the family or with friends. Driving a beast of a machine to do stuff even it strains to do,now that would be fun. Anyone in?? We stopped for dinner in the middle of the desert, a compound they had set up to look like a traditional arabic village. There was a raised stage in the centre skirted all round by carpets spread on the sand. Low rise tables were perched on the carpets. The tables had cushions we were supposed to sit on but boy was it uncomfortable eating from them. After some traditional arabic entertainment (read belly dancing) it was time to call it a night……..And for me, a holiday to remember.