Travel Weekly's Jeri Clausing is on a trip to Dubai and Oman. Her third dispatch follows.
Like I said in my last dispatch, I wasn't sure what to expect in Dubai. My interest in the city was more curiosity than a real desire to experience the destination.
But I have to admit, I like it a lot more than I expected.
Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's a very long trip.
And, yes, it is overpopulated with massive, overpriced shopping malls.
But it's an incredibly, clean, safe, modern and international city, where men and women in traditional Arab attire mingle comfortably with Westerners in their scanty beach attire.
And there are a lot fun things to do here. Where else in the world can you go four-wheel driving in the desert one day and go snow skiing the next?
Granted, the skiing is on a man-made, indoor hill attached to -- what else? -- a shopping mall. But what a kick to go from 100-degree weather to a ski slope.
The "expert run" is more like a bunny hill, and there were definitely none of the moguls like those I try to tackle in Colorado. But I still managed to embarrass myself with a little tumble just as my colleagues were passing me over me on the ski lift.
Emirates Airline executive Nigel Paige says you can’t fully appreciate the beauty of the United Arab Emirates until you explore the desert. We got a small taste with a "Desert Safari and Dune Dinner" sponsored by Arabian Adventures.
First they took us four-wheel driving through the sand dunes, then to a replica of a Bedouin camp where we smoked from a hookah, took camel rides, ate an authentic Arabian meal and watched belly dancing.
My personal favorite was the seaplane ride that gave us an aerial tour of the city and all the islands being built. The sheer magnitude of construction and the number of skyscrapers is almost mind-boggling.
And then, of course, there is the shopping. I am not a big shopper. I prefer the traditional gold, spice and textile souks. There are plenty of those, but a lot more modern shopping malls full of everything from H&M discount apparel to the top designers from Paris.
Despite the economy, there are no bargains. Some of the prices I compared were as much as 50% over what I would pay for the same product in the United States.
But I can see why the city's shopping has attracted people who live in other Middle Eastern countries. I would bet there is not a product made in this world that cannot be found in Dubai.