Entry Info

22nd (Thu)
Apr 2010

[day48] Dubai’s Prosperity

Dubai's ProsperityAfter the very inquisitive customs, I at length managed to enter Dubai. Incidentally, since there are few cheap hostels in Dubai according to hostelworld, I had to use a middle class hotel which set me back about 100 USD per night. There were in fact slightly cheaper options if I'd tried harder but it would've cost more than my budget anyway. Therefore only for this occasion I allowed myself to stay in a decent hotel named "Xclusive Hotel Apartments" which received many good reviews at hotels.com. This hotel is as well used for a sort of service apartment for long staying visitors and its spec was awesome. A suite room with a king size bed could be the best hotel of this trip. What's more they provided free wi-fi and airport transportation too. Considering these facts and Dubai's market, I would say their price was very reasonable. Nevertheless, it was not meant for backpackers, certainly.

Dubai's ProsperityWell, I arrived at Dubai but as always had no ideas what to do there. Questioned to the front desk about any interesting places around the area, they suggested going to Dubai Mall and I made a go for it. Though Dubai's prices are as high as Japan's, the taxi fare was not too bad. It cost about 20 AED (6 USD approx.) for 20 minutes driving. The buildings seen through the taxi's window looked like the world from Sim City.

Dubai's ProsperityDubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in Dubai and it seemed to me looking similar to some Japanese top level shopping complex like Roppongi Hills. However the scale of Dubai Mall is much grander than the Japanese ones. Walking through the whole complex in a day would be very challenging as it has movie theatres, an ice skating rink and even an aquarium. Although "Dubai Shock" is a buzz word in these days, the economic situation in the mall looked good and there are so many visitors from all over the world as well as local Arabic people.

Dubai's ProsperityOnce I went out from the mall, an astoundingly high building appeared in my sight. Burj Khalifa (which used to called Burj Dubai during the construction) is by far the tallest building of the world. Though it has been completed the main construction, the working at outskirts were still in progress. The building has more than 800 meter height with 200 floors and in other words it is three times higher than Tokyo Midtown which is the highest building in Tokyo. My iPhone camera finally couldn't capture the whole building. However, I really enjoyed photo shooting since I'd expected this situation and brought a tripod with wide angle lenses. Although I had to concentrate hard not to accidentally capture any passersby, I suppose I did take some nice ones.

By the way, I was actually thinking about the politics in Dubai. Dubai is the one of United Arab Emirates; namely it is a country of Arabian Kings. I had to rethink about autocracy even though I studied at Japanese education system which worships democracy. In a way, autocracy actually has its merit.

Dubai's ProsperityThe kings at Middle East are born as super rich and brought up with kingcraft educations. As they are always thinking about how to make their countries, which are literary owned by the kings, more prosperous, their visions towards the future of the countries are very clear. Dubai is making a big airport and office complexes in order to be a centre of the international business and Abu Dhabi the chief of UAE has been investing an astronomical amount of money into clean energy technologies for the post oil era. They are totally different from the politicians selected by popularity polls, holding back each other and ending up with cheap lavishing politics. It is said that too many cooks spoil the broth and maybe a strong leadership could make things better.

I know these aggressive investments of the Middle East countries are based on the rich oil money but maybe we can still learn a lot of things from them.

Entry Info

I've been travelling with iPhone and in fact this gadget is amazingly useful. With this entry I'll introduce reasons why all the travellers should have iPhone and applications which make your travel easy from a traveller's point of view.

1000s music in your pocket! (Touch: OK)

Though it's a kind of obvious factor, music is absolutely essential for travelling. What's more, the integrated speaker makes reasonably loud sound and it's possible to play BGM in dorm rooms.

Making phone calls in case of emergency (Touch: NG)

As the loaming plan will be applied, we must be careful for the amount of usages but having a phone which can connect everywhere gives me a sense of security. Besides the international SMS is not too expensive and can be easily used for contacting with local people.

GPS & Electric compass support your sense of navigation (Touch: NG)

With the electric compass, you can get through in case of losing the way in an unfamiliar town. Though native google map app doesn't support caching the data, with the other apps mentioned later, the GPS becomes killer function of all.

Ubiquitous photo shooting with the integrated camera (Touch: NG)

Though the quality of images is inferior to the normal compact cameras, it is way handy than any other cameras. Personally, I make use of this as a sub camera of DSLR. I like this as I don't need to motivate myself "Well I shoot photos!" Besides, with the apps I can add colour modification on site without using PC.

Internet connection with wi-fi (Touch: OK)

I guess Safari is sufficient enough for the casual browsing during the trip. What's more some sites like Facebook, twitter and google reader have dedicated applications which in fact give far better user experiences than normal browser. Many hostels provide wi-fi and if you always have iPhone in your pocket it's possible to connect with free wi-fi spot unexpectedly found at restaurants and shopping centres.

For a photo viewer (Touch: OK)

The photos taken by other cameras can be saved in iPhone after organizing. Although the resolution is not really big as the other high-end smart phones, the colour is as good as the apple products. The display ratio is 3:2 which is suitable for the photos from DSLR. Besides as iPhone is basically a “phone”, you can casually show off the photos to the other people.

Applications for travelling

I realised that it might be possible to archive all the functionality above with the other smart phones. Nevertheless, the foremost enticement of iPhone is its vast variety of applications. This time, I'd like to introduce 6 applications which is specialised for travelling.

  • OffMaps
    A map application which caches information locally. In other words, after downloading the data at accommodations, we can check the map info on streets without the net connection. As this app uses open source map information, it's not as precise as google map but adequate for strolling around the roads and of course works well with integrated GPS function.
  • iTravel
    A dedicated browser for wikitravel and this can actually caches information locally after browsing. Incidentally, there are two versions of this app, free and paid. According to the author, there are no differences between two and uses can buy the app as a sort of donation for him.
  • Lonely Planet Travel Guides
    The iphone version of the famous guidebook series. Plenty of guidebooks and phrasebooks are available with the internal purchase. The guidebooks have their own map and sort information according to the location using GPS. Thanks to this and iTravel, I don't need to carry any physical guidebooks. Though the price of each book is slightly expensive as a iPhone app, it's worth buying if you stay a city bit long and need detailed information.
  • eCurrency
    A currency convertor. Though there are some free apps in this category, I like this for its UI.
  • Lingopal
    A phrasebook which can translate amazingly more than 40 languages. Though there are separated versions, round the world travellers must have all include version which costs merely 10USD. Honestly the quality is actually so-so(too many flirting phrases!) but anyway it's very interesting to have phrases in many languages. Not only for general greetings, it's useful for making topics during the conversations.
  • GoodReader
    I must mention this although this app is not specialised for travelling. This is a quick document file viewer. Usually, e-tickets are often sent as PDF and it takes time to print them out. But actually I save them in GoodReader and show iPhone at the counters. Nobody at the airport refused this so far.
  • Besides these, there are so many useful apps like Skype, Kindle for iPhone, Read it Later etc, in the App store and some games are absolutely perfect for killing time.


    In fact each function can be substituted with the other devices. Yet the best thing of iPhone is that you can have all of these with the palm size gadget. This is why iPhone is indispensable for the all travellers who want to reduce the amount of the luggage.

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