Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dubai - UAE

Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building
This place is weird! Far more developed and tourist focussed compared to nearby Doha, there is something for everybody in Dubai.
The climate as you would expect is very dry, great for golfers and those who want to relax on a sun lounger or the beach. There is also what seems like an endless amount of shopping malls, restaurans cinemas and theme parks to keep everyone entertained.
Such is the bizarreness of Dubai, on the Sunday I had arranged to play golf. However due to a huge sandstorm, my round was cancelled, so I ended going for my first ever snowboarding lesson.
Not on any old dry ski slope like you would find in England though, but an indoor resort inside a shopping mall complete with a 60 metre high mountain, real snow, five slopes, a temperature ranging between -1C and -6C and actual real penguins....I sucked!

At the top of the world's tallest building - literally in the clouds!
I was staying in Port Saeed, very close to the airport (and cheap!) and probably twenty minutes in a cab from downtown Dubai where most of the big Malls and attractions are located. The good thing about the UAE is that taxis are outrageously cheap. The 11 mile journey from my hotel to the Burj Khalifa (photo above) cost 23AED, which works out at around only £3.90.

The trouble with running in Dubai and especially Abu Dhabi, both in the UAE, is that the vast majority of the roads do not have sidewalks. I imagine this is because it gets so hot in Summer and most residents are very well off that everybody just drives everywhere.

I was able to get in a run each morning before it got too hot. Due to the heavy amount of traffic, I was keen to find a park or some green space so set off west from the Deira Shopping Mall in Port Saeed along 8th Street.
There was a signpost for Dubai Creek Park , Al Ithihad Road heading towards the city so I continued west over the Floating Bridge and past the Dubai Court Rooms. Then I was able to get a look at the park to my left which seemed to be huge and offer great views over the creek.

At the traffic lights I beared left (south) along Al Riyadh Street until I reached the entrance to the Park. 3.1km to this point.

In true Dubai fashion, the 'park' resembled more of a small town, with a cable car system running end to end overlooking a small theme park style childrens area called the Dolphinarium Children's City.
The Emirates Golf Club shows the diversity of Dubai

It was quite surreal, but refreshing, to see so many locals in their traditional burkhas just doing regular things like playing cricket, throwing a frisbee and having BBQs using the various free equipment dotted around the Park.
I turned left at the entrance and followed the western boundary path back north parrallel to the road I had just ran along. The locals seemed fascinated to see someone clearly of western descent exercising, as though it was the strangest thing they had ever seen. I was wearing a long sleeve top and shorts to avoid causing offence.

The pathway in the park was very undulating and mainly concrete, although there were patches of gravel and sand. After 1.5km I reached the north east tip of the park and turned to head south along the eastern boundary.

There were awesome views out across the Creek as I was now running along the creek wall were several locals were fishing. The breeze off the creek was a welcome relief to as the temperature was in the high 20sC despite it not yet being 10am.
Atlantis Hotel on the man made Palm island. A little bit better than where I was staying
In total, one lap of the park measured 5.3km and it was nice be surrounding by water and green space, away from the futuristic look of the horizon and contsant sound of cars and their horns. 
I left the park through the exit in the south west corner and turned left (south) along Riyadh Road rather then right and back north where I had come from.

After 1.6km I reached Garhoud Bridge which offered views of both the creek and the park as I headed east. I then simply followed Sheikh Rashid Road north for 3.8km past Dubai Creek Golf Club and to my hotel.

Not the most exciting run, but my location plus Dubai's infrastructure made it difficult to find any quiet roads or walkways. At least the Creek Park offered an escape from the amass of concrete and skyscrapers.

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Summary:
Start - Deira City Centre Mall, Port Saeed
Journey - East towards city centre, over Floating Bridge to Creek Park. Lap of Creek Park, exit south and head east over Garhoud Bridge and then north along Sheikh Rashid Road.
Finish - Deira City Centre Mall

1 comment:

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