Stopping a stranger in the Middle Eastern city of Dubai to ask for directions is a gamble that is unlikely to pay off. Here most people are not sure where they are mainly due to the many foreigners that have landed jobs, mostly in construction and the hospitality industries.
For first time visitors like myself, in the daytime, it seems like a ghost city as most people keep indoors where it is not as hot and humid as outside. A walk into a number of hotels will leave you bemused as there are hardly any patrons. That is until the sun sets and then you begin to appreciate why Dubai is popular with fun seekers. Bars and eateries are almost packed by 10 pm.
“Here people starting coming out in the evenings when it is not so hot. We have some days when this place is full but you will hardly see anyone during the day,” said Naveen from Philippines.
The norm here is use of a single name, especially for the huge number of Asians working in Dubai.
Christine Wambui, who is the front office manager at the Rove Dubai Marina where I was staying, said they are not worried as each place has its unique customers.
Outside the hotel, the road network is so complicated that you may be charged dearly for a short distance as happened to me once. I realised later on while taking a walk in the evening that I was actually less than five blocks from where I was staying with the cab driver all too aware of this.
What is, however, most noticeable is construction which goes on throughout. A journalist who has lived in Dubai for over seven years jokingly said half of the cranes in the world are concentrated here.
The number of houses versus people appears a misnomer and perhaps this is why the city is preparing to host a six-month global expo in a bid to attract clients.
Getting into a bar on the 63rd floor is not a big deal and the amount of money that changes hands on the counter is shocking for misers. After a couple of shots I walked to the counter interestingly manned by a Kenyan from Kayole, Nairobi, who casually said that a young man who had just left had parted with Sh100,000 Kenyan currency for the tots.
The wattage of electricity used in Dubai is mind boggling. Up in the air one will notice roads lit all through. If power was to fail, and this is not likely, most people would be in dire straits as all houses operate with air conditioning.
High-end vehicles are a common sight with engines running throughout to keep the car conditioned.
Stepping out of a cab seems like entering into an oven with temperatures soaring to almost 40 degrees during the day.
Forget public transport as most people rely on cabs dotting every other corner or unmanned trams that pass regularly.
Theft is an alien phenomenon. The sight of abandoned bicycles or vehicles dotting the side of streets are not rare but meeting a cop is another thing.
I learned from my journalist friend that Dubai prides itself with cracking crime within two days of happening. Well perhaps some things are left just at that. The heat aside this middle eastern city is place to visit.