On Tuesday 28th April, we carried out our second live interview on Twitter with Jennifer, a travel blogger based in Dubai. For those of you who missed it, here is the transcript of our discussion. We hope Jennifer’s travel insights inspire you to discover more about this unique country and fascinating culture. Enjoy!
Hi Jennifer (@purplepassport) A pleasure to have you here! Let’s start simply: Who are you, why purplepassport and where are you now?
Hi everyone – I’m in New York today, but happy to be doing a twitter interview about the United Arab Emirates. I love to travel and keep a blog, diary of the purplepassport, with my best friend Emily (@purplesuitcase). We have matching purple passport covers! I live in the UAE with my husband.
How is the desert climate… after living in other countries, I guess it’s quite a change! What would you advise?
I arrived in winter when it was cooler (around 20-25ºC) so haven’t been there for hot summer yet. People usually say that summer is a time to stay inside, with temperatures reaching 50ºC! Thankfully there is lots of air conditioning everywhere. One thing that surprised me the most about the climate was the sandstorms – wind picks up and sand gets on everything!
Good luck for this summer then. We have a question from @velvetescape: Dubai has a boomtown, over-the-top ‘Las Vegas’ image. Is it really true?
In many ways it’s a boomtown with cranes and construction everywhere. The tallest building in the world, Burj Dubaï, is almost done and the Dubai Mall with its 1200+ stores, fish tanks, ice rinks, Mall of Emirates with Skiing shows the boomtown aspect too! The city does not have the gambling that Vegas does for cultural reasons.
A question from @carlosvg: why exotic destinations like the desert, are more requested than other nearer but unknown destinations?
I think the extreme desert in the Middle East is mysterious and unlike anything you can experience in Europe or US. Before seeing this desert, pictures like this (see above) always fascinated me.
Great picture! But what is the ‘authentic’ Dubai?
To me there are 2 authentic Dubais.
Firstly: The “Old Dubai” with its souks, markets…that show the traditional city.
Secondly: The flashy/new Dubai with malls, hotels, restaurants… including the enormous Atlantis Hotel.
Both are authentic and truly Dubai, just different. UAE is a new country, and most development has been made since the discovery of oil in 50s and the unification of the Emirates in the early 70s. (Clarification from @tareqg : even old Dubai isn’t even that old, if you’re looking for authentic history, you should check out Yemen. The new part, well I just call it the simulation city (SimCity), it’s just like a video game. There is a thin line though between the two.) Yes, I agree! I think Diera didn’t really develop until gold trade grew the 1940s – I’m excited to travel the region. I also agree that the “New Dubai” can be a lot, but equally authentic in terms of how the city has decided to define itself.
From @purplesuitcase: Is there a noticeable local population in Dubai? Or is that confined to the Old Dubai? Does the Old Dubai have a lot of tourists?
The local population is actually a minority – last statistics I saw said 20% in 2006, but now it is much less, I think. The local population is not at all mainly concentrated in Old Dubai (a neighborhood called Diera). And yes, Diera is a bit touristy – but worth seeing.
And what about Abu Dhabi? What is there to do? What are Abu Dhabi’s development plans for the future?
Abu Dhabi has a huge development plan and will build The Louvre Museum (Affiliated to the Paris one), a Guggenheim, and a theatre. They want to differentiate themselves by becoming a cultural capital. The Emirates Palace Hotel is worth seeing and non-Muslims can visit the Grand Mosque which holds tours most days at 10am (not on Fridays, however). The Souk in Shangri-La has lots of great restaurants and bars, with views of water and the Mosque. I have taken lots of Abu Dhabi pictures as well as Dubai pictures.
From @purplesuitcase: With hot weather, how conservative do women have to dress (foreigners that is) so as not to offend locals?
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, dress rules for foreigners don’t seem to be strict (you see a very wide range), but I think it’s important to respect cultural differences.
Thank you! And the last question: What’s good to know before travelling to the UAE? What do you think of it?
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are only 1.5 hours apart so you can see them both pretty easily, but be careful driving because it can be dangerous! Like anywhere, when you go try to learn, observe and have fun! I am enjoying the opportunity to be somewhere new and different. It is a great base for traveling because it will enable me to see new part of the world. Lots to see in the Middle East before I’m done! Thank you so much for the interview. And loved chatting with everyone! Make sure to continue to visit (and subscribe to!) my blog for updates about my time in the region and new thoughts on things to see and do there
Thank you Jennifer, enjoy your flight back to Dubai and we hope to see you soon back on this blog!
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