From the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai looks like a LEGO town, in a sandpit.
A hastily built Lego town of cranes and construction sites, sprawling highways, crazy garish high-rises and swimming pools so big you could host the next Americas Cup.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Dubai swimming pools.
In Dubai, everything is big.
Directly below the Burj is one of these mega pools – the 30-acre man-made Burj Khalifa lake, home to the world’s largest performing fountain. Water jets shoot as high as a 50 storey building. On a Friday night you can take a ‘traditional abhra boat’ across the ‘lake’ (local word for swimming pool) and lose yourself in a performance of Sama Dubai, set to music and controlled water jets.
Once ‘ashore,’ you can stroll through a faux souk within Dubai Mall, marvel at the world’s largest aquarium and dine out at the most popular spot in town, the Cheesecake Factory. This is a mostly dry town, and the locals make do with the entertainment they can get – cheesecake, Maserati’s and water fountains (not necessarily in that order).
My travel guide described Dubai as the modern day Atlantis, (not to be confused with tacky namesake hotel situated on the palm).
Hello tomorrow? To me it felt like a sandier version of Gold Coast, with the architecture of Vegas and the workforce of Old Dhaka.
Be prepared for Dubai to be polarizing. There is only one real attraction in town, and it puts on the most stunning display. Welcome to the world capital of consumerism. Spending $$$$ is the only game in town. And if you want access to some of the most jaw dropping pools in the world, you will need to dig deep.
Sadly after spending most of my funds on teaspoons in Paris, I was relegated to a four star only experience at the Jumeirah Ramada. Actually the poolside was surprisingly adequate. The towels were fluffy, the toddlers well-behaved and the bar service friendly.
I happily intended to spend most of the next two days poolside, until the Russian sexpests struck. To be honest I cannot confirm they were definitely Russian. They were a pair of beefed up, balding Borats.
The Borats proceeded to order, or more accurately yell their orders of “two more bud-veissers” across the length of the 25-metre swimming pool.
They then downed around seven or eight before beginning their own version of Marco Polo– the sexual harassment game. This consisted of working their way around the empty swimming pool (it was no coincidence they had cleared it) and stopping each time they spotted single woman on a lounger. They would then stalk their prey for anytime between 2 to 10 minutes, asking for a name, then a kiss, until they were told to royally f*** off. When it got to my turn it took me just under 60 seconds and I asked for security.
But the Borats had damaged my poolside karma. So I toddled off in pursuit of more water. This time I wanted a six star experience.
It was my last night in Dubai so I headed to the destinations that all Emirates air hostesses recommend – the Madinat Jumeirah. Another ‘giant swimming pool’ this time created as the ‘Canals of Venice meets Arabia’.
To be fair the Madinat was quite beautiful. My first stop, The Mina Hotel was the kind of destination where a bejeweled Camilla Kaftan might actually work. Mosaic tiles, Roberto Cavalli and faux Arabian architecture sat on the edge of the Indian ocean, framed by the mega pool. I sipped on my G&T and cold water (incidentally the water cost more) and stared up at the other Burj. The sailboat shaped highrise where Roger Feder played tennis on the helipad. As you do here.
After my $10 water I casually slipped onto the hotel ‘ferry’ that toured the giant swimming pool, travelling under bridges and canals until arriving at the destination of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah.
I had five hours until my flight home to Sydney and no more money for French alps iced water. I sipped slowly on my beer (again less than the water) and watched the mega pool below. Still, no one was swimming.