Emirates of Contrasts

The 1001-Nights Adventures mixed with Western culture

You will be constantly surprised by the many paradoxes

The United Arab Emirates were established in 1971 and includes seven Emirates – one of them being Dubai. The city is a never-sleeping metropolis and the Emirates gateway to the Western world. It grew up from a close to empty desert 50 years ago and has today developed into one of the world’s richest cities.

In Dubai, you will quickly find everything from 5*-hotels, futuristic skyscrapers, enormous shopping malls, white beaches, great golf courses etc. – all combined with the local culture, traditional markets and deserts. One of the most iconic landmarks of Dubai is the worldwide renown, 7* luxury hotel, Burj Al Arab, located at the incredibly beautiful Beach Jumeirah. In total, the city combines the best of two major world cultures, the Western and the Arabic, in a fusion that celebrates tradition with modern luxury leading to a surrealistic lifestyle in line with the 1001-Nights Adventures.

Also, in terms of capital markets, Dubai is the center of the MENA-region with its Nasdaq Dubai located at the Dubai financial district. During the day, it is very clear that the financial activity is very high and the oil from the region gets sold on future and spot contracts all over the world. The above contrasts are just a few of them and are part of the daily life in Dubai. Not everything is as one expects when arriving to this city and the many facets and surprises of it seems never ending.


A thunderstorm in Dubai is like a blistering blizzard in Denmark

It does not rain often in Dubai, but when it does it is a mesmerizing show. As shown on the picture, this was what Christian was met by on the way to the office one morning. When waking up, he noticed the significant thunder bolts and rain just like that from a shower.

Not surprisingly, the amounts of water falling from the sky clocked up all the sewer systems and left the city with major consequences. The traffic was jammed, and people tried to isolate themselves from the weather inside the many skyscrapers, waiting for the event to come to an end. All the roads were covered with water like a tsunami had just hit the city and both the news and individuals, through social media platforms, were cascading pictures of the weather all over the world. These kinds of days do not come often, but when they arrive, they do so with no warning and consequently surprise everyone every time.

It is not without reason that the traffic was jammed that morning, as the streets of Dubai are not intended for receiving rain in that magnitude. Several cars had crashed and the chaos was without end. The sky reminded one about those that can be experienced in Denmark, with a dark, frightening and warning expression.

Even though the rain continued for the entire day, already the next day, something that is very different from Denmark happened. Dubai was already in full swing cleaning and preparing the city to its usual high standards. It is a city with a very short time span between planning and action. Something that is needed when living in sometimes unpredictable surroundings.


Mulled Wine and Penguins on the Slope

Skiing is as mentioned one of Christian Betting’s profound passions. Thus, from time to time, he enjoys an afternoon in the snow. That might seem impossible being located in Dubai, but the city actually has its own indoor -5-degrees Celsius skiing slope with genuine power snow. This facility is state of the art in the MENA-region and displays one of the stark contrasts the Emirate has to offer. Namely, as the Sun is shining and offering 45 degrees Celsius, the slopes are a merely -5 degrees Celsius and offer great skiing – all at the same time. Like a fairy tale? Absolutely.

After having been skiing for the usual couple of hours, Christian often enjoys the after skiing in the Swiss winter cottage located halfway up the slope, where mulled wine and hot chocolate can be appreciated. Though, it is an Arabic country, so no alcohol is not part of the warm drinks. However, it is not just the skiing enthusiasts that have found their way to the slope, being Dubai, they have of course imported several species of penguins originating from the South Pole. They are cared for according to the highest standards and they have their own individual caretaker. What a place!


Christmas Spirit in the desert with roast pork, red cabbage and risalamande.

Some people have a difficult imaging developing the right Christmas spirit in Dubai – it is a Muslim Emirate after all. However, nothing could be further from the truth. During Christmas the entire city is being decorated like no other place with genuine Christmas trees etc. These can be experienced at the worldwide renown and enormous shopping malls – all these trees have been imported directly from the Norwegian mountains, and they are usually so mesmerizing that the decorated tree located at the central square in Copenhagen, Rådhuspladsen, seems doll.

Without saying, the Arabs use incredible amounts of resources on the astonishingly beautiful Christmas markets with both snow, elves and decorations. So, even though we are located in the middle of the desert with 36 degrees Celsius outside, there is no reason for not catching the Christmas spirit when in Dubai.

During the Christmas holiday, the Scandinavian Sailor’s Church acts as a meeting hub for all the Scandinavians celebrating in Dubai. Thus, Christian and his family participate in the yearly Christmas ceremony on Christmas day in the church. That is, just before celebrating the evening following the profound Danish traditions with a great dinner constituted by roasted duck, rice porridge and,of course, the almond gift awarded to the person getting the almond in his or her dessert. To create the genuine Danish Christmas spirit, a central element is the Danish Christmas dishes.

Roast pork and other pork dishes can be easily obtained in most of Dubai’s supermarkets, even though it is a Muslim country. Though for the more specialized items such as the Danish delicacies, one has to go to the Danish Consulate for assistance. Once a year, they offer importing a special Christmas package with traditional hard-to-get Danish food. So, after all, despite the heat, the Christmas spirit can endure in Dubai, just as home in Denmark.