I was in Dubai only a few days to present two sessions at The Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching Conference held at Zayed University. After speaking about arts integration for language teachers and presenting a participatory workshop on the same, I had time to site-see from a hop-on-hop-off bus, which was great.
What impressed me most of all, besides the immaculate cleanliness, was the ambitious architecture in a tremendous variety of forms and textures which, to me, presented as a huge sculpture garden. Yes, I’ve been to Dallas, which has always struck me as over-the-top as each building seems to be designed to out-glitz it’s neighbors. (No offense, Dallas! I was born there and, if I didn’t live in New Orleans, would choose Texas for its authentic culture.)
But the still rapidly growing Dubai (I was told 20% of the entire world’s building cranes are at this time in Dubai!) offers views celebrating negative and positive space, abstracted natural forms, and more. The city is culturally very diverse, featuring Indian as well as Arabian souks and mosques. It is a busy port featuring traditional dhows as trade vessels with cargo loaded by hand. I was told along the port waterway all nationalities blend, but the seafarers may not venture farther into the city. And enormous malls are destinations for travels from all over the world. Dubai Mall has a full size aquarium inside, another mall has an actual ski slope, and Olympic size skating rink. My bus tour stopped at Dubai Mall and I’d seen enough after a short walk, but it still took me 45 minutes to find my way back out.