“It’s really easy to reserve a table here with your cell phone,” we were told by a woman at the hotel. Duh. We have reserved tables on both cell phones and iPads when looking at restaurant sites. Yawn. BUT…she didn’t mean, booking a table through an app; she meant, literally, leaving your cell phone on a table (at, say, a food court), looking around, ordering, and returning to the table with your food. Nobody will take, or even touch, your cell phone – it is your phone, at your table, and is always there when you return. All we could say, with big eyes, was: Wow!
That is a great introduction to Dubai. It is modern, clean, sleek, westernized, safe, and compared to when we were here for a month in the summer of 2019, has more young people from many different cultures and countries. The subway is much more crowded than it was last time, with every car on every train (which arrive every four minutes) full to the brim with commuters and travelers. The malls (we visited the two largest in Dubai) and the Museum of the Future were equally crowded.
Deep Dive Dubai, a diving and instructional facility with a pool that is 200 feet deep, was an afternoon well spent. Mike took and passed a Nitrox certification class and also did recreational diving. Nitrox tanks have a higher concentration of oxygen so that you can stay at depth for a longer period of time without decompression stops. It is interesting, as the pool has different levels filled with everyday stationary objects that you can use for photos or just to explore – like a Ducati motorcycle. But, diving with no ocean life means that the unexpected never happens – there isn’t suddenly a shark swimming just above your head, or an octopus scuttling around.
The Museum of the Future was still being constructed in 2019, but has been open since February 2022. The building is more impressive from the outside than the inside experience was. Largely a series of videos and with some interactive models, the museum was alternately boring and engaging. The lobby had a robotic dog walking around, and a flying robot, but there wasn’t a whole display on robotics, or even a hands-on, even though every person in the lobby was straining to watch the dog. A few years ago, 60 Minutes aired a segment on how far robotics has come, and it was fascinating. But the museum didn’t really expand much on the subject. We even spent about 20 minutes watching a similar dog being tested outside public buildings in Canberra, Australia, earlier this year and blogged about it. We were able to interact with that one a little by placing ourselves in its path and watching how it rerouted around us. So, although the technology isn’t yet widespread, it is in use and not exactly “of the future.”
There were a few items that were more cutting edge on display such as a (small) model of a flying taxi that you could look at hanging from the ceiling, but not a full-size one that you could sit inside. There was a self-driving car, but it was on a showroom dais, and just looked like an ordinary car – there were no rides offered, or even a chance to look at it close up. So, our feeling is that the museum doesn’t go far enough with the whole, immersive experience of what the future will be. It is a soft, mewling kitten, when it could be a thrilling, pouncing lion. As Marlon Brando lamented in On the Waterfront – it could have been a contender. We could have walked out with big eyes, saying how incredible it was, that it was a world-class museum, and dazzled by all that we got to experience of what might be possible in the coming years – but we just felt – MEH.
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