Day 2,110 of Traveling the World | Dubai, UAE | November 10, 2023

“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.

The Museum of the Future, built on a grassy hill, set among skyscrapers.
Another view of the museum during the day. It is built in the shape of a torus.
Standing on the viewing platform in the middle loop of its architecture.
Here is the museum in 2019, with the top portion and right side not yet completed.
Inside, there were lots of videos explaining the rainforest, living in space, etc.
This is The Library – 2,400 crystal specimen jars of life on earth, both living and extinct.
This jar had a small bat…
…while these had worms and sea creatures.
This is the Stillness Therapy room – a place to lie down or sit down, close your eyes, and feel gentle vibrations as the disc on the ceiling made different ocean patterns and noises. It was very calming.
What you see on the outside, you see on the inside – along with these three elevator pods to move you between floors.
Floating around the lobby was this robotic blimp named Festo.
One of the robotic dogs in the lobby, stretching, dancing, and exercising.
The main hall in the Mall of the Emirates. This is the mall with many luxury stores, and more, as you will see.
Parrot shoes and butterfly stilettos – have never seen anything quite like them.
Swarovski wares, sitting in their own boxes.
Yes, the Mall of the Emirates has a “Ski Dubai” experience. It is 28 degrees F, or -2 Celsius. The kids were having a snowball fight!
The store Rituals was looking especially pretty.
With the goal of achieving employee happiness, Dubai set up these kiosks for police employee services. Similarly, they set up other police kiosks so that people could pay traffic fines with cash.
We passed at least eight stores with regional women’s clothing ranging from plain all black to these, decorated with rhinestones and embroidery.
With a beautifully decorated holiday table, this home store was ready for Christmas already, with trees in the very back.
The tank is 60 meters deep, or just about 200 feet, and contains 14 million liters of water, about 3.7 million gallons. Isn’t it amazing that it could hold a Boeing 777??
Open for only two years, Deep Dive Dubai is available for general diving, classes, and even as an underwater filming location.
In the tank, there is a full-size pool table, a Ducati motorcycle, several chess sets, a living room with sofa, and a bathroom. Farther down is a complete library.
Here are some divers taking a tour.
A different shopping experience, this is Dubai Mall, the world’s largest. This is a little more family-friendly, with several completely different food courts, a Chinatown section, movie theaters, and ice skating.
This is the entrance to Dubai Mall Chinatown, where the pharmacies, supermarkets, and food court all cater to Asian needs.
A cute store – every item for sale had its own glass bubble pod. Everything was handmade and priced between $50-75.
The ice skating rink, surrounded by giant video screens showing nature shows and advertisements.
Except for the heart, this entire wall, and the words, were all made out of stuffed animals.
In the food court, we smiled at the name of this Indian restaurant.

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