Our American contingent consisted of 39 folks from our Capital Region ranging in age from young to 87. It can safely be stated that we were, to a person, astounded by the sheer magnificence of the Dubai urban area where we spent the majority of our time.
Our concentration was in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the Emirates in area and has much unoccupied desert area in addition to its modern city, which has to rank among the unique cities of the world in terms of architectural variety and the sheer size of the buildings. It is the location of ATIC, which is housed in a modernistic building shaped like a wafer or computer chip standing a few hundred feet high. But nothing we saw in Abu Dhabi compares with the city of Dubai about an hour away to the northwest.
Dubai is obsessed with size and revels in the fact that it has many attractions which rank first in the Guinness Book of World Records. It has the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (formerly known as the Burj Dubai) standing half a mile high, or nearly two-and-a-half times the size of the Empire State Building. The Khalifa houses the world’s fastest elevator; it carried us from the ground to the 138th floor observatory (a bit more than half way up the building) in mere seconds with no sense of movement except in ear pressure. It also has five of the world’s tallest buildings; the largest golf course (designed by Tiger Woods); the most magnificent horse racing track featuring an inside-the-oval 400 room hotel, each room of which looks out onto the track; as well as the world’s largest shopping mall; the world’s largest hotel (The Burj Arab); and the world’s only seven star hotel, The Atlantis. One is simply stunned by turning to the next vista, just down the street or around the next corner.