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Lawrence in Arabia

 -- Published: Tuesday, 14 November 2017 | Print  | Disqus 

By Larry LaBorde


Last month the lovely Miss Puddy and I traveled to the UAE.  Several friends thought we were crazy for traveling to the middle east.  Looking back I was probably much safer there than here at home in Louisiana.  Although things in the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) next door seem a little shaky after their “night of the long knives” just a week after our return.  More on that in a later article next month.


We flew directly from DFW to Dubai on Emirates Airlines.  It was the first time we flew on Emerates and I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with them.  The flight attendants were friendly and helpful throughout the long16 hour direct  flight.  Our son met us when we landed and took us to his downtown apartment.  We rode the electric train up and down Sheikh Zayed Road just to see a few of the sights and get a general feel for the city before dinner and a well deserved sleep that night.  I was duly impressed from the start. 


The next day my son and I attended the World Green Economy Summit and heard the government plan for a low carbon impact future.  The visual presentations were stunning.  They may not hit their targets but they seem most ambitious.  We also visited a trade show for Wetex (water, energy, technology and environment exhibition) and noticed the Chinese pump manufacturers were there in full force.  The KSA announced their new city, NEOM.  Crown Prince MbS said the Saudi sovereign wealth fund along with private investors are investing $500 billion USD in the venture that will stretch from the KSA into Jordan and across the Red Sea into Egypt.  The new development will encompass 10,000 square miles and will be located just south of Aqaba.  The new city is to be powered by clean energy and will have no room “for anything traditional”. 


After seeing visions of the future we headed for the past and that afternoon we headed for the gold souk to visit an old business associate.  The world famous Dubai gold souk is said to have over 10 tons of gold on display in over 300 shops.  You can buy coins and bars but mostly jewelry.  The gold jewelry in the souk sells for just a little over the spot gold price.  There are jewelry bargains here that you will not find anywhere else in the world.  While the price of the raw gold contained in the jewelry is not up for question you can and should haggle over the small workmanship premium over the spot price with each piece you wish to purchase.  It is hard to understand the true value of gold as an American with no memory of a currency failure for many generations back (1865 for your Southerners).  In Africa, Asia and the Middle East currency collapse or depreciation is always in your financial thoughts.  Gold jewelry (close to the spot price) is simply a way of saving money.  We also visited the spice souk and the old dhow wharfs on Dubai Creek.  The older original trading part of the city was interesting as Dubai’s roots go back a long way as a regional trading port.


The next several days were spent seeing the tall buildings and architecture of Dubai.  We had drinks at sunset at the top of the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world.  We also saw the plans for the new tower that is to be even taller.  We watched the dancing waters from the Apple store at the Dubai Mall.  They were an Arabian version of the dancing waters at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  We had brunch one morning at Eggspectations on JBR beach (near the Dubai Marina Mall) and watched the new Dubai Eye being constructed.  It is supposed to be twice as large as the London Eye and is almost completed and ready to hang the gondolas.


We drove South one day to visit Abu Dhabi.  I noticed that the Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) service stations had friendly attendants to pump your gasoline for you (I hadn’t seen that since I was a child in the US.)  I also noticed that the facility had CNG fueling stations in addition to conventional gasoline and diesel.  We met up with an old friend of my son-in-law and toured the Grand Mosque.  We then had refreshments on the 74th floor observation deck of Jumeirah Etihad Towers and watched the sun set over Abu Dhabi while gazing down at the royal palace and the rest of the city from 300 meters above.  We walked over to the beautiful Palace Hotel across the street and then drove back to Dubai late that evening.


We raced sailboats on Friday at the Jabal Ail Sailing Club just south of the city on the north side of the Jebel Ali Palm in the Persian Gulf.  We sailed on F-18, double trapeze catamarans.  I had never sailed on one but my son was pretty good and he coached me through 3 races.  We finished 2,1, 2 and DNS on the 4th race as I was just to tired to race the last one. (Thanks JB for lending me all your gear!)


We traveled North one day through Sharjah and on up into the Northern Emirates to see the sights.  We stopped at a local restaurant and had bone broth soup and traditional madfoon.  We traveled on into the mountains and observed a well field for one of the local water systems.  One the way back we had some excellent chi tea and ended a wonderful day of rural sightseeing.


We even managed a day of shopping at a few of the local Dubai malls.  The malls were very nice with high-end shops from around the world.  Most of the malls were open until 1:00 AM.  Mercifully they had very comfortable couches in the ladies shoe stores for their husbands. I hope my snoring didn’t run off too many customers.


The most fun on the trip, however, were the several lunches and dinners with expatriates from around the world.  Their stories were all different but each was fascinating.  They were some of the most fun and interesting people I have talked to in quite a while.


All in all I was most impressed with the UAE.  Their cities were incredible when you consider the speed that they were built.  In the last 50 years these massive, modern cities sprang up from modest small towns.  The growth is something that I have never seen.  I understand that China has several cities that were constructed in just a few decades but it is incredible nonetheless.  As usual don’t believe everything you hear on the news about the Middle East.  I strongly suggest a visit to the UAE to see it for your self.



Larry LaBorde

Larry LaBorde sells precious metals through Silver Trading Company LLC. Since 2001, Silver Trading Company has offered high volume sales of gold, silver, platinum and palladium to serious investors around the world. It also offers guidance about storage options for metals. Please visit Silver Trading Company’s website at


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