While in Dubai this week I spotted some unusual graffiti.
This educated vandal is seemingly torn between becoming a graffiti artist or a financial consultant. Perhaps he/she should stick to the latter as this investment advice could turn out to be a good tip in the current economic environment, at least as far as gold, the most famous of the heavy metals, is concerned.
Gold prices are determined mainly by sentiment and prices tend to rise when there are concerns about global financial stability, wars or political turbulence and when the returns on other investments are declining. Currently, warning lights are flashing on a number of indicators. Many people are commenting that ‘the world has gone bonkers’.
With bank deposits and bonds earning nothing and stock markets looking toppy, investors are searching for safe havens for their savings. Hoarding some gold as part of a balanced portfolio might be the way to go.
If so, Dubai remains a good place to buy some. The Gold Souk never fails to impress with everything on sale from gold wedding jewellery to solid gold bars.
Or, for the person who has everything and likes to flaunt, plated 24K gold limited edition i-Pads, i-Phones and other show-off accessories can be purchased from a shop in the arcade of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Deira, Dubai. They don’t contain much precious metal but may have rarity value in the future.
If you are ever in Dubai with money to spare you can take an elevator ride to the observation decks near the top of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The VIP tickets (stands for Very ‘igh Price) cost a jaw-dropping AED500 but give fast track access to the observation deck on Level 148 where there is a very elegant lounge staffed by Guest Ambassadors serving fresh juices and canapés.
The high speed lift whisks visitors to Level 124, ears popping along the way. An audio visual show is displayed on the walls of the darkened lift during the brief journey.
At Level 124 (called At The Top) guests transfer to another lift up to 148 (At The Top Sky).
The lift buttons go all the way up to Level 154 but these upper levels are private offices or residences. (There is a penthouse on the market at the moment for AED102 million if you are interested.) There is also an Armani Hotel in Burj Khalifa.
At a height of 555m above the ground you would expect to see spectacular and far reaching views. Unfortunately Dubai does suffer from hazy, dusty or sand storm conditions for much of the year and this week was no exception.
The most impressive views were straight down and the buildings below looked like a town planner’s model.
Here are a few pictures of the view.
Visitors who don’t wish to fork out AED 500 for the experience can obtain standard tickets for AED125-200 (depending on the time of day) giving access to Level 124 only, where the view is nearly as good. By booking online for a fixed time and date you can minimise queuing too.
On my recent visit to Melaka I noticed that a newly built Hard Rock Cafe is nearing completion on First Cross Street facing the river and Dutch Square.
The architects have made a good effort to blend in the design with the surrounding heritage buildings and I imagine a seat by the window will give diners a good view overlooking the river and the historic heart of this UNESCO World Heritage City.
It is disappointing though that the lower floor of the building, at street level, is going to be a rather ugly car park, which is out of keeping with all the other buildings in the core heritage zone, none of which have car parks. Melaka really does not need to encourage more cars into the city centre which is already choked with traffic. The combination of narrow traffic-clogged streets and cars parked everywhere means that ambling along lanes like Heeren Street is not as pleasurable as it should be.
In my opinion , the whole of the core heritage area should be permanently closed to traffic except emergency services vehicles, bicycles, trishaws, hand-carts or horse-drawn carriages. The streets should be resurfaced with fancy paving and provided with seating and landscaped planting. This would greatly enhance the tourists’ experience.
To compensate the residents and business owners in the zone for the loss of their on-street parking places, a multi-storey car park could be built outside the perimeter of the heritage area with spaces reserved for the residents.
Make more use of the river. The Melaka River Cruise boats seem to be doing good business but it is only a round trip tour and not suitable as a means of getting from A to B. They should introduce low cost river taxis, similar to Dubai’s abras, with multiple stops along the river where people can hop on and off.
The old buildings in the core zone and the buffer zone are protected from demolition but a lot of them appear to be empty or under-utilized. Imaginative ideas for attracting tenants into these buildings and breathing life into the city need to be conceived. They cannot all be converted into hotels and restaurants.