In India the 7 sisters are perhaps the most beautiful family in terms of Natural Beauty. The seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates can not come close to them in terms of the scenic beauty. Yet, the Emirates have a charm of their own. And this charm is felt best in its three cities of Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Dubai is like Mumbai - brash, arrogant, a financial power house fuelling the growth of the entire region. Abu Dhabi is the Nation’s capital and in many ways like New Delhi, fighting hard to become as savvy as Dubai without losing its character. As Dubai reaches the zenith of its power, Abu Dhabi is slowly but steadily on its way to overtake Dubai as the greatest city of the Middle East in the future. Sharjah is like Calcutta or Chennai, content to be the third in the race, assuming the looks of a ghost town as its inhabitants rush to Dubai every morning for work. If you are visiting UAE, a visit to these three cities is a must to see for yourself a study in contrast. Dubai is expensive, looks down at humanity from its high-rises and skyscrapers as 6 lane highways experience traffic jams worse than a flood hit Mumbai. Abu Dhabi quietly looks on with all its grandeur. It will not compromise on its architectural aesthetics but like Lutyen’s Delhi will dream of beating its brethren. Sharjah on the other hand is the last refuge for the not so rich and famous. With the Indian team not coming any longer to play, the city has lost its place in the sun. It’s roads though great will always fall short in comparison to Dubai’s and it’s buildings will not match up to Abu Dhabi’s. In fact, a part of Dubai on Sheikh Jayed Road is called the Dubai Manhattan and they have actually brought the sea into Dubai Marina to give a feel of what I think might be Venice. Now for someone like me who has neither seen Manhattan nor Venice, does it matter?
The difference in the cities is left in their tourist profiles too. While the JumeirahBeach in Dubai is the favourite haunt for the Westerners, the beaches in Sharjah are loved by the Asians. But yet, in the veins of these cities that paint the picture of Gulf in the mind of the average Indian, there are a thousand stories hidden, waiting to be heard. Stories of families left behind, stories of darkness beneath the glitz. And to the Legal Alien, these stories are what make a travel worth remembering.