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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Eritrea 2018 - 15: Mallet Double Header Finale (50 p.)

Video for this series:

October 27 2018

Mallets 442.56 and 440.008 shunted to the depot upon our arrival at 6 p.m. - two engines under steam are not a common sight here.

In front of the campanile.

We said goodbye to the railwaymen and their female boss. Apart from monetary compensation we gave them goody bags with items difficult to obtain in Eritrea.

October 29 2018

The already shown city sightseeing tour followed on Sunday. I had to return to work Tuesday at noon, so a short stopover was planned. Thomas picked me up from the hotel in his car (of course an Opel) and took me to the airport Monday morning. The security officer confiscated the AA batteries from my sound recorder... however, they must have flown here somehow. The waiting hall featured TV-entertainment: first, a local war film, then dictatorship-TV with the benevolent ruler visiting a facility and meeting foreign dignitaries.
The Flydubai 737-800 touched down slightly delayed, but the small airport worked efficiently - with a turnaround of just 45 minutes we took off on time at 8 a.m. Like the weeks before, thunderstorm-prone weather dominated the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf. We flew close to Mecca, but sadly the cloud cover extended all the way to the Emirates. At noon, we arrived at Dubai international airport terminal 2 further away from the city. The luggage had been checked through to Vienna, I just received my boarding pass for the next day. A friendly gentleman in traditional clothes welcomed me at immigration and asked if I came from Salzburg. It is probably one of few jobs only covered by people without recent immigration background. 85 percent of the population consists of immigrants, 25 percent claim to have Iranian roots – the Iranian coastline is just 60 miles away across the Gulf. I entered the bearable heat outside and took a taxi with a nice Indian driver to my Premier Inn for 35 dirham (8.50 €). That way I managed to check in efficiently - it is a comfortable stay if you need to get to the airport early next morning.

The hotel shuttle bus departing every half hour took me to airport terminal 3 at 1:30 p.m. where you can change to the Dubai Metro. There still were four hours of available daylight to be used. My train approached in front of the Emirates Group headquarters, a plane was landing to the left. You could only take pictures through windows as platforms are secured by separate doors, no track is openly accessible.

Terminal 3 consisting of several buildings connected underground - concourse A in the background - is the second largest structure in the world by floor space. Soon, we will pass the tallest building in the world since 2009, another to be constructed here soon.

Metro Dubai Red Line was opened as first underground of the Emirates in 2009. It is 32.4 miles long - only 2.9 miles underground - and leads from Rashidiya district near the international airport to the port city of Jebel Ali already close to the border of Abu Dhabi Emirate. There, Al Maktoum International / Dubai-World Central Airport is under development, the new biggest airport in Dubai and the world - but not yet directly connected by Metro. You can easily call it a suburban railway as well. Trains are five-part driverless EMUs constructed by Japanese company Kinki Sharyō. "Gold class" and the women's compartment are located in the carriage at the south-western end of Red Line trains, so you can perfectly take images out of the other end during the afternoon.

More info:

After half an hour, we have reached Burj Khalifa stop in downtown Dubai, the financial district in the background.

The longest uninterrupted stretch of tracks leads to Noor Bank across Dubai Creek, leaving the skyscrapers behind.

Nakheel ("palm trees") features a siding. In the background the next aggregation of skyscrapers around Dubai Internet City.

I got off the train at DAMAC Properties after almost an hour-long ride. Some cooling drinks could be purchased - Dubai is one of the most expensive cities, but everyday shopping proves comparatively cheap. You cross the E11 motorway via a covered walkway to tram stop Dubai Marina.
The line opened in 2014 is operated by Alstom Citadis class 402 units. Don't worry - it's not diesel, but APS II ground-level power supply only turned on if a vehicle completely covers that rail section.

More info:

Tram, bus and Metro in one view.

My stop was Jumeirah Beach Residence 1, one of the biggest apartment and holiday resorts in the world. The line is only single track here, traffic negotiates the circle counter-clockwise. All stops are air-conditioned, trams offer a zone for women/families.

I walked to the bridge across Dubai Marina in slightly humid heat. The Metro can be spotted in the background.


Tourist tour boats resembling dhows came past.

Of course plenty of modern yachts as well.



School buses can be encountered quite often.

After an hour at the Marina, I changed to the Metro back to the city at Jumeirah Lakes Towers / DMCC.

View through a typical station.

Train meeting at Nakheel.

2722.4 ft tall (without aerial) Burj Khalifa appeared past Internet City.


Sheikh, take a look at the skyline.

The long straight across Dubai Creek.


Rush-hour approached - trains often operated at the interval of one station as you can spot in the distance.

Notice Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel in the background - it will be of use later.

I changed to the Green Line at BurJuman and took it two stops to historicising Al Ghubaiba station.


The traditional "cooling towers" are replicas as well, but at least we find ourselves in the historic Al Shindagha quarter with guard tower (20th century) and A380 (21st century) to the left.

You can quietly enjoy a shisha on the shore of Dubai Creek - an inlet of the Persian Gulf around Dubai.

Proper dhows can still be found here, behind a swarm of water taxi called abras.

I walked through the textile-souk, avoiding pushy vendors when possible.

Back at the Creek, the promenade leads along the "Ruler's Court" - Al Farooq mosque behind it.

The clouds above a rebuilt historical quarter indicate my weather luck in Dubai - it could have been entirely different.

Through a middle-class residential area populated by Indians and Pakistanis I reached Al Fahidi station and took the Metro to BurJuman.
View along Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Street towards downtown and ADCB (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank) station.

I asked the concierge at before mentioned Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel if the top floor could be accessed, the answer simply was: "yes". By the way, staying here is not that expensive, it would have been an option. A lady welcomed me at the top floor and showed me to the... swimming pool. You can discern the distinctive silhouette of the Burj Al Arab ("Tower of the Arabs") luxury hotel to the right along the coast, the tram also operates in that area.

Panoramic view from the clouds near the airport to the left to the Persian Gulf sunset to the right. For soundtrack see video at minute 44:08:


The sun reflected in the skyscrapers downtown. You can see the dense Metro interval at each station.

"Union House Flag" (dictatorship: check, giant flag: check) at the location where the United Arab Emirates had been founded in 1971:

The artificial land in the background belongs to "the World".

Of course I waited until city lights appeared.


492 ft tall "Dubai Frame" opened in 2018 was illuminated in changing colours - the domes behind it are part of the "Stargate" theme park. Zabeel mosque in the background, to the left the palace of the Emir's brother. Occasionally, princesses tend to flee from such in Dubai...

B/W version to properly celebrate the light display. Next, I walked to ADCB station surprised by the crowds at rush-hour. Even with such dense intervals I managed to only just squeeze into the second train arriving. More passengers got off before we approached the airport. I bought something to eat, then took the hotel shuttle to my room.

October 30 2018

After six o'clock in the morning I waited in front of the Premier Inn for the shuttle - what can you do to bridge the time? Railway photography! :)

Metro station Terminal 3 just opposite the hotel, yet the bus had to take a fifteen minute detour to get across the motorway.

Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPQ taxied past, a few A380s waited in the background.

I procured a few things at the airport, then boarded the A380 punctually. Tuesday morning in October is not a busy time, so I had a row to myself. Making yourself comfortable was important as suddenly the captain announced: "Actually, we have been ready to push back for ten minutes, but due to the weather situation over the Gulf nothing is happening at the moment." Soon afterwards, a heavy shower went down over the airport and a flash of lightning could be seen above the airfield. We finally started taxiing one and a half hour later. The flight was convenient, only the landing at Vienna quite windy. The image below shows the final approach to runway 16 above the Danube viewed from the tail camera.

Great weather conditions over Kurdistan: View of Lake Van, 13314 feet high Süphan Dağı to the left in front, Mount Ararat towering over the landscape at 16,854 ft in the background, both extinct volcanoes.
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