Oh yes! It’s time for another rumble royale! And today, we are headed to the Middle East and to South Asia as the combatants this time round are (drum roll) – the jewel of the Middle East, a city which has more migrants than people from its own country, a desert city transformed into a modern day metropolis which is the spot people pass through from Asia to Europe and beyond – yes, it’s Dubai!
It’s rival today is my favourite city in all of India. Whereas Delhi is one of my least favourite cities on the planet, Mumbai on the other hand is one that grabbed me with its romance, its mix of colonial buildings but thriving local business. Where I met a number of friendly people, and had a great time. And enjoyed some of the best of Indian food!
Firstly – let’s see the previous matches which allowed these two cities to get here.
Dubai took on a city with similar architectural style in Nur Sultan (when it was still known as Astana) – City Rumble – Dubai versus Astana. Mumbai came up against the Indian capital and city I don’t like so much so maybe was always going to win – City Rumble – Mumbai Versus Delhi. So let’s get into it!
Mumbai apparently has over 18 million souls living in its boundaries, that’s nearly six times bigger than Dubai with around 3.3 million people. Neither are capitals of their respective countries, although Mumbai is the capital of the state of Maharashtra.
It has been a long time since I was in either of these cities, and there no doubt has been a lot of change since 2009 in Dubai and 2001 in Mumbai. But both cities are hot. And humid. Dubai gets into the 40s at times. Mumbai isn’t far off but is slightly cooler on average. I went to Mumbai in January, which is the coolest time of the year but it was still around 30 degrees each day. It was October when I visited Dubai, and it was around 37 – degrees each day and stifling, and in this case you really appreciated the malls with their brilliant air conditioning. Mumbai, an older city, has buildings that are naturally a bit cooler, however air conditioning is not as common there.
Dubai really is a marvel of modern architecture and technology, and in this is the number one reason to visit. The malls are amazing, but at the end of the day, a shopping mall is a shopping mall, right? Even if they have an ice skating rink, an aquarium or even ski slopes inside. Yes, Mall of the Emirates is home to ‘Ski Dubai’, this amazing snow area, all artificially made where you actually get into ski wear and can toboggan, downhill ski or just play in the snow.
And thusly, Dubai really is a play ground. You need a bit of money, of course, but if you have it you can splash it on a night in the desert, luxury style of course. The city buzzes busines, there are big bucks being made every day. The sky scrapers are some of the tallest in the world. Some of the buildings also are built to impress. The Burj Al Arab, which looks like a sail, or the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. Or try the stylings of the Jumeirah Building. Then the water is decorated by man-made islands in a sort of paradise. Dubai unquestionably sets the standard for the modern city, and thanks to Dubai we see other places, such as Nursultan (Astana) pop up, and others try to rival it.
And then there is Wild Wadi Water Park. What a place! Goodness me! The best water park I have spent a day at, ever. Not that I have been to like, more than four. But it’s so much fun regardless of your age. And for me, THIS was the highlight of Dubai. BUT – there is something lacking in Dubai which you do get in today’s opponent, Mumbai. And that’s a feeling of authenticity.
Mumbai is an amazing place. Some of the colonial buildings, for example the former Victoria Terminus – now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, is the main train station but an amazing colonial building. And then you have the Gate of India on the bay, and the Taj Mahal Hotel – an amazing building and sadly the scene of the terrorist attack back in 2008.
But it has such a soul, Mumbai. Full of leafy trees in stark contrast to Dubai. It crawls on and on, they have a new metro there now I have never ridden but I did take the iconic double decker buses around town a bit. The people though sell Mumbai to you. I met several people there and chatted for ages and played cricket and went out to lunch, it was a great time. Met friendly youngsters (well I was young too at the time!) in little cafes, so many friendly faces!
The ghats, where a lot of washing is done, are very atmospheric and a great place to explore. The houses are wooden and historical, including the former house of Mahatma Ghandi, now a museum to the man. And of course, it’s the home of Bollywood movie making, which makes the most films every year, even more than say, you know the one in California!
Now, you will certainly be exposed to more poverty in Mumbai than Dubai, but at the same time, there is something more genuine about Mumbai. The city has a lot more parks as well, huge green fields where local cricket matches go on every day. Where as the historic parts of Dubai, well, they are all polished for the visitor. The historic museums are interesting, and it’s great to take a boat on the river, but at the same time the feeling is that no building in the entire city existed fifty years ago.
Going with my heart, I clearly have to give this one to Mumbai! Very different cities, and both very worthwhile visiting, without a doubt. But my heart says ‘Mumbai’ in an instant. Which means the third match of the second round sees Dubai dip out, and Mumbai goes through. Thanks for reading. Next week on Thursday, see who is challenging and who is going win, and get through to the next round!
Take care – May the Journey Never End!