The first thing I noticed when traveling via taxi from DXB to Jumeriah, which is where my hotel was located, was how fast everyone drove. Sheikh Zayed Road, the main artery cutting through the United Arab Emirates and Dubai's core in particular, is an eight-lane highway (each direction) where everyone seems to be traveling at a minimum of 140km/hr.
The second thing I noticed was how far-spread out the city seemed.
After initially being dropped off at the wrong hotel, we checked into the proper one a few blocks away. Our earlier friction had all but dissipated; we were in Dubai, wide-awake and ready to explore (even though it was late). The night air remained muggy and the streets had minor activity of mostly groups of men loitering about. I had previously read that males outnumber females 8 to 1 in the city, a very lopsided equation that is surely the result of the construction boom and foreign labour needed to fuel it. Knowing this, at the start of our walk I paid no attention to the remainder of my surroundings. My focus was elsewhere.
We made our way to Mall of the Emirates which appeared to still be open. The act of simply crossing the street was problematic though as multiple lanes of speeding traffic circled the building. We figured we'd had a long day and were probably just missing where we were supposed to enter from. Abandoning this attempt, we decided to try again the following day. After all, we'd have plenty of time to shop.
Walking back to the hotel, I now looked closer at where the hubs of male activity seemed to be congregating and noted a disproportionate number of massage parlours in the area. I'd add quotation marks to those words, but they could very well be reputable businesses.
Reputable massage parlours that completely covered any visibility through their windows.
Reputable massage parlours that were open past midnight.
The following morning, I noticed a high volume of business cards for these massage parlours on all of the parked vehicles in the area. Some specifically advertised their "Russian staff".