The UAE, particularly Dubai, gets a pretty bad rap from Kabul residents. It's a transit stop for many of us, the place we're often stranded at odd hours of the night on our way back west. There are nice (but expensive) hotels, champagne brunches, and well-stocked shopping malls, but most see it as a soulless and materialistic city they'd like to spend as little time in as possible. It's probably not a place I'd choose to live for an extended period of time, and neither Dubai nor Abu Dhabi compare to fascinating world cities like Istanbul or Tokyo, for example, but I quite enjoyed both emirates when I visited last fall. Perhaps it's because I hadn't had a proper hamburger in over two months and I was starved for normalcy at the time, but I really did like the mix of ultramodern and traditional, the sparkling clean streets, and the glamorous Emiratis. Call me soulless if you must. You can see some photos from the trip in the Emirates album found here.