A View of Dallas From Abu Dhabi’s The National

Old Red got a mention, but Reunion Tower did not.  photo by Matthew Rutledge/Flickr
Old Red got a mention, but Reunion Tower did not. photo by Matthew Rutledge/Flickr

The National is an English-language paper based in Abu Dhabi that serves the United Arab Emirates. Today brings a travel story about Dallas, the “brash Texan star of the South.” Let’s grade their recommendations.

On Summing up the city:

Insecurity isn’t something that plagues Dallas. It chases money rather than love. Big, brash and business-minded, this sprawling Texan behemoth isn’t a city where being trapped behind tour groups or running a gauntlet of touts is ever likely to be an issue. Yet that allows visitors to disappear into real life rather than sigh in dissatisfaction through endless just-for-tourists experiences.

When you start delving in, mini personalities emerge. The Arts District shows a desire to do culture as well as commerce; the Deep Ellum neighbourhood retains a creative, dressed-down heart; uptown has a youthful, skittish enthusiasm for sampling the latest hot restaurants. Efforts to dig beyond first impressions will bring rich rewards.

Grade: They’re saying there aren’t a lot of sights to see, which is true enough. Dallas is a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit. However, I thought the biggest complaint about the Arts District is that there isn’t nearly enough commerce (daily street life)?  B-

On Hotels:

The Joule is the most spectacular spot in downtown Dallas – it’s pretty much an art gallery and social gathering point as well as a hotel.

Grade: The Joule is nice, but “the most spectacular spot in downtown Dallas”? Really? They also recommend the Indigo and the Belmont. So, B-, I guess.

On What to See:

On the other side of Dealey Plaza is the former courthouse, now the Old Red Museum. It tells the Dallas story, from backwater river crossing to major world city, and gives an insight into the city’s ferociously business-minded character at the time. The building is also home to the tourist information centre – pick up the leaflet that maps out the key public art installations and use that as an engaging walking route. The Cattle Drive – 49 bronze bulls being “driven” through Pioneer Plaza – is the most ambitious piece, while the Nasher Sculpture Center ­ is the best of the arts museums.

Grade: They also deserve points off for referring to the School Book Depository as the place from which Lee Harvey Oswald “supposedly” shot. But a greater offense is calling the cattle at Pioneer Plaza the “most ambitious” (read: biggest) public art piece and resorting to recommending it at all. C-

On Where to Eat:

For something more casual, Deep Ellum, to the west of downtown, is the most likeably rootsy area of Dallas, wearing its blues history on its sleeve and still hosting plenty of live music. Twisted Root ­is the best place to fuel up.

Grade: Madness. I mean, Cane Rosso is right across the street. C-

On the Imminent Dangers:

Driving is almost essential in Dallas, but it’s a pretty terrifying experience at night – street lighting is awful and reflective markers on the road are rare. This makes it incredibly difficult to see road markings – especially if it’s raining. Either be prepared for this, take a taxi or use public transport – which is decent between major areas.

Grade: I had no idea I’ve been risking my life daily on our decrepit streets. And the definition of “major areas” seems to be limited to downtown, Uptown, and Deep Ellum.  D


  • BradfordPearson

    Also, Deep Ellum is east of downtown.

  • James the P3

    Isn’t the definition of “major areas” for a tourist from the UAE limited to downtown, Uptown, and Deep Ellum? Unless you have someone from the UAE with an unusual fascination for American football or baseball–both of which are completely foreign to Abu Dhabi–there’s very little for a tourist to see in Dallas outside Loop 12.

    The complaint I would have about the write-up, which is completely opposite from yours, is that driving is absolutely not essential for a tourist from Dallas. With the exception of the Arboretum, all of the major tourist sites in Dallas–e.g., Perot Museum, Arts District, W Presidential Library, Dealey Plaza, Uptown, Deep Ellum–are all easily accessible from the DART rail.

  • Jason Heid

    I’d think a tourist who finds Deep Ellum appealing might also be interested in Bishop Arts (not mentioned in the piece) and Highland Park Village (which is). Both of which are somewhat less accessible via public transport. (Though I’ll grant you that they are still accessible.)

  • milk&cookies

    They misspelled Neiman Marcus…but I do that all the time too.

  • jmckee

    “Dallas is a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit.”

    Notice they mentioned the direct flight, there are plenty of people coming here on business that might have spouses that want to join after reading it or people connecting through that might want to stick around for a day. There are plenty of places that wouldn’t be my top choice for a vacation destination but have been fun to explore a bit since I’m already passing through.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    The condition of Dallas’ roads IS actually quite poor compared to those located in other major cities of the world (Latin America excepted).

  • Wylie H Dallas

    The condition of Dallas’ roads IS actually quite poor compared to those located in other major cities of the world (Latin America excepted).

    If the paper’s average reader is comparing the roads in Dallas to those of the UAE or Western Europe, it would be accurate to say the roads in Dallas are fairly bad.

  • Neal K

    It deserves a strong B+ for avoiding the tiresome big hair and cowboy cliches that infect pretty much every other travel article about this city. And the Emiratis drive around on brand new, brightly lit roads so it’s no surprise that they would find ours appalling.