I’m writing this, from South Africa, but for the sake of compartmentalisation (one of my favourite words of all time) I’m going to separate out the blog entries between Dubai and South Africa.
I flew from Mumbai to Dubai on the 11th December, flying with Emirates for the first time (who weren’t too bad at all, with as international a set of air stewards as you could hope to meet, and decent movie selection and decent food). I think I’ll have to consider an Emirates work flight home at some point in 2010 to see what their business offering is like.
Having arrived early in the United Arab Emirates, I got my hotel car to the Hyatt Regency, in Deira, and checked in. My only real plans for the 11th was to get settled & get relaxed, so I headed for the spa, had a steam, a swim and a massage. A friend, who I used to work with in London, Paul, was also in Dubai, so we agreed to meet up in the afternoon for dinner, so I jumped in a taxi and headed for Jumeria, beside the Burj Dubai – the famous sky scraper in the sea which Tiger Woods smacked golf balls into the ocean from. Having met with Paul, and his crew, we headed to a nearby complex of shops, bars & cafes and met the Lloyds Bank Dubai Office (well, some of them) for the evening.
That evening, it rained in Dubai, for the first time since February… and not just a drizzle… a heavy down pour.
On the 12th, I’d decided that I was going to wander around the Shouks of Dubai (a Shouk is like a market), and see some of the city, but as it transpired, with more rain, I only ended up seeing the Shouks and going to the Mall of the Emirates. THe Shouks themselves were not what I was expecting. They were basically just shopping streets, but rubbish ones. I then headed to the Mall, which is now the second biggest in Dubai. The Mall of the Emirates is perhaps only famous for one thing, and that’s the indoor skiing centre attached to it. A 400 metre slope of artificial snow in Dubai. Genius. I did however decline the opportunity to try out my rusty skiing…
The 13th, my Birthday, was supposed to be my day in the desert, but due to the rain… again… my tour got cancelled. I ended up watching a massive thunder & lightning storm from my bedroom window and spent the day in the hotel. I decided it was worth the spoil so headed for the spa again… well, it was my birthday.
And so on the 14th, I finally got some decent weather & got to do my tours. In the morning I did the Dubai City Tour, which basically takes you around the famous sites of the city. We started out near the Burj Dubai, headed to the Atlantis at the Palm Hotel, then moved to Dubai Marina, before going to Dubai World and finally the World’s Tallest Building which is due to open in Dubai in January.
The Dubai World plot it worth a mention. Basically, they’re planning to build a kind of Disney World park in Dubai, on about 1200 acres… though it’ll be the biggest of it’s kind anywhere in the world (kinda typical for Dubai). They’re going to have zones, like Europe zone, where they’re going to recreate the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower (only bigger), the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Coliseum (I kid ye not). Then there are the 6 golf courses, the Space Zone, the Sports Zone (which looks like a section aimed at hosting the Olympics some day), and a whole raft of Zones in between. The ambition is frightening to be honest.
And that was my trip to Dubai. I guess my gut feeling about the place is that its ambition to be the biggest & the best is clear, but they’ll never be happy, really. Someone will always build one bigger, or one better and so they’ll have to keep competing. Eventually, the money will run out (it probably already has, as when I was there Abu Dabi promised $US10Bn to Dubai Investment Inc. to tide it over one some debts it owes) and it’ll all end in tears… and not just for Dubai, as lots of pension systems in the UK are invested in the place!!
I’ve got my fridge magnet, and I won’t be back in a hurry.