Dubai - November 2007

This trip was a different one. We had just moved into our new house a month before and we squeezed in a quick trip to Durban to celebrate Mom's 70th birthday, which was a good thing as she passed away within 36 hours of our return home. We had all sorts of expectations about Dubai, particularly in the shopping area, but we found this to be overrated and on the expensive side. Although I will confess that we bought a number of watches while we were there. One brand was one we had never seen before, but the rest we probably could have bought at home for a little more. It was more a question of the fact that we had the time to look around and find something we liked.

We stayed at a Marriott Hotel and our conference included a talk on the Marriott service ethic. But the highlight in terms of hotels and meals was a gala dinner at Burj Al Arab . It really is beautiful, if a little over the top. We went up escalators alnogside large aquariums full of wonderful fish and coral. We also knew that when we saw gold fittings, they were the real thing!

We took a bus trip around Dubai and walked through the gold souk. We then joined up with the rest of our group at a revolving restaurant where we were treated to a wonderful buffet lunch. There was then a trip to the engineering company responsible for The Palm and other developments. Due to limited numbers the spouses made their way back to the hotel to relax. The presentation was interesting if a bit long, but afterwards the bus drove us along the trunk of The Palm Jumeirah and we could see some of the development close up. 

Our special trip was supposed to be a helicopter flight over Dubai, but there was an airshow on and all the helicopters were being used elsewhere. There was also a no fly zone. Since we had booked and paid for this trip while still in South Africa, the tour organisers worked really hard to find a suitable alternative. They came up with a flight in a seaplane over the coastline which meant that we would not have a problem with the no fly area at all. Another couple decided to join us and we had a wonderful flight. We took off from in front of one of the beachfront hotels and flew along the coastline seeing The Palm Jebel Ali , The Palm Jumeirah and The World developments some of which was still in its infancy. We then made our way back and landed at the same hotel.

Another day we went out to the dunes in some landcruisers. It was lovely but a bit like a rollercoaster ride. So given my tendency to motion sickness, I was not in a good space. We stopped so that some of the team, including Terry, could do some dune boarding. It was great fun to watch. But it still seemed to take us forever to get to our final destination. We were then separated into men and women groups and given clothing to change into. When we met up again we had to look carefully to find our partners. I found that Terry makes quite an authentic-looking Arab when in the proper garb. While we were all checking who was who, a group of camels with riders joined us and they signalled us to follow them up and over the dune. On the other side there was a Bedouin-type set up with tents and low tables. We were treated to a feast as we sat around on our cushions. There were local henna tattoo artists, music and dancers to enjoy. We had a wonderful evening. Fortunately, the ride home was much smoother, as we were close to the main highway and we did not have to make our way over the dunes again!

Overall, we enjoyed our time in Dubai, but it is not somewhere we would rush back to visit. The only draw card would be an opportunity to see what had happened to the different developments. An opportunity to fly over them again to see how far they have come would be one not to miss...