Dubai: A Tale of Constructed Reality

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
August 22nd 2012
Published: August 25th 2012
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I arrived in Dubai at a smidgen before midnight, having left the (dis)comfort of sweaty Bologna and headed to Milan. Two buses, two trains, a coach and a shuttle later and I was at the airport ready to depart. I was the only person in the departure lounge not wearing a burkha. Alarm bells were ringing...

I had thought that flying Emirates would be the most luxurious way to travel possible. I was quite wrong. Okay, the inflight entertainment system was a nice way to wile away the hours, and yes the staff were all very courteous, but the fundamentals were not there. The arm on my seat was broken so I had nowhere to rest my limbs for 8+ hours. The entertainment screen only worked in darkness (what should have been a screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was actually just a reflection of my face for two hours). The 'vegetarian option' was a stern glare and a "here's a plate of boiled vegetables, now f**k off!" affair. Oh well- at least I stole the pillow!

Karma. Balls. On arrival at Dubai International Airport (all style and no substance) I was sent in all directions around this metropolis of an airport to find out what the flip was happening with my hotel stay for the night. (My connection time between UAE and Islamabad was over 22 hours and thus I had been assured that I would have a complimentary hotel stay in the airport. The lady at the desk in Milan even confirmed it to me that very morning). After nearly two hours of trudging around carrying all my stuff I was told a definitive, non-negotiable 'NO!' and was consigned to my fate of sleeping on a plastic chair all night. Oh well- at least I stole the pillow! At 4am, shattered and unable to sleep because of all the flight announcements in Arabic, I wrote a very pissy complaint to Emirates. Now just waiting for the result... *cough* free flight *cough*

The next morning I queued to get my visa to go into Dubai itself. Umm... the airport is probably marginally more cultural and interesting than the city itself! It was burn-yer-eyes-out hot and quite frankly just like an uninhabited desert. People on the streets? No way! Stupid, rich Americans in vulgar shopping malls? Far too many...

I left the alien world of Dubai after a few hours (about as much as I could take) of wandering aimlessly around and around these malls. Too many disengenuous 'Hey sweetie! Welcome to sickly sweet, tacky, pointless store number 456' greetings and too much teeth-chatteringly-cold air conditioning. If I go to the desert I want to see at least ONE camel. All I saw was a giant tumbleweed rolling through this city of constructed reality and shattered dreams.


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