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Abu Dhabi and Dubai Nov 2019

November 13, 2019 Leave a comment

Due to poor planning by British Airways we had to cancel a holiday to Dominican Republic and find somewhere else sunny and relaxing.

We decided on the Middle East. Somewhere we both know very well through work , but we hadn’t been to AD (together) since about 2006, so assumed it had changed a bit if the ever increasing size of Dubai was anything to go by.

We landed at about midnight, so it was collect the car, hit the hotel and it’s bedtime. A quick look around suggested standard top end ME hotel. Massive lobby, lots of staff buzzing around and copious gold fittings.

Our room was very nice, and quite sizable, with separate bathrooms, his and her sinks, and full wall windows. We were lucky enough to be on an”exec” floor meaning we didn’t have to go to a restaurant for breakfast, got snacks during the day and a few free beers pre dinner in the evening.

We did two trips during our stay, both recommended. One was the Formula One track your. Very knowledgeable guide, and there was stuff happening on the track, as well as preparation for the upcoming AD GP. I won a competition to do a lap (driven) of the Drift course. Great fun, not as terrifying as it looks. It was on the actual F1 track. So if anyone spins off due to excess rubber on the north end of the track, apologies.

The other was the Grand Mosque. Not normally a visit for me but the scale of this place is amazing, and just the fact they can keep the whole building that clean and white in a desert is amazing in itself.

The drive down to Dubai was strange, There only seems about 15 miles of gap between the two now, where it used to be long periods of open desert.

We arrived at the palm in no time at all. I discovered the joys of valet parking this trip, so we dumped the car and got our room. Once again very nice, but no fancy extras, but a balcony. This was nice as the weather got cooler.

Very little sight seeing, as we have spent so much time there, but we did find some new places. The pointe, a shopping centre on the palm, not so fantastic but functional.But it has amazing views of the Atlantis Hotel at night. Bluewater is another “coastal” location, but has what will be the Dubai “Eye” being erected currently. It also houses Caesars Palace, which for a country with no casinos, caught me a little on the hop.

We did manage to join friends one day for a boat trip out from Dubai Marina to roughly the length of the palm. A little choppy out to sea, but a great experience.

Last but not least we went to Dubai Old city one night for dinner. Its quite ironic to knock down old buildings, build loads of new restaurants in the same shape buildings and reopen the areas as Dubai Old City. But no one ever said the place was not ambitious.

We also made our usual visit to the Burk Khalifa but didn’t go up this time.

The day before we left it rained. Hard. Very Hard. In fact some of hardest rain I have ever seen. When you live somewhere where you hardly ever see rain drainage is not top of the list. Therefore after an hour, there was some pretty serious standing water. I only have video so cannot put up here, but google recent rain in Dubai and you will see some interesting sites.

Great trip, next up the good ole US for Xmas. Maybe.

Back To Dubai. First time in 5 years

January 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in 2007, myself and Mrs MrBen, both got on a plane for the UK and left behind the sun and imported sand of Dubai for not so sunny London and then Kent.

5 years later work takes me back, and it would be a mistake to say i wasn’t interested in the changes. Since 2007 we have had a worldwide financial breakdown and an Arab Spring.

Luckily for me, work sent me business class with Emirates, and I have to say that has improved immensely and you get a real space and a fantastic screen, with a half decent selection of movies. Food as ever was of high quality, and with attentive staff made for a great flight.

The view from the front.

The "remote" for the entertainment hub

We stayed at the Meridian, which was OK. An average room, in an above average hotel.

Much of the week was work related, and as such we went from office to hotel and back for most of the week,

But on Friday we had the afternoon to ourselves and saw two things, that did not exist in 2007. First off the tube (metro). Long overdue (road travel used to be hellish), and very well run (complete with lady only carriages). 3 quid for a day pass gets my vote. 1 tip. Do not drink (even water) on the metro. My colleague, was informed by a member of staff that eating or drink would result in a 200 Dhs fine. Eating i understand, but drinking soft drinks is a little harsh (travelling with kids must be so fun).

The other was the Burj Khalifa. Now I’ve seen big buildings, and this is the biggest, but i still wasn’t prepared for just how impressive the place was. The setting and everything else makes it almost look unreal. Shame to say though, the Dubai Mall attached to it, is just too big and a little over the top and difficult to navigate. I’m sure all the shops you need are in there, but i didn’t have 3 weeks to navigate the place.

Burj Khalifa

Small crowd near the Burj Khalifa !

Metro Station

That’s about it for the tourist piece. I would highly recommend the indian and chinese in the Le Meridian. And for any expats; Dubliners, Biggles, Fibbers and the IV, haven’t changed a lot 🙂

The main changes i saw was a country not so full of itself and a population who seem to value money better. There were more “normal” cars (still caught sight of a few “super”cars, but no more than London). The locals seem out and about in the restaurants and bars, which is good for integration. Also, the press seems to less censored and there are some stories appearing in the papers reporting proper crime rather than just the next big investment. So, in short it appears to have changed for the better, but I don’t think 4 days is really enough to judge a whole country.

B+, would go again.