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.
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.
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.