I have been to lots of places in my life, and have a list ten times that of places I want to go. The more I work in travel, the more places get added to that list. But never Dubai. For some, Dubai is the cognoscenti's James Blunt. The place you feel clever not to like. Shallow, fake, geared to hedonism and lacking in taste, culture, history depth (Dubai, not James Blunt).
What is there to like?
When someone tempted me to travel to Dubai with business class flights and an opening party, but more enticingly three days away from my very young and sleepless children, I took the moral high ground and accepted their kind invitation...
The joy of Dubai started when I got to the arrivals lounge for Emirates (what a lovely airline) at Gatwick and cruised through customs to the departure lounge. Like anyone feeling they did not deserve what they had, I ate everything, drank everything, read everything, watched everything and cursed the fact that I did not enter the lounge 6 hours earlier.
Value became apparent when they called me to my gate with about 20 minutes to departure and I lay in my space with the inappropriate sense of entitlement that a free upgrade gives you. My smugness fought with my desire to take every mini toothbrush, lotion and potion I could muster, and my desire to sleep fought with my need to use every service being offered.
Arriving in Dubai
Touchdown in Dubai, and again, you start to get it. The customs process was fast (very fast), the driver ready, the switch seamless. Most people head to the beach and there are plenty to choose from. In case they run out, Dubai is notorious for building more and more peninsulas, shaped like palms or the world, and sticking hundreds of hotels on them. When there, although it is slightly antiseptic and slightly industrial, it is unquestionably calm, well spaced and each hotel has been able to carve its own identity. I swam in the sea, and noticed little difference to Omani beaches.
Relaxation is the key
What I 'got' after 24hrs in Dubai though, was the idea that if you want to focus on you and/or your wife/partner/mistress/toy boy, or even if you want to focus on the family, Dubai is the perfect place to do it in. There is no need to feel duty bound to see anything cultural, or to do anything active, or to learn anything, or to meet anyone, or in any way to satisfy any preconceived ideas for going.
Instead the sun shines, the pool beckons, the waiter is always on hand, and everything is luxuriously on tap. In Dubai it is all about you, and for a few days a year, I think this is an indulgence for everyone. And if you can, do it in Business Class.