This morning something was different. I stretched my toes down to the cold end of the duvet and, instead of sliding through Egyptian cotton sheets, my toes encountered polyester and the weight of a half-unpacked suitcase. Instead of the muted sound of the beach or a faint call to prayer, all I could hear was someone stomping around in heels and the slamming of the latch door downstairs.
Opening my eyes I realised that instead of a cavernous, marble-lined space between me and the edge of the room, I was practically kissing my enthusiastically but unskillfully painted wall; I would have to walk upstairs to get to my small bathroom instead of rolling into a bottomless jacuzzi tub by the bed; there was no one about to ring the bell and present me with champagne or a slate of perfectly executed pre-breakfast nibbles and said suitcase had spilled its fabric guts across what was left of my tiny floor space. I was not in Dubai any more and the only person unpacking, ironing and laundering those clothes would be me.
The moment I levered myself reluctantly out of the business class plane seat and wandered out and into Heathrow immigration, the Dubai bubble was irretrievably burst. After five days of being ferried, ushered, welcomed, waited on, doted upon, pampered, preened, fed and luxur-ied to within an inch of our lives I was very much back to looking after myself. Dragging a suitcase across south London on the tube will always be a guaranteed bump back down to earth.
Dubai was an experience. It was a revelation, one I was not entirely looking forward to and not in the least expecting. I certainly didn’t expect to be charmed by it, to be wooed by it, to even be seduced by it and I certainly didn’t expect to like it. But I was almost handed Dubai on a platter, its gilded, impossibly international, impossibly polite, impossibly lavish, impossibly impressive heart bared and surrendered and I was, against my best judgement and my own reasoning, utterly smitten.
While I am trying to organise the last few heady and highly hedonistic days in my addled mind and sort out the endless (and occasionally mindless) procession of food, wealth, cocktails and world-record toting wonder into coherent posts and features that don’t just say “oooooooo,” here’s a snapshot into my time in this behemoth of an Emirate city.
It’s a tale of camel polo elbow, glimpses into the old city and, in contrast, how the other half lives with ridiculous fountains, revolving mirrored beds, miniature food, monstrous architecture, dream scape hotel rooms and a childlike sense of anything’s possible that looks like this.
The entrance to The Burj Al Arab Hotel
In Dubai, you can even Ifly