Not sure I would go back
I was in transit back from a wonderful trip to the Maldives when I decided to stop at Dubai
for a couple of nights and see what all the fuss was about. Dubai
is truly excellent at promoting itself and maybe one day that promotional activity will truly represent the experience, but for now I would say that this was not my favourite place.
First of all, let me say that after staying in the Maldives for two weeks on a no-shoes paradise most places would pale in comparison. However, I tried to be objective.
To me, Dubai
is a little like Vegas - without the gambling of course! It is a town that has a little history but has really built itself from scratch, in an attempt to be an entertainment and commercial centre for the Middle East. All the major US and European companies appear to be setting up (or have already set up) offices there and the amount of development of hotels, apartments, infrastructure is truly incredible. I can imagine an architect would have a fabulous time - I am interested in architecture and I was truly awed by some of the buildings including the highest tower in the world (Burj Dubai
) and the new tram/train line. However, my main issues were:
1. Service was poor - in all bars, restaurants, shops, hotels. Most of the time the people did not understand English. Now, normally I do not mind this as I think you should try and speak the local language - but the fact is that in many of these places the staff had been employed because they spoke English (supposedly!) and they did not speak Arabic at all!
2. The only thing to do was shop. Yes, there are great malls with many shops and the goods are relatively cheap compared to the UK (although broadly similiar with online prices if you shop around) but after shopping there was not much else to do. Now, I lOVE hanging around doing nothing (after all I had just spent 2 weeks doing exactly that!) but the weather was not great (about 15 deg and cloudy) and so that left few choices. And I can imagine it is worse in the summer as it gets up to about 48 deg and so spending lots of time outside is tricky. By the way, women must cover up legs unless on the beach, so I would not enjoy going sightseeing or shopping in trousers when it is 48 deg!
Anyway, I was pleased to go to Dubai
and see it - but I would not choose to go there again. And certainly I would not waste my holiday nights there unless it was one night in transit.
One final tip: I stayed at the Royal Meridien (recommended by a friend) but I was not impressed and at £300 per night I felt that it was unjustified. Better to stay at the Jumeriah Beach which I visited for drinks and dinner and found much more impressive (for the same price). For the real shopaholic, stay at the Kempinski which is actually in the Mall of the Emirates.