The departure lounge for the Dubai flight smells like fake tan and desperation. While Dubai is a shiny beacon of hope in an arrid desert the passengers are just...... well shiny. Admitting to going on holiday to Dubai is a bit like owning a Phil Collins CD or owning stone washed jeans. Shameful. But its an allure that thousands of us cannot shake.
The city, despite the curses of the global recession coming down upon it like a ton of bricks, has retained some sheen. For expats it has become the destination that is paved with gold..... Amex’s, watches and jewellry of the type you are blinded by in the gold souk.
Still this is not the place to come and absorb culture and religion, not unless you worship at the altar of Visa. The search for culture is a fruitless one and has suggestions of Disneyworld attempt at giving the punters what they expect. So while you wonder through a hotel souk the brickwork is sweating plastic and the the piped Arabic music, on sale for $15 in the hotel gift shop.
There was a howling wail of schadenfraude when Dubai’s fortunes came tumbling down during the crisis. Dubai is that friend who flounces into the restaurant where you’re meeting for dinner wailing about her pinching Gucci heels and complaining about her jetlag while clicking her fingers at a waiter. Its privileged, flashy, and it doesn’t care what you think.
There’s a saying about expats, many are FILTA’s ( Failed in London try abroad). While they’ll tell you they’re the creme de la creme in reality they weren’t cutting it in that hated Foxtons mini in Vauxhall and you feel so much better doing the same thing ( selling your soul and square footage) in a Range rover.
Perhaps this is the Dubai culture so many people search for. The sense of possiblity and dragging yourself up by the bootstraps while the people at home slog it out on the tubes. As you drink a cocktail on the beaches of Dubai, I suppose that doesnt seem too crazy a plan.