One of the best things about working in the Middle East is the proximity to so many places in the world. Growing up in America was a gift, truly, but it is also difficult to take a weekend trip to the United Arab Emirates from Tennessee. When I found out that one of my best friends would be an hour away from me over here, I was happy. It turns out, I have a lot more friends over there than I imagined.
So when I found out that another of my best friends was making the trip out for a training session, I knew I had to be in Dubai for the weekend.
I booked my ticket on flyDubai because of the low rates, but I quickly made aware of the cause for those cheap rates. Almost everything about the flight experience was far below what I am accustomed to. You know, it was a one hour flight. I can’t complain that much.
We landed in Dubai, and I made my way to the passport control desks. I had been warned already, so I was expecting some crazy lines. It turned out to be bearable. The visa counter was simple as well. I was there.
My driver picked me up in a nice Lexus, and we headed to the Habtoor Grand Resort. The driver was great: he took the time to point out buildings and other landmarks. The skyline is beautiful and growing. It is astounding to see the imagination at work.
Arriving at the hotel, I was greeted with less glitz than I had expected. You hear people talk about Dubai, and it is all Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams. The Habtoor was spectacular, but not over the top.
After some language barriers, I finally got into my room. Now I was impressed. The view was immaculate. The furniture was fancy. The furnishings and fixtures were well-done. I was impressed.
Just look at that view! Now this was a resort.
I got changed quickly and headed out the door to Barasti to meet up with Jeff and Tony. A car pulled up, and I learned a lesson the hard way. my 500 yard drive was 50AED… Thanks for that one. The cab home was 8AED.
Barasti was loud and seemed packed. Great… my phone doesn’t work and this place was full of kids who seemed straight out of high school. It was such a relief when I found my friends.
After a couple laps, we found our spot and enjoyed the night. Pretty soon, we were back to our old ways.
Reservation for 18 please. I am sure that is exactly what Saffron wants to hear… Saffron hosts a weekly brunch on Fridays. The spread is breath-taking. Dishes from nearly every type of food around the world. Tables and booths with all the different drinks you can imagine. They had a bowl of lobster tails, next to an entire tray of tuna sashimi.
I made many new friends. It was also nice because my cousin who lives in Dubai came with us to brunch.
Midway through the brunch, I decided it was a perfect time for my GoPro. This apparently got the attention of the adjacent table of six British girls. One even put her iPhone in her headband to replicate my GoPro. I felt like I needed to go over and help make some good international bonds.
After brunch, we had a private room at N’Dulge. This felt like a real Dubai club. We met some more expats, and had a great night.
After a crazy day, we needed a relaxing day at the pool. Tony, Jeff and I headed to the resort pool. There was a waterslide.
We all got a pretty intense sunburn and made some friends who actually live in Saudi Arabia.
I had a blast in Dubai. It is very close and has a lot to offer. It is a very pricey city, but it could be a nice quarterly adventure. It reminds me a lot of Miami or Dallas: Money can buy you anything. Some of the people I ran into weren’t the most polite, but I also met some amazing expats. All in all, I am happy it is a close city, and I am pleased to know so many people there.
I will definitely be returning. I made sure to leave some touristy things on the list for my trip in September.
But until next time.