The recent visit of two best friends to Dubai opened up my eyes to a side of the Emirate which, to date, I had sadly not had the opportunity to experience. Deliberately timed to coincide with the best weather the sandpit has to offer and the Dubai Rugby 7s I made a pretty impressive list of ‘things to do’: Burj Khalifa, beach, pool resort, Dubai Mall, Jumeirah Mosque, Old Dubai, Bastikiya, Gold Souk, Abra ride, afternoon tea in one of Dubai’s many plush hotels, all peppered with the obligatory ‘S’ words which husbands dread to hear – ‘Shopping and Sunbathing’!
Eager to pack in as much as possible, the girls had done their own research and come up with a few suggestions of their own, and over an al fresco breakfast at the Polo Club, we strategically mapped out our few days together with military precision. Thrilled to share this precious time with besties, it was my aim to help them forget the wintry white temperatures they had left behind, and if truth be told, to safely install the UAE on their radars should a suitable expat posting ever feature in their futures!
Day 2 – Being thoroughly organised, I had pre-booked our tickets for the observation deck on the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa. However, winning the Expo threw a small spanner in the works, in that schools were given the day off….so our ‘3 girls on tour in Dubai’ party became a tearaway party of 6…..the ‘tearaway’ part being the munchkins!
At least for the afternoon the beach ticked all the boxes. Sunbathing for the ladies and charging around the place for the kidlets. Alas, the clouds conspired against us and thwarted the sun’s efforts to transform the pale to bronze.
That evening we met up with some friends of my guests and headed out to Dubai’s first ever outdoor drinking venue, the Irish Village. Now, I have been there on many an occasion however, it has always been with the munchkins in tow and in broad daylight! As I tottered over the well worn cobblelock in my new (admittedly too high for me) shoes, I felt like I had stepped into another world. The twilight hours require lining of the stomach with the stodgy hand cut chips and protein options on offer at the buffet counter.
Then as round after round of drinks was purchased, the music cranked up, the well lubricated crowd became more vocal and more mobile. The pioneers of the grass dancefloor were slowly joined one by one until the numbers swelled with rugby fans who had converged on Dubai for the rugby 7s. Fearful of sinking into the the quicksand like grass in my ‘too high’ heels, I danced on the sidelines until I could take it no longer….Kicking off the shoes, I bopped (if that verb is not a clue to my age, I don’t know what is!) barefoot alongside the exuberant crowd. Not wishing to sound like a Jumeirah Jane, but my pedicurist would disown me if she saw the state of my sand pared tootsies at the end of that night!!
A 3am return to the castle followed by an 8am kiddie wake up call reminded me why I do NOT go to the Irish Village (or any other village for that matter) so close to the witching hour!
Day 3 – The 7s…….having spent the morning at the rugby with DH and the kids, I returned to pick up the girlies to head out to watch the more interesting games. A regular attendee at the Hong Kong 7s, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I am not sure the same could be said for my BFFs! Even so, they took to it like seasoned pros! Indeed by the end of the night, they were behaving more like ringleaders than sheep! As much as it pains me to say it, it started with a sneaker belonging to a Springbok. Under normal circumstances, an innocuous enough item. At the 7s, it was a drinking vessel; add beer and consume from the heel. Athlete’s foot for dinner anyone? The Boks were kind enough to drain the beer and replace with wine at the ladies’ requests……but I would still not drink out of an old sneaker…..
Day 4 – Afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab – well…..what can I say??? Plush, 7 star, and amazing views….7 courses of too many finger-food-cucumber-type-sarnies later I am bursting at the seams……think they need to add a few more glasses of bubbly to that ‘tea’ so the food has something to soak up!
My ‘tourist’ days with my friends in Dubai got me thinking……Dubai is an amazing place. There is so much on offer; so much to see and do. Winter weather is the main attraction….add that to the sites and it is no wonder there isn’t an hotel room available at this time of year.
But for me, seeing Dubai through virgin eyes was fantastic. Taking time to see; taking time to breathe; taking time to appreciate this city…..I feel blessed to be here.