Is it my imagination or is Dubai becoming less oppressively humid than it once was? They are talking about it being the least humid summer in memory. Dubai humidity is different from anywhere else and can knock a grown man flat between hotel entrance and pool.
The dynamic of Dubai seems to change very time I come – last time was for a cruise on Splendour of the Seas in December, but everything has changed in the meantime. The Bonnington has courtesy buses to the beaches and the two major malls, Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai mall. I prefer the oldest part of town, Deira and the little streets where you can still find cheap eateries. The city has grown and, since the Metro, you don’t have to spend your holiday in a taxi. It has not lost its capacity to surprise.
Just beside the JLT metro stop is a slice of Ireland in Dubai.
The Bonnington is the flagship of the McGettigan empire. It is a neat building with an interesting lobby area, the “authors’ lounge” to the left as you enter and a covered swimming pool on the eleventh floor (the sun in Dubai is usually unforgiving). The hotel opened two years ago and has that rarity, an authentic Irish bar, as well as a trendy icy backlit hotel bar.
Melissa tells me of their plans to expand the franchise for the Irish abroad, and the terrific rates they intend to offer Irish visitors to a city that is especially expensive to stay in.
It is alone in its sector of the city, with 80 tower blocks around it, which means 70pc of its guests are business travellers. In summer they disappear, and the rooms open up for around u100 a night in a u200 a night city.
The Donegal McGettigan family built their hotel empire out of the North Star Hotel in Amiens Street, the Royal Hotel in Bray, the Shieling Hotel in Raheny, the Regency Airport Hotel in Whitehall and the Parliament Hotel on Lord Edward Street. The North Star is a far cry from Dubai but it too was built for William Dargan’s dreams. Dargan would love Dubai.
Time for one of the great 21st century experiences, up 124 floors of the Burj Khalifa.
This is the first building I have come across where the finished product looks like an architect’s drawing.
It looks like a reed in the Clare wind, the ones you get on the boggy bits of Mount Callan and in many ways the analogy doesn’t stop there.
The viewing deck is on the 124th storey, 24 more than the Empire State Building. The lift ascends very fast and they deck it out like a theme park ride.
When you are up there all the problems of building a tall building in a desert become apparent – you can see nothing but haze, haze in the distance, haze in the near ground, and the roads with distant cars racing away below.
Dubai is not a city from up here, it is a strip of spikey house-of-straw sky scrapers, an oasis of excess with its new metro system with its gold foil-shaped stations, the motorway network and the green city parks.
Truly tiny 40 story buildings spike up below.
The Burj Khalifa’s dilemma is clearer than the view.
Haze is the enemy here where the desert meets the gulf, clear days are few and far between in Dubai.
It is also home to Dubai’s newest luxury hotel, the Armani. Book your tickets in advance of your visit, as the waiting list can be days long.
Shopping in Dubai Duty free is not the cheap deal that it once was except for cigarettes and booze.
The pearls and the gold can be picked up much more inexpensively in the city. The gold souk and the spice souk, beside each other in Deira. Be prepared to haggle hard in the gold souk. Talking to traders is a geography lesson in itself.
It is lovely to see Dublin back on the departure board in Dubai and great to see a B777 on the route.
EK161 is the second flight out after Barcelona at 7am and it is just short of eight hours to get home, time for four movies, more as the seat beside me is empty and I can run one on their screen as well.
n In the spice souk, vanilla pods, nuts, nougat and Arabic and Indian spices are fresher and cheaper than in Ireland
n Travel across the creek between Deira and the Bur Dubai by covered wooden water taxi, or abra, a traditional mode of transport
n Dune bashing by skilled 4X4 drivers, followed by a dinner sitting on carpets under the stars
n Mall of the Emirates in the Al Barsha district comes complete with its own ski slope.
n Dubai Mall comes with a good selection of restaurants, including Ruby Tuesdays, an indoor ice arena and indoor aquarium with a viewing tunnel through the middle, a large fish tank measuring about 45 metres and home to some 33000 species and Discovery Centre upstairs.
n Eoghan Corry stayed at the Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers
www.bonningtontower.com Cluster J, P.O. Box 37246, Dubai, U.A.E,
Tel +971 4 3560000 firstname.lastname@example.org
n For the Burj Khalifa see www.burjkhalifa.ae
n Emirates have direct daily return flights from Dublin to Dubai
n First Class travellers get a complimentary chauffeur-drive service to and from the airport, from any location in Ireland, and a 50kg baggage allowance.
n Business Class travellers can enjoy Chauffeur-drive service (mileage radius will apply) and 40kg baggage allowance.
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