Dubai, I’m afraid we can’t be friends any longer – at the very least, I think it’s time we took a break. It’s not that I don’t like you – I really want to like you. We’ve always had our differences, but you’ve changed. In 2006 I wrote that my main concern with Dubai was its treatment of workers from the subcontinent.

Dubai Mall. Yes, it's lovely, but would you pay thousands of dollars to come here and shop?

Dubai Mall. Yes, it’s lovely, but would you pay thousands of dollars to come here and shop?

Excess can either result in excitement or boredom, and Dubai seems to be successfully cultivating the latter. During the heady days of a decade ago, Dubai proved you could built something out of nothing. Now it seems to be about how much can be built out of nothing. The exclusivity of the mid-2000s seems to have dried up with the money, and in their place are washed up bogans in culturally and decade-inappropriate maxi-dresses, and ageing faux-intrepid short-wearing kangaroo-routeing men. The rash of unremarkable and indistinguishable shopping malls and other such ‘attractions’, each as ‘unique’ as the last, are breeding an ennui usually reserved for airport departure lounges.

Dubai from 'at the top'; it looks better from the bottom.

Dubai from ‘at the top’; it looks better from the bottom.

This was always going to happen- the naΓ―ve excitement of 2006 was spurred on by an intelligent government masterplan to ensure Dubai received tourists, and therefore an income, after the oil ran out. The bittersweet truth is that the plan seems to be working; rather than a classy-but-slightly-crass Monaco-by-Arabia, the result is much more Las Vegas meets a gaudy Arabian Nights fantasy. And it’s not pretty.

Burj al-Arab in 2006.

Burj al-Arab in 2006.

I still return to Dubai often, as a result of my stopovers while travelling (I still love Emirates Airlines). But I now know what to expect… and for me, the magic has gone.

Deira; Dubai's old city. Not much seems to have changed here, although it's much quieter than I remember it being.

Deira; Dubai’s old city. Not much seems to have changed here, although it’s much quieter than I remember it being.

Have you been to Dubai? What did you think of it?

Comments (8)

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    I havent been to Dubai, not even as a stop over. But I always thought it was the place you did stop if you wanted to shop, and when I say shop, I mean that excessive Paris Hilton style shop, not the $10 TShirt I am accustomed too. Guess I am wrong in thinking that now huh?

    Although, Id be keen to visit for the people watching, washed up bogans in culturally and decade-inappropriate maxi-dresses, and ageing faux-intrepid short-wearing kangaroo-routeing men sound hilarious. πŸ™‚

    July 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Hehehhehe To be honest, it’s not all that bad… it was just a bit disappointing to go back there after a long break, and find out that it wasn’t as ‘classy’ as it had promised to be all those years ago…

      And yeah, I had fun typing that article πŸ™‚

      July 8, 2015 at 8:28 am
  • Sarah Reply

    Omg!!! I love this!!!! I haven’t been and now I know why… not my scene at ALL!! I laughed OUT LOUD at this line: “…in their place are washed up bogans in culturally and decade-inappropriate maxi-dresses…” HA!!! Touche, my friend. You painted the perfect picture.

    July 5, 2015 at 7:30 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Hehehheeh while I was typing it, I was thinking “should I sound that elitist? Does that make me a snob? A bad person?”. Then I threw caution to the wind and went ahead with it anyway πŸ™‚

      July 8, 2015 at 8:28 am
  • Andrew Boland Reply

    still. Wild Wadi Waterpark is pretty awesome! But yes, the conditions and pay for workers in Dubai is appalling.

    July 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Yeah, Wild Wadi is a whole lot of fun. There are still things I like about Dubai… I was just a bit disappointed to go back there after all those years and see how it had changed.

      July 8, 2015 at 8:30 am
  • The Guy Who Flies Reply

    Hi Tim,

    This is a fascinating read for me. I frequented Dubai a lot during 2000-2001 and had a blast there. Since then I’ve only ever been in Dubai airport on connections, never left the airport since.

    Back in 2000 Dubai was a metropolis playground for the rich and the slightly off the beaten track traveller. Now, it feels as though almost everybody goes there, it is over popularised?

    Since I haven’t been in the city since 2001 I know so much has changed. I’m half curious to experience that change and half holding onto the wonderful memories I have from all those years ago.

    July 9, 2015 at 11:15 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      You should try and go there again some time… it’s not all bad, but it’s just not as ‘exclusive’ as it once felt. I’d be interested to hear your take on it!

      July 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm

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