Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Look further than the end of your own nose, hey?
In an unusual move, I found myself watching the Champions League final earlier this week.  Quite aside from being a really entertaining game (don't mention the result, ok!) it reminded me so much of happy times in Manchester, when I was a regular at Old Trafford, and could tell you all sorts of facts and figures about the team and the game.  Well, it was my job to know these things way back when.  Fast forward ten years and I've no clue who half the players are (is it a sign of age to think they all seem oh so very young?) and struggle to identify which way the teams are scoring when they first hit the pitch. Hey ho.

We watched it in our local sports bar, and being in the distinct minority as females, became the object of much male attention.  In the main it was harmless chit-chat about the game. One conversation stood out above all others.  After some aforementioned harmless chit-chat, the man to my left dropped his gem: "The thing about Dubai is it's just a complete freak show, isn't it?  The buildings, the hotels, everything."

Years of media training and PR mean that I'm quite good at composing myself in situations like this.  I remained completely calm.  But my face froze.  My eyes glazed over.  My left eyebrow raised.  My temperature rose. 

I mentioned words and places like Satwa, the creek, Bastikya, the parks.  His reaction was like a pig staring at a wristwatch.  Blank.  Nothing registering.  After tossing this verbal hand-grenade he revealed that he was in Dubai on a two-day business trip.  Still  no excuse, especially as this wasn't his first time in the city.

I cast my mind over my weekend: exploring remote ruined villages in the desert, reclining on a sunlounger reading books, watching the boy wakeboard past on an azure lagoon, passing my friends relaxing at the pool, hearing the call to prayer from my balcony, watching the twinkling lights of the low rise villas in Jumeirah as the sun set into the Arabian Gulf.  Nothing freaky about any of it.

The verbal hand-grenade could tell something wasn't right.  "I've really offended you, haven't I?" he asked.  In the spirit of not flying off the handle, I smiled sweetly, said: "Of course not, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whatever limited experience it is based on" and simply turned my back on him.

Freakshow? Dubai? Get a grip.  If you never leave your 5 star hotel to explore the city, you only have yourself to blame.  This commentator wrote one of my favorite pieces so far regarding 'Dubai Bashing."  I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.

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