View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dubai for Australians

Yet another article on Dubai in the Travel section of Melbourne’s leading newspaper, The Age, although it looks like it has been recycled from Wellington’s, Dominion Post.

How does the writer tantalize people from ‘Down Under’ to come to Dubai? In an article entitled, ‘Truth and Trickery in Dubai’, the anonymous writer tells stories of seeing belly dancers that “make the tourists happy”, dune bashing, desert camps with plenty of booze served by dishdashered waiters who appear to be ‘on the turps’ (as they say in Oz).

And what about the trickery? The belly dancers are from Egypt not Dubai, a 10 metre camel ride is only long enough to take a photo, women doing henna painting were from India, the guide was from Bangladesh, the fake archipelagoes—The Palm and The World, buildings constructed by underpaid foreigners, artificial ski slopes… But on the positive side (‘the truth’), there are the souks, the crossing of the Dubai Creek in an abra and visits to some traditional Emirati sites.

For the practical details about visiting Dubai the writer warns not to go now as it is too hot. Furthermore, “avoid Ramadan: it's illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public in daylight hours.” November to April is your best bet as these are the coolest months.

The overwhelming picture painted by this travel writer is summed up in this statement: “Like our ‘desert experience’, much of Dubai is essentially fake.”

This writer might have been having a bad day or is this the way Dubai is being experienced? The tour operators must take some responsibility for staging such an itinerary or is this the circuit that most Aussies crave? Hopefully there is a yearning in the hearts of many Australasians for a travel experience of Dubai and the UAE that is authentically Emirati.

To read the article that Melbournians will browse over their breakfast this weekend:

‘Truth and Trickery in Dubai,’ The Age, 12 June 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: This image appears in The Age alongside this article with the caption: “Even Dubai's belly dancers aren't exactly ‘real.’”