I had a lot of preconceived ideas about Dubai, more negative than positive to be honest, based on accounts from friends and family who have either lived or holidayed here. Artificial, flashy and uber-conservative were the impressions that I had; I was wrong on many counts.
Dubai literally ended up on our itinerary due to flight patterns, and us using our stopover here to visit somewhere that we have always wanted to visit (we even explored the possibilities of living here on one or two occasions). 45 degree August desert heat was clearly never going to be the ideal climate, but it did allow us to book a five star all inclusive stay at the Amwaj Rotana in Jumeirah for a fraction of the peak season cost. Everything about the hotel has been impeccable, from the view, to the service, to the food. Even the airport was the easiest to get through, with no pesky landing cards to fill out and two tourist SIM cards helpfully handed to us with our passports.
Dubai fully deserves its status as a luxury holiday resort. Yes, it is a man made city sprawled from the riches of its first oil discovery in 1966, but it is spectacular, and a whole lot more welcoming of its Western tourists than I thought it would be. Everybody has been extremely friendly and respectful ; they value the importance of the tourist industry (after all, the oil will run out one day) and all they ask in return is mutual respect on the part of the tourist, for example not wandering around in beach attire away from the beach and no overt displays of public affection: none of which is unreasonable.
Dubai is what it is, and we have loved it here. From it’s crazy malls complete with swimming sharks and dancing fountains, to its pristine waters (genuinely as hot as a bath-it made Malaysia’s sea seem cold!), no expense nor effort has been spared-certainly in the areas that we have visited. Crazy hot yes- but with strategic early visits to the beach, a cooled pool and full use of air conditioning all over the place, the summer heat has been surprisingly manageable. Certainly the surprise destination of the trip; we will return.