UAE

Entry Info

2nd (Sun)
May 2010

[day51] Dubai to Cairo?

I stayed only three nights in Dubai as the city was bit too demanding for the backpacker's budget. After Dubai, the next destination was Cairo but via London and Frankfurt. Many people would ask why I didn't fly to Cairo directory from Dubai and the reason was I had a Star Alliance's award flights which starts from London and travels around Middle East and Europe on first class. I'd saved up ANA mileages more than 90,000 miles by mostly credit cards, and with the mileages I booked the following flights; London -> Frankfurt -> Cairo -> (by self transportation on the land) Istanbul -> Tel Aviv -> Frankfurt -> Lisbon -> London. In fact, there were only two sections which had actual first class settings(Frankfurt -> Cairo, Tel Aviv -> Frankfurt) but I didn't mind this at all as the most important factor of this route was using Lufthansa's first class at Frankfurt.

That's because this Lufthansa's first class inspired my funny idea of flying on first class. The dream was born when I was working on a web site development project for Lufthansa in Tokyo some years ago and astonished with their facility called "First Class Terminal".

Lufthansa has a special terminal exclusively used for the first class passengers at Frankfurt Airport which is their home ground airport. At the terminal, what the passengers need to do are only two things; checking in the luggage and passing their passport to the personal assistants. After these easy procedures, they can enjoy delicious meals at the real restaurant and a luxurious limousine sends them to the airplane for the boarding. When I was developing the web site for Lufthansa, I simply wished to taste this kind of service and started saving up Star Alliance mileages. And at length I managed to accumulate an enough amount of the mileages for the first class flights.

However, just a month ago of the flight, when I was in Melbourne, ANA called me regarding this flight. According to them, only my flight was going to be operated without first class due to an aircraft issue. In other words, my flight was automatically downgraded to business. What a bummer! Besides, there would be no refunds since the flight is a part of a reward flight series and I have another flight on first class. Although I sent a sort of petition to Lufthansa asking to let me use only the terminal, they coldly turned it down for this was the rule. The only possibility to use the first class flight was changing my schedule but I had to wait 10 days at Dubai. No way, I can't help it. I reluctantly accepted the downgrade.

Anyway, I flew to London from Dubai by British Airways' first class. Yet the flight was in the middle of the night and I went to bed straight away. Well, I hope to enjoy BA's first class meals the next time when I'm going to North America from London in September.

After moving to Frankfurt from Heathrow, I had to wait more than 20 hours at the airport. Since I'd anticipated using the first class lounge and terminal, I intentionally set the long hour transit. I'd never imagined such a consequence. Nevertheless, Lufthansa's business lounge was quite spacious and very well equipped for it's their basement airport. It was a reasonably nice place to stay as long as I could stand the paid wi-fi system and big crowds.

I'd had a little sleep at terminal for the lounge was closed at the midnight and at length the boarding time came. Confirming the time written on the ticket, I arrived the gate but somehow no people were there. I asked the staff nearby why and she answered 'the airplane has gone already.'

WHAT!?

Entry Info

22nd (Thu)
Apr 2010

[day48] Dubai’s Prosperity

Dubai's ProsperityAfter the very inquisitive customs, I at length managed to enter Dubai. Incidentally, since there are few cheap hostels in Dubai according to hostelworld, I had to use a middle class hotel which set me back about 100 USD per night. There were in fact slightly cheaper options if I'd tried harder but it would've cost more than my budget anyway. Therefore only for this occasion I allowed myself to stay in a decent hotel named "Xclusive Hotel Apartments" which received many good reviews at hotels.com. This hotel is as well used for a sort of service apartment for long staying visitors and its spec was awesome. A suite room with a king size bed could be the best hotel of this trip. What's more they provided free wi-fi and airport transportation too. Considering these facts and Dubai's market, I would say their price was very reasonable. Nevertheless, it was not meant for backpackers, certainly.

Dubai's ProsperityWell, I arrived at Dubai but as always had no ideas what to do there. Questioned to the front desk about any interesting places around the area, they suggested going to Dubai Mall and I made a go for it. Though Dubai's prices are as high as Japan's, the taxi fare was not too bad. It cost about 20 AED (6 USD approx.) for 20 minutes driving. The buildings seen through the taxi's window looked like the world from Sim City.

Dubai's ProsperityDubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in Dubai and it seemed to me looking similar to some Japanese top level shopping complex like Roppongi Hills. However the scale of Dubai Mall is much grander than the Japanese ones. Walking through the whole complex in a day would be very challenging as it has movie theatres, an ice skating rink and even an aquarium. Although "Dubai Shock" is a buzz word in these days, the economic situation in the mall looked good and there are so many visitors from all over the world as well as local Arabic people.

Dubai's ProsperityOnce I went out from the mall, an astoundingly high building appeared in my sight. Burj Khalifa (which used to called Burj Dubai during the construction) is by far the tallest building of the world. Though it has been completed the main construction, the working at outskirts were still in progress. The building has more than 800 meter height with 200 floors and in other words it is three times higher than Tokyo Midtown which is the highest building in Tokyo. My iPhone camera finally couldn't capture the whole building. However, I really enjoyed photo shooting since I'd expected this situation and brought a tripod with wide angle lenses. Although I had to concentrate hard not to accidentally capture any passersby, I suppose I did take some nice ones.

By the way, I was actually thinking about the politics in Dubai. Dubai is the one of United Arab Emirates; namely it is a country of Arabian Kings. I had to rethink about autocracy even though I studied at Japanese education system which worships democracy. In a way, autocracy actually has its merit.

Dubai's ProsperityThe kings at Middle East are born as super rich and brought up with kingcraft educations. As they are always thinking about how to make their countries, which are literary owned by the kings, more prosperous, their visions towards the future of the countries are very clear. Dubai is making a big airport and office complexes in order to be a centre of the international business and Abu Dhabi the chief of UAE has been investing an astronomical amount of money into clean energy technologies for the post oil era. They are totally different from the politicians selected by popularity polls, holding back each other and ending up with cheap lavishing politics. It is said that too many cooks spoil the broth and maybe a strong leadership could make things better.

I know these aggressive investments of the Middle East countries are based on the rich oil money but maybe we can still learn a lot of things from them.

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