A few weeks ago we embarked on a trip of a lifetime across the world with Qatar Airways to Doha & Dubai. We were lucky enough to get the first class experience setting us up for a glimpse into a world of grandeur and luxury.
The flight was one of those ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ experiences that made the 13 hours of flying time somehow whiz by. From the super comfy seat (that could be made into a bed by the lovely flight attendants) to the complimentary PJ’s to the on demand food – yes, you didn’t have to wait for the scheduled food program, you could order whatever you wanted from the pretty extensive menu, whenever you wanted, we were in heaven.
As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I quickly changed into my comfy PJ’s ordered an incredible soup from the menu co-created by chef Nobu (yes, that Nobu) put on a movie and snuggled into my seat. I have a really hard time sleeping on planes but not on this ride. I slept like a baby which had me rested for the crazy adventure we were about to embark on.
Once we landed, we were whisked to the business class lounge where we could refresh (they had showers, a restaurant, deli, games room, spa and a POOL!) and get ready for our connecting flight to Dubai.
A quick hour flight from Doha, Dubai, is located on the Southeast coast of the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf. It is one of the seven Emirates that make up the country of the United Arab Emirates. Founded in 1971, Dubai is the most populated Emirate with an estimated population of 5 million and of those 5 million only around 200,000 are natives, the rest being expats and migrant workers.
Landing at night meant that we didn’t get the full feeling for the city but what we did quickly see was the highly stacked skyline. Buildings towered high above what Toronto is so outraged about and they go on for blocks, each interesting in their construction.
We stayed at The Four Seasons in both Dubai and Doha but were totally taken by the beauty of the Dubai location which was built just three years ago.
The next morning we were awoken to 40 degree weather of a perfect dry heat and the loveliest brunch. From labneh, hummus and the most delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, to your typical North American brunching fare (waffles, pancakes and scrambled eggs) the brunch was TDF!
We had the pleasure of speaking to quite a few locals, both expat and Emiratis and got a to know a little bit about this interesting place in a very short period of time, here are a few of the highlights:
- The workweek begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday making Friday and Saturday their weekend
- Dubai’s economy is based mostly around tourism, banking, real estate and aviation. They have very little oil reserves.
- Dubai is the most expensive city in the Middle East and the 22nd in the world
- The white dress that you see many of the men wearing in Dubai and Doha is not religious but rather tribal. The light colour traditionally kept those wearing cool under the hot desert heat, the black rope tied on the top of the head was to tie camel’s feet at night and the long tassels worn around the waist were dipped in perfumes and shaken under the wearer’s nose to ward off the offensive smell of the camel.
- The mall culture is real and a heaven I wish I had known in my teen years. The mall in Dubai goes on forever, has any store and any restaurant/coffee shop you can imagine (including Tim Hortons). Plus it has an indoor ski slope, so….
I found everything that we encountered in Dubai to be the best of the best. If you have ever been blown away by luxury or service, Dubai will blow that out of the water. The buildings are bigger – Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (which I went on about here) – the food is abundant, the sky is the limit.
Stay tuned for next week as we share more on or adventures to the Middle East including our time in Doha.
photos by P Plus