Dubai – for richer or poorer


Dubai Skyline

The world wide economic recession is definitely that: World Wide. Even as far as Dubai.

I have often written about my incredible experiences in Dubai: The five star hotels, the safe environment, the shopping. It really is all of that.

So it was with a wry smile that I noticed some of the subtle yet visible changes during my last visit a few weeks ago. This particular Conference (Effective Project Coordinator) is usually held in the JW Marriott Hotel, a sumptious building in the old part of Dubai. For the six or so days that I stay there I never leave the air conditioned luxury of the hotel and I eat in 6 different 5 star restaurants. I do some serious shopping in the adjacent Hamarain centre. And I take long strolls along the various open areas. Never once do I breathe the 50 degree summer heat.

But this time it was slightly different. Only slightly but noticeable. Example: In the past each one of the four breakaway rooms had its own catering assistant to look after snacks, tea and coffee. This time there was only one guy for all 4 units, and there were only two tables set up instead of four. The quality of the snacks were, however, unchanged and delightful as always.

The business lunch was served in the Market Place Restaurant: a multi-cultural kitchen from all four corners of the world, serving more dishes than you can shake a chopstick at. Yet, this time, instead of offering 6 different fish options at the grill, only 2 types were available on display. Yet, when the Filipino Chef recognised me from my previous trip he smiled a broad smile and asked me if I wanted my regular salmon and chili cream pasta (not on display). It was produced in seconds and was as tasty as ever.

Walking in the Hamarain shopping mall was also interesting. Previously there were numerous glitter stalls against all the pillars and in all the corners selling luxury watches and stuff. This time there were noticably fewer stalls and the goods were distinctly from Chinese origin. And oh yes! They opened a new Carrefour (a large department chain store) – unheard of a few months ago.

And the escalators, instead of running 24×7, are now on automatic walk-on switches to save electricity.

The list of changes seem to touch on every aspect of life, yet they’ve managed to retain the essential quality of the Middle East experience.

Nice work guys!

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