I’ve already been back in Dubai for a month. In some ways it feels like I’ve never been away: Spinneys looks the same and the One is still fabulous, The Lime Tree Cafe is still my favourite lunch time venue and I am still unable to resist the siren song of Eggs Benedict More-style.
However there’s no getting away from the fact that in the decade I was away, Dubai has grown: it’s matured, gotten a whole lot bigger and a whole lot noisier. If it was a child on the world stage when I was here back in the mid-90’s, it’s a big bad adolescent now.
It does have its sophistications and charm: Friday brunches don’t always seem to be about a race to awkward drunkenness and fisticuffs in the bar by nightfall. I went to the Westin’s Bubbalicious for their (slightly over the top) offering and was impressed by the civilised feel and the laid-back attitude of the diners and drinkers. Ok, so some folks seemed a little bit over-excited about the cocktail shots served in syringes (they looked like bladder syringes to me, an ex-nurse, which was slightly off-putting…) but in general good behaviour and a good time being had by all.
Living on the Marina however I also see, and most notably hear, the bad side of the country. Boy racers in their silly cars (do you think they’re compensating for something?) and on their even sillier motorbikes tear up and down the local roads apparently delighting in the making the MOST NOISE POSSIBLE. I note that the cyclists now wear helmets, to which I am tempted to say ‘shame’ as their contribution to the gene pool is largely unwelcome.
And then there are the people who think that driving ..v.. e.. r ..y.. s l ..o ..w l.. y down the JBR Walk is a fun thing to do any night. It’s called the Walk and I think there is a clue there. The charms of the area are easiest to discover on foot, not from behind the darkened windows of your manhood extension. Sigh.
And wouldn’t it be nice if they just stopped building for a bit… have you ever wondered what it would be like to live without the fear that some massive skyscraper or extensive mall, housing development or ‘lifestyle option’ would be breaking ground next to your villa or flats? Or what the area would look like if they put the roads back and stopped fecking around with the street plans (yes, I do mean you, trams in Dubai Marina).
To end on a brighter note, I walked around the Marina itself last night amid the throngs of happy pedestrians, families and kids, holidaymakers, grannies and grandpa’s, all backed by softly lapping water, futuristic sky-scraping towers and a gorgeous sunset and I acknowledged my good fortune to be calling Dubai home for now.