Seattle – Hamburg – Dubai – New York – Seattle

Less than two weeks after returning from Taiwan, I embarked on another intercontinental trip, this time strictly for business. A collaboration between Carbon Design, Artefact and Panasonic Avionics around the future of inflight entertainment took Martijn and I on a crazy trip through three continents in order to experience different inflight entertainment systems with different airlines and to visit the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.

Our first stop was the trade show in Hamburg and we also crammed in a few internal work sessions in the “Hansestadt”. Before heading out for the second leg of our trip, we had an afternoon off, took a stroll through the stunning “Speicherstadt” and discovered the “Prototyp” Auto Museum, where we spent a few hours exploring the exhibition…

Our business trip’s second stop took Martijn and me into the United Arab Emirates and the city of Dubai – an area and a city that always fascinated me. While we had a three day stay in town, our time was mostly spent on work. We did however manage to escape for two afternoons to explore the city and to participate in a desert safari.
Weighing our options for the former activity with the hotel’s front desk, we found that “leisure” in the desert city more than in any other place on the planet equals “shopping”, as there seemingly is nothing else to do in Dubai and the options given by the hotel were somewhat monotonous…

Q: “What else can we do except for visiting shopping malls?”
A: “Well, not much… but every mall has its own flavor.”

Vegas on steroids. Great.

Admittedly, there is no other shopping mall on the planet where one can visit an indoor ski resort, but I found the lack of culture and history in the dusty city combined with a generally inhumane and little hospitable urban planning and the obvious slavery-like conditions of Dubai’s poorest simply disgusting.

While I still had hopes to find the romantics of 1001 night in the desert safari, I was also disappointed here, as the tour consisted out of several caravans of around a dozen jeeps each driving around in the sand dunes, just to stop at absolutely insignificant points for a few minutes and then to continue on to another little ride until the final destination, a very touristy “desert camp” featuring a few tired looking camels, shops selling overpriced Dutch beer and gimmicky souvenirs and a little inspiring belly dancer from the Philippines…

How to best summarize my first impressions… or the lack thereof?

If it wasn’t for the incredible man-made structures, built on the backs of hundreds of thousands of men deprived of human rights, Dubai would be an utterly uninteresting and boring place in the middle of nowhere. With all its ongoing and completed constructions the town is well worth a one-day visit.

So, what do you think?