Visitors, I’ve decided, are like buses – it’s been a while since any of my friends have visited us here in Dubai, then, this weekend, five came along at once.
Which meant pulling out the stops to show them a good time – while a sandstorm swept through the region, complete with rain, lightning and gusting wind.
On Friday night, with the weather looking decidedly dodgy, I ordinarily would have stayed on the sofa (no babysitter, early start, you know how it goes), but since my visitors didn’t come to Dubai to watch TV, we braved the elements and went on a desert safari.
Yes, during all that rain.
I was surprised. There were at least 30 cars, hurtling over the sand dunes in a rollercoaster fashion, and while the sunset was hidden by dusky clouds, the desert landscape still managed to enchant.
After the excitement of dune bashing, the Bedouin camp offered a chance to relax, sit back, and enjoy Arabic food, a bellydancer who shimmied like a flame and apple-spiced shisha.
Even with the lashing rain, which came through in waves – and meant the camels were led away to shelter – and despite the travel sickness endured by Visitor 1, it was a great night, filled with friends, a falcon display, Henna tattoos and wine.
On a roll, my visitors and I (in various combinations) also managed to tick the following boxes:
– Cocktails at The Address hotel in Dubai Marina (not too shabby, and the most amazing view from their room)
– A boat ride around the marina and out into the Gulf
– Handbag shopping at Karama
– Lunch at Jumeriah Beach Residence, followed by sniffing the sea air and the most scrumptious frozen yogurt
– The fountains at Dubai Mall (I love these choreographed water displays at the foot of the towering Burj Khalifa – set to music, the high-pressure jets roll and sway in all directions, to make the water, literally, dance)
– Souk al-Bahar to buy stuffed camels
– The Els Club for more drinks
– The Atlantis hotel so they could say they’d done The Palm
There’s really nothing quite like having visitors in town to make you see Dubai through the eyes of a tourist. And to top it all, we spotted Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (Sheikh Mo, as he’s affectionately called), strolling around JBR. That, I couldn’t have planned any better.