BAD TOURISM IS A CHOICE

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

R

egu­lar read­ers of this page will know by now that I like noth­ing bet­ter than get­ting riled up by some­thing and dis­cussing it over food with my long-suf­fer­ing friends.

A fairly in­tel­li­gent Amer­i­can mag­a­zine – of which I have been a fan for sev­eral years, mak­ing the in­ci­dent in ques­tion all the more hurt­ful – de­cided to pub­lish the most non­sen­si­cal ar­ti­cle about Dubai I’ve seen yet. That’s say­ing some­thing, be­cause there have been plenty of them over the years.

There are lots of things wrong with the New Yorker’s as­sess­ment of Dubai as a ‘non-place’ (their words, not mine), one be­ing that the per­son who wrote the piece did it based on a visit from sev­eral years ago, dur­ing which he spent just a few hours in the city on a lay­over with Emi­rates.

Few cities in the world open up their hearts to you in the space of a few hours, and even less so if you choose to go to the big tourist at­trac­tions. Hav­ing lived in both Lon­don and Paris in the past two decades, I can tell you that just get­ting from the air­port into the city cen­tre in enough time to even visit dur­ing a stopover, with­out pay­ing a for­tune or wal­low­ing in mis­ery, is an achieve­ment in it­self. Then you’ve got every­thing else to deal with: those guys sell­ing over­sized hats with flags on them; long lines of your selfie-stick-tout­ing fel­low tourists; and then half the time, at­trac­tions don’t live up to the hype (top tip: Don’t go to the Eif­fel Tower; view it from Tro­cadéro – amaz­ing views, fewer hat sell­ers).

My take­away? Don’t blame an en­tire city for your poor tourism choices. Don’t like mu­se­ums? Don’t go there, then. Don’t like malls? Don’t go there, then. I don’t like shop­ping on hol­i­day and can’t imag­ine any­thing worse than traips­ing around a knock-offs mar­ket look­ing for so-called bar­gains (the ex­cep­tion: su­per­mar­kets and drug­stores in the US and Ja­pan, where I spend em­bar­rass­ing amounts of money on snack foods and sham­poo). Some­times, places aren’t great. Some­times, we weren’t great tourists. We asked our Sto­ry­tellers to share their ideas for a 24-hour lay­over in Dubai (read them on page 9). Many of them did men­tion malls, an in­di­ca­tion that, hey, a lot of peo­ple think malls are pretty cool – along with boat trips (lots of these!), the desert, the gold souq and – no sur­prises here – Burj Khal­ifa.

There are many amaz­ing things to come: See the news from the re­cent Ara­bian Travel Mar­ket on page 62. Hatta is go­ing to be hot!

Natalie Long Edi­tor nlong@gulfnews.com

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