BAD TOURISM IS A CHOICE
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 email@example.com