As part of my role as Tour Consultant, I am lucky enough to be taking part in an inspection visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where I will spend a fantastic three days visiting the top sporting facilities and excursions on offer!
Here’s what I got up to today…
Day 1 – Arrival
After a comfortable 6.5 hour flight from Heathrow, I arrived into Dubai at 7.30am. Leaving the air-conditioned cool of the airport to get into my waiting taxi, I got the first taste of the heat that would be with me for the next few days. Having left the cold and rain in the UK, I was certainly not going to complain!
The friendly taxi driver gave a running commentary into the city, as my first glimpse of the famous Dubai skyline showed the recent investment into infrastructure and the opulence of the city. It all felt both very big and very modern, what with the new overland metro system keeping the 8 lane motorway company into the city; just 100 feet above the ground!
We shortly arrived at our favourite group hotel, the Chelsea Towers. Brilliantly situated on the main thoroughfare in Dubai, the hotel is right opposite a metro entrance, alongside a bank with ATM’s, a pharmacist, a small supermarket and a host of 24hr eating options including a Subway, BurgerFuel and Pizzahut – particularly useful for your pizza/movie nights.
Having quickly freshened up, we set off to visit Dubai’s sports facilities, kicking off at the world-class International Cricket Council (ICC) HQ. The ICC boasts a fantastic 25,000 seat stadium and three ovals, each with strips of clay and soils imported from around the world to ‘mimic’ those of home! Handy no doubt when so many international clubs and teams are taking the opportunity to train and play here.
We then visited the equally admirable rugby, football and netball arenas; so good that the Spanish School of Soccer has set up base here. Run by the former Real Madrid legend, Michel Salgado, the best teams are guaranteed excellent training facilities and matches.
Whatever your sport, because of the diverse commercial background in Dubai, rugby, football, cricket and netball teams will find themselves playing against Brits, Aussies, Pakistanis, New Zealanders, South Africans, Indians…you name it!
A quick dash back to the hotel, and we were off to the shopping paradise that is Dubai Mall. It is the biggest shopping centre in the world, with a staggering 1,200 shops! But that’s not all, it’s also got a full size ice hockey rink, three storey waterfall, an aquarium (with sharks, rays and tuna) and even a ski slope! If you do visit, just make sure you give yourself a full afternoon here.
All shopped out, it was time for dinner, and where better to eat than Carluccio’s? This branch happens to be on the terrace outside the world’s biggest indoor mall, next to the world’s largest choreographed fountain display, overlooked by the world’s biggest building, the Burj Khalifa!
Needless to say, we enjoyed a great meal made even better by the stunning Dubai fountain display taking place every 15 minutes. Being set on a 30 acre manmade lake, with 6,600 lights and water jetting up to 500 feet in the air, it’s – like much of Dubai – something that must be seen to be truly believed.
After all the excitement of today, I really don’t know how it can be topped tomorrow, though can’t wait to find out! Watch this space…