Don't sleep on the UAE, where changes come fast

I got back late last week after six mind-altering weeks in the good old USA. My, how things change in such a short space of time. Here are six things that I immediately noticed about the UAE after my month and a half in New York:

1. Nearly empty streets. After a long time living in the hectic bustle of Manhattan, I got off the plane to find the streets of Dubai almost devoid of traffic in the post-Eid, midsummer doldrums. On a trip to Abu Dhabi, even Sheikh Zayed Road was almost deserted. If New York is “the city that never sleeps”, the UAE is the country that obviously appreciates a midyear nap. And why not when temperatures are in the high 40s and the holidays beckon?

2. Emirates Airline’s Indian business is booming. The flight to and from New York was jammed full both ways, and even the spacious A380 was struggling to contain the payload in anything resembling comfort. By far the biggest contingent was passengers from Indian airports, many of whom were using Emirates’ code-share deal with US cheapie airline, Jet Blue, to fly on to other American destinations. Lucrative for the Dubai carrier. But why have Indian airlines not spotted the potential?

3. The Dubai International Financial Centre has embarked on a major gastronomic initiative. No less than three new eating outlets are operating there. (To be fair, some were open before I left for NYC, but I hadn’t noticed until this week.) The ­Peruvian Totora Cebicheria Peruana, the multinational Bazxar and the self-explanatory Burger & Lobster have all opened up within DIFC precincts. Some very enjoyable degustation lies ahead during the summer months, as DIFC becomes a major leisure hub as well as a financial one.

4. My bedroom has turned into a construction site. The high-rise development of Marina Gate, just over the road from my apartment tower, has reached almost the same height as my 44th floor apartment. The result is that I have to try to sleep with a 24-hour building site just a couple of hundred metres away. Please, developer Select Group, get on with it as fast as possible.

5. The telecoms sector’s profits are in for a major boost. I took all the precautions possible before using my mobile in the USA: roaming packages, data bundles and a vow to use the UAE-registered number as little as possible while in NYC. It did me no good. The total cost of bills incurred even on this limited usage runs to several thousand dirhams. How can this obvious gouging of customers be allowed to continue? You might expect to pay a bit more to use your mobile overseas but my bill has been at least tripled. ­Unacceptable.

6. Finally, the most significant development: the UAE Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Club has a new home. After three happy years at the Icon Bar at the Radisson Hotel in Dubai Media City, we have decamped to the grittier environs of the Locker Room at the Golden Tulip hotel in Barsha, where manager Charlie Gajan, an intriguing mix of Scouse and ­Slovakian, promises us a joyous time. In addition to the discounts, guaranteed TV coverage and the freedom to decorate the bar with as much Spurs memorabilia as we want, Charlie has also promised that Tottenham will win the English championship this year. Now how could we turn that offer down? You’d better deliver Charlie.

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