‘How was Sharm El Sheikh?’ the Time Out team ask collectively (in harmony, like a scene from The Office meets The Sound of Music) as I wander back into work after a week off. ‘Tacky!’ I reply in a word, to which they shrug, before getting back to writing about Dubai’s newest and flashiest spa/bar/restaurant/big event.
But those from the Sharm really shouldn’t be offended. I know there are many wonderful sides to the area – magical Mount Sinai, the overwhelmingly beautiful Red Sea, the smoky flavours of baba ganoush… It’s me that has the problem. You see, I’ve changed. I’ve been Dubai-ed. After spending four years of my social life either hanging out in five-star hotels, on beaches or aboard boats, the success of my holidays has become a little hit and miss.
Now, I’m not being disingenuous when I say that I had a fabulous time in Egypt – I just wonder whether this was only because I knew I was soon to return to the ever-luxurious Dubai. And there were indeed quite
a few moments, perhaps every other day, when it became startlingly obvious how spoiled I’ve become.
I didn’t pack shower gel or shampoo, for example, because I assumed the hotel would have some of those handy little bottles. I didn’t bother sunbathing during the uncomfortably hot hours, because I knew I was coming back to Dubai’s gorgeous October weather, unlike the (slightly singed) Russians, Brits and Germans surrounding me. And I was utterly stunned when the local taxi drivers kept stopping in the wrong place before telling me to ‘Just get out. NOW!’ I’m used to cabbies sticking with me to the emotional end, not even complaining when I have no clue where my destination is (typically in the back end of Al Quoz).
But before you roll your eyes and label me a puffed-up expat, at least I’m still aware of my newly pampered outlook. At least I manage to keep it quiet. I mean, I didn’t announce my surprise when I had to wheel my own suitcase into the hotel, because there was only a steep hill where the bellboy should be.
I didn’t tell anyone how annoyed I was at having to assemble my own diving gear, instead of finding it set up for me (as they do at the high-end Atlantis Dive Centre). And I definitely wouldn’t mention how miffed I was when I found out that I had to pay to get into Pacha, instead of stumbling in before 10pm for free (as you do at the frankly far-more impressive Nasimi Beach). Because then, of course, everyone would think I was one of those braying Dubaians I met when I first arrived here. Just imagine that!