As our schedule ended up being so tight, we did not really get to know the basic information about our destination. United Arab Emirates is the country number 28 on list of countries we have visited together, and quite certainly the country we knew the least about, when we arrived. Back in Finland we had checked the weather, basic safety situation, where to get a sim card and location of our hotel in relation to Dubai international airport. Otherwise we were as ignorant as possible.
But as the saying goes, ignorance is a bliss. It’s a great experience to visit a country without knowing much about it. This way it’s possible to let the stereotypes collide with reality and be surprised. The image of UAE, as an Arab nation, was based on our experiences in Egypt a few years back, after the uprising of 2011. The tourists were gone, and our experience was quite mixed at best. The people in general were quite friendly but the atmosphere was depressing or even hostile at times outside the tourist areas and walking outside after sunset was not nice at least as a woman. UAE is a much more rich and stable country and we did not expect the same experience, but we still had some reservations.
We arrived Dubai International Airport on December 7th after 3 A.M. Laura had gotten nauseous in plane and had to vomit right after baggage claim. Our plan was to get a sim card right from airport and then use the public transport to get to hotel. We found a du (one of two operators in UAE) counter where it took 15 minutes on line and Risto to have his passport copied while Laura was barely keeping it together with stomach cramps. Right after we had gotten the 1.5 GB data pack for 112.75 AED (27.5 EUR), we noticed that our Finnish teleoperator Elisa offers 1 GB of data in UAE for EUR 19.90. So Laura’s pain was pointless and we made a 7.6 EUR hole in our travel budget.
There was a mero station right at the airport, but it was closed until 5 A.M. and due to Laura’s condition, we decided to grab a taxi. The 7.5-kilometer trip to our hotel Al Farej was 60 AED (14.70 EUR) including a small tip to the driver. The price was acceptable at least considering the slight possibility of vomiting in the metro. The hotel turned out to be spacious, clean and staff was great. The 183 AED (45 EUR) price per night seemed acceptable even though it exceeds our budget slightly. The bathroom was clean, which was nice for Laura. After 5 A.M. we were happy to get to bed. That was possible as we paid 45 euros for the room from December 6th, unlike Risto had wished.