I happened to be in Dubai. A friend suggested I watch ‘Mission Impossible’. It’s not a movie I would normally see, except that my friend mentioned that it was partly set in Dubai. So off I went to the tallest tower in the world, and watched the movie which contained too many bad technicalities that kept snapping me out of the suspended reality. So much money was spent on this major movie, yet the most basic of directions were non-existent, at many levels. Simple things that would not have cost the producers anything to have done correctly, just kept giving the game away, and showing how pathetic the technical direction was.
Anyway, the movie was scheduled for 8:00 pm. It started at 8:21 — after the ads and then the previews (not to mention arriving 10 minutes early to find my seat). That’s 31 minutes of sitting there doing nothing. Shocking. Why can’t movies start on time? Just why? Or why can’t they tell us that it is 8:00 for 8:21? Simple. What right do they have to waste so much of our time. And to think I gulped down a delicious cup of real hot chocolate. As for the soufflé, I had one spoonful. I wanted to be punctual. Something about this movie madness is not right. It’s like the time I rushed in the rain and got hot and bothered in order to arrive on time at a Cher concert, only to be kept waiting for 90 minutes while the Village People sang hideous old songs like Y.M.C.A. What a waste of a rush that was. Why could they not say on the ticket when the show really starts, and who the supporting act really is? I had no idea. Why would someone who likes Cher, also like the Village People — and for 90 minutes. Go figure.
By the way, I happened to be in Dubai on business, and thought to visit the world’s tallest building. In Dubai, Sunday is the start of the working week (like our Monday). So when my American friend and I visited Burj Khalifa at 3:00 pm on Sunday, we did not think that we would miss-out on reaching the Observation Deck. Sadly, the Observation Deck was sold-out, days in advance and days ahead, which meant that we could not even purchase tickets for the next day (and we did not bother asking about any time thereafter, because our business trip was a typically short one). So I ask you, why did neither the airline nor the hotel mention to us that the Observation Deck is often booked out, so that we could have reserved a ticket well in advance? (We visited in the winter — being the off-season on a working day, during the afternoon on the equivalent of a Monday, which one would think is not the busiest of periods.) Imagine how much worse it would be during the peak season. Would one have to book weeks or months in advance? And if so, how are we to know this? An Observation Deck is not Moulin Rouge. It’s not usual to book for such things. So we live and learn… the hard way.
A hotel ought to be more than a bed. It ought to be a hub of information and support. How hard would it be for the concierge to slip a note with each check-in to say, ‘Hello, I am your concierge, and I am here to make your stay in Dubai a comfortable and enriching one. By the way, a major attraction here is Burj Khalifa, but please let me know if you are interested in it so that I can assist you to book as soon as possible, because you cannot just go there on the off-chance.’ As a traveller, I find that each city sports its peculiarities which indeed are surprising. Whatever happened to a concierge being more than a bell-hop and a person who whistles for a taxi? Why did my hotel not contact me via email so that I could have booked online, long before I reached Dubai? They did have my email address, because I had called the hotel to triple-check my confusing booking. Everyone seems to record conversations for training and nonsense purposes. However, who listens to them, with a view to finding ways to provide a better service? I would like to see a job-advertisement which reads, ‘Wanted: A phone-recording analyst to listen to all the archived recordings of conversations with clients, and then draft weekly ideas on how we can improve our service.’
Oh and another thing about American movies and Americans (notwithstanding that many of my good friends are Americans) is that they are hopeless and sometimes rude and arrogant when it comes to the pronunciation of names. They just do not bother to stop a second and ask how to pronounce things. Like calling Iraq ‘EYE-Rack’ as if Italy is EYE-talley. So in the film, Mr Tom Cruise is supposed to be fluent in Russian. Anyone who can master Russian should be able to wrap their tongue around other foreign words. Alas, Tom could not even pronounce ‘Burj’. Of the team of 200-odd people working on his film (it was a Tom Cruise Production) it seemed that he did not ask, or no-one knew, how to pronounce the name of the central feature of the movie. The cinema in Dubai was packed. Everyone wanted to see the city featured in the film. How hard would it have been for him and others to have shown a little respect and learn how to pronounce the name of the tallest building? How would he like being called Tam Cloose? Not nice. And most definitely disrespectful. He pronounced it ‘Burge’ to sound like ‘Purge’. That’s plain ignorant and insulting (but typically American, I dare say). Mind you, George W. Bush and others say things that sound like, ‘The You-knighted States’. How can the word ‘United’ be You-knighted? Why must the first letter stand-out on its own? We don’t say Tee-ex-ass? Surely it’s just Texas.
By the way, below is a photo I took of Burj Khalifa using my iPhone. After posting the article above, one of the senior managers of the Dubai World Trade Centre took it upon herself to arrange for me to go to the Armani Hotel’s fabulous bar called Atmosphere which is on the 122nd and 123rd floors of Burj Khalifa. That was a lovely gesture, typical of the hospitality of the people of Dubai. The view from Armani’s Atmosphere was superb. Mind you, the stunning city made me wonder what a Bedouin of old, would have thought of the amazing growth. Only 30 years ago, the vast majority of Dubai was just sand and more sand. To witness the development plays havoc with history. Imagine what the old tribes would make of the spectacular growth and remarkable modernisation.