After threatening to go to Dubai for a number of years, I finally went for my first ever visit. I was favorably impressed, notwithstanding Dubai is obviously suffering from a recession which is slowing its monumentally ambitious plans for the future.
My reasons for going were to generate media coverage in the region for next year’s Brilliance of the Seas program, to meet tourism officials from the ports of call Brilliance will visit when she arrives in January and to interact with European travel agents we had brought to Dubai for a familiarization. Arabian Travel Market was taking place in Dubai at the same time so all of the nearby destinations were present. And when I say present, what I mean is that I have never in my career seen such elaborate trade show stands. I think some of the hotel companies could have saved money by dragging a whole hotel on to the trade show floor rather than use the booth displays I visited.
When we decided to offer cruises in the Middle East, we did not expect to sell them to Americans. We expected the sales to come primarily from the UK, Germany, Russia, India and the local market. Now that the cruises are on sale, we find some Americans are buying cruises on Brilliance out of Dubai. These customers probably already know that within the region there is a diversity of current events, states of development, cultures, histories, cuisines, etc. After my trip I have a much greater appreciation of this variety. The memorable after-dinner outdoor sound and light show I saw courtesy of our new relationship with Dubailand accentuated the attractions of the region.
One impression from my visit was very reminiscent of our industry. The man-made attractions of Dubai are abundantly clear – e.g., the seven star hotel, the world’s tallest building, Atlantis and the almost completed monorail system, not to mention the remarkable Palm I and the World developments jutting out into the Persian Gulf. In fact, in my experience only Shanghai and Las Vegas rival Dubai for state of the art urban design and architecture. Nevertheless, it was the hospitality of the people that really shined through. Hmm, I sound like a cruiser.