On a very long layover in Dubai – my first visit to the city and the UAE – I gave a pass to the tallest skyscraper in the world. I gave a pass on pretty much everything, but why?
A Very Long Layover
On a recent trip to Armenia and due to Covid-19 flight frequency reductions, my route to Yerevan included a series of long layovers. On both the outbound and return, I spent eight and nine hours in Dubai, respectively. This was my first time in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (I know, I know, I shouldn’t even write a travel blog unless I have taken Emirates first class and showered on the A380 yet here I am.)
During the outbound, visiting the city wouldn’t have really held much for me as I spent the hours of midnight to 8 AM in the city, however, the return hours were from about 4 PM to nearly 1 AM. Initially, I had set my sights on spending a little time in the city and seeing some of the Islamic architecture around the city.
Dubai, and Her Many Attractions, Have Long Been Atop The List
There are so many wonderful things to see in Dubai but among them is the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The stainless steel building with hand-cut glass panels and reinforced concrete is a marvel even among great high rises throughout the world. I also would have liked to have seen the Dubai Mall, the coastline, Dubai creek, and some of the local restaurants.
The photographs shared online do so much for the advancement of the city. Who doesn’t want to swim in infinity swimming pools overlooking the sparkling city below? Who doesn’t want to eat at the highest restaurant in the world or walk out onto the observation deck of the world record for tall buildings in the history of humanity? Skiing indoors does less for me, but it’s yet another interesting novelty.
Not going to Dubai for so long felt like we were missing out and as much as we want to be above the touristy moments, we aren’t.
Why Didn’t I Visit?
My family had planned to visit in 2020 but Covid-19 had eliminated that from our list. We wanted to visit a number of areas in the region including Muscat, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, Qatar among others. As I sat in my hotel room preparing to go out to the city to see the Burj, Dubai Mall, and other places of interest, it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to see them without my family there with me.
It might sound cliche or trite but it didn’t seem fair to be there without them and somehow staying in my hotel room instead felt like the only right way to be in Dubai alone and wait for the opportunity to really see it with my family together.
As I get older, my travel desires have changed. Instead of racing through a destination just to be able to see it or write about it weighs less than the experiences that I have with those that I care about. In this instance, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do to take in this city that we have all wanted to see for some time without them.
We often “leave” things undone in places we want to revisit so that we have a reason to return. Until our last visit to Paris (after about ten prior visits) I had never seen Sacre Coeur. I was leaving myself a reason to go back. We still have that in Dubai for my family and in reflecting on it, it felt right when I left.
On a long layover in Dubai, I intentionally decided not to visit the city and its sights. Unlike times in the past when I would have seized the opportunity to view something new, it didn’t feel right without my family there with me so I gave it a pass, leaving it for when we can all enjoy it together. This marks a shift for me as a traveler, but an evolution that I welcome in my old age as priorities shift to experiences with others over experiences for the sake of convenience and the opportunity to take it.
What do you think? Would you have run out to see the sights? Have your travel behaviors changed with age and time?