I have been to Dubai 3 times after my first trip. During each of the trips, I was fascinated by Dubai. I have witnessed how man has played with nature and how man has totally defied nature in building Dubai. Whenever I have been to Dubai, I believed that anything is possible if one wants to make it possible.
The opportunity to visit Dubai came suddenly due to a last-minute management decision. IBM was organizing a workshop in Dubai in the first week of February13 on the outsourcing deal with us and at the last-minute our management decided that I should attend the meeting to state the needs of Quality Assurance. My Boss’s secretary, Evan, made the needed arrangements for the tickets and hotel. I arranged with Mr. Swamidas to drop me to the Airport. I finished office and started for the Airport at around 6:30 PM. I reached Dubai and was out in the City at around 1:00 AM. I took a taxi to the Hilton, Jumeira hotel where I was booked to stay. It was a very comfortable room. As the hotel did not have smoking room, they advised me to smoke in the balcony of the room. Next morning, I had my breakfast and took a taxi to the Dubai Internet City. On reaching Dubai Internet City at around 9:15 AM, we could not find Arenka Towers. I called Mr. Shammari and he guided the taxi driver to the venue of our meeting. I joined the meeting thinking that I was the last person among all the participants. However, this was not the case as our CIO joined later; but then he has the privilege.
We finished our meeting at around 5:30 PM. Mr. Shammari told me that he wanted to buy some clothes from a particular shop. I joined him and we walked to the nearest Metro Station. We took the train and got off 2 stations later and then walked searching for the shop. After a bit of searching, we found the shop and Mr. Shammari bought what he wanted. We walked to a nearby Indian Restaurant and Mr. Shammari treated me to dinner. After dinner, I went to my room and slept as I had very little sleep the previous night.
Next morning, I got up in the morning and got ready. After breakfast, I went to the Concierge and asked for guidance about what I could do during the day as my flight was at 8:50 PM in the night. The Concierge arranged a Taxi to take me around Dubai for the day at a charge of AED 800. I agreed. I met Mr. Sohail Khan who would take me around Dubai. Sohail first took me to The Palm. We drove through the Palm to reach Atlantis. At Atlantis, I found that there is a Helicopter Service. So, we went to the Reservation Center. At the Reservation Center, the officer told me that there was only one available seat in the 3:30 PM flight for 25 minutes. I reserved the seat at AED 1250. Then, we drove back into the city and went to Burj Al Arab. After spending some time there, we went to Jumeira Mosque and then drove past Port Rashid to reach the Heritage Village. The Heritage Village was the erstwhile Palace of the Rulers of Dubai. From Heritage Village, we went to the Deira area. There I visited the Gold Market. By now, it was getting close to 1:30 PM and so we decided to drive back to the Atlantis for the Helicopter Ride. On the way, we picked up sandwich and coke from Subway.
The Helicopter ride was majestic and I enjoyed it thoroughly. We were 4 of us in the copter and we flew past the Palm and then the Islands of the World and then over the Dubai City. After the flight, we headed to Dubai Mall. I was amazed to see such a huge Aquarium in the Dubai Mall. I had a grilled salmon and bought a miniature Burj Al Arab. At around 6:30 PM, I requested Sohail to head to the Airport. I received a SMS from Mr. Shammari to meet him at the Starbucks Coffee Shop in the Airport. I checked in and headed for the Starbucks Coffee Shop that I knew in Terminal 2. I could not find Mr. Shammari there. I had a doubt and inquired with the Information Desk about the gate for my flight back to Riyadh. I was informed that I need going to Terminal 1 and I could take the train. I rushed to the train service and reached the gate with just about 5 minutes before it would be closed. There was no further adventure as Mr. Swamidas was waiting at Riyadh Airport to drop me home.
In the third week of February, I was to go to Dubai once again for meeting with SAP. Again, Mr. Swamidas dropped me at the Riyadh Airport. I reached Dubai and checked out of Immigration at around 2:00 PM as there was a lot of rush. I reached the Grand Millennium Hotel at around 2:30 AM. After changing, I found that I just could not sleep. I kept tossing in my bed throughout the night. In the morning, I went to the Swimming Pool on the roof of the hotel. They were cleaning the pool when I got there. I waited for 15 minutes before the pool was declared as open for the day. I swam for about 30 minutes. It was very relaxing as I was swimming after a very long time. I had my breakfast and started for Arenka Tower with my colleagues. As we were 3 of us, there was no challenge in finding Arenka Tower this time.
Soon, the meeting started. I found it very difficult to stay awake. So, I started asking questions. However, my colleagues were not enjoying this. So, I stopped asking question and slowly drifted to dozing in the meeting. I kept trying to follow what was happening. I would wake up in between and ask a few question and again go back to sleep. Assad kept poking me from time to time to keep me awake. We finished at around 5:30 PM and I headed straight to the hotel. Haitham asked if I wanted going to a Shisha Bar. I refused and straight went to my room and slept. However, once again, I just could not sleep. I ordered some dinner and again went to sleep. Again the same issue. However, I did get some sleep for about 3-4 hours. Next morning, again the meeting started and I was drifting into sleep. My tryst carried on till we reached the end of the meeting. Now, I was fully awake and I was pulled out of the meeting to a separate meeting to discuss the Architecture. This was very interesting and I was back to my normal self. I joined back into the main meeting and we had a healthy discussion to close the meeting. Haitham dropped me and Imran at the Airport and we were back to Riyadh safe and sound.
Two weeks down the line, I was to go to Dubai once again. This time it was to meet NetCracker. I clubbed this trip with a visit to Bangalore where I wanted to start a project with Wipro for Architecture. I had regular meetings with Wipro at their Sarjapur Office and they were very draining as I had to do a lot of talking. I am very comfortable talking. However, when I have to talk sense for so long, I have a serious challenge. Anyway, I completed my rendezvous with Wipro and had one meeting IBM in their office in Manyata Tech Park. I started for Dubai on 11Mar13. I reached Dubai and went through Immigration. When I came out of Immigration and put my handbags for scanning, the Lady Officer asked me to empty the bag. I took out all the items one by one. She grabbed the Electric Cigarette I had got from Green Smoke. She told me that Electric Cigarette was illegal in Dubai. I was immediately very tense. The officers were talking something in Arabic. All I could understand was that they mentioned hashish a few times. This made me tenser. The Lady Officer explained that Electric Cigarette was bad for health. She handed the kit to another Officer. The Officer asked me to follow him. I followed him. On the way, I requested if I could collect my checked in luggage. He agreed and helped me put them on the trolley. I went to the Customs Office. There another Lady Officer was sitting behind a computer. The Lady Officer was very kind and helped me to calm down. She kept fiddling with the computer for some time. In between, I asked her if I could keep the leather case. She smiled and told me that I could keep the complete kit as the system was not working and so she could not register the catch. She handed it back to me and told me to never get it back to Dubai. I thanked her and collected my Electric Cigarette kit and left the office. I bought some Cigar and headed for the Emirates chauffeur service. The car was waiting for me and took me to my hotel.
The meeting originally scheduled for 2 days was cut short to 1 day affair. So, I had a free day on 12Mar13. I spent the day in the Hotel Arjaan Rotana. Now, the hotel did not have a smoking room. So, it gave me a room on the 24th floor. In the entire floor, there were 4 suites. I got a suite with 4 bedrooms and 5 toilets and 1 huge kitchen and 1 huge dining space and 4 balconies. The room was so large that I used to get lost navigating. On 13Mar13, we had our meeting and I did not sleep much in the meeting. In the evening, I took my flight back to Riyadh and was safe in my apartment at about 1:00 AM.