Dubai and UAE. A subtle marriage of Westworld and Disneyland

My wife and I decided to abandon the grey and cold of the UK,not to mention the pantomime of Brexit and escape to warmth and luxury.

We designed a two centre holiday of 18 nights split between the desert in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai.

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert is a very luxurious hotel. We went for a tented villa with private pool,huge deck and insanely large bath and shower.

The view over the dunes was wonderful and the staff excellent if a bit over ‘helpful’. They tried to deliver laundry at 7.30am rather than pm to show how responsive they are. Also didn’t appreciate the call at 5.30am to see if the lights were OK. Don’t know I replied, I was asleep.

You get around by bike or buggy and the restaurant choices are limited to really only Farmhouse in the evening but the quality is great. Breakfast is very good and you can gorge yourself on fresh fruit or eggs Benedict as the mood takes you. And lots more besides.

There is lots to do if you choose to or you can lie by your pool and swim as you wish. Occasionally an Arabian Oryx will potter down the Dunes for a visit.

We didn’t do a great deal but it was a perfect place to relax and recharge the batteries after a challenging year at home.

Then onto Dubai and the Anantara Hotel on Palm Jumeirah. Nothing prepares you for Dubai. It is like approaching Venice by water taxi. Lots of nothing and then wow.

Dubai is incredibly new so the roads and bridges are smooth as butter as you drive in but the jaw dropping thing for me is the architecture. As Elly said why have one Chrysler Building lookalike when you can have two. Yes it is a building site in places but hidden between the ordinarily impressive architecture are jaw dropping buildings.

It is all slightly odd in a childlike way with the world’s largest mall containing the world’s largest aquarium next to the world’s tallest building. It’s like a child showing off what it got for Christmas and under it all is a rather robotic service culture that places westerners and Emiratees first and migrant Indians and Pakistanis a very distant second. There is a very obvious class system operating. The Uber drivers are great but the Malls slightly Westworld. You expect the sales staff to unscrew their heads for a reboot. The obsession with shopping is strange as the AED/Sterling exchange rate of 4.2 is so poor that Dubai is more expensive than London or Tokyo.

We shared a burger in the hotel and with a G&T and a pepsi it was £80. Good though the burger was,ouch.

The fountain show at the Dubai Mall is worth it for the illumination of Burj Khalifa.

One day we went to the Atlantis Palm to see the aquarium and it was stunning but slightly artificial. You can view the aquarium or you can don a scuba tank and jump right in and feed the Manta Rays by hand. So on the one hand see the wonders of nature but for an additional £50 jump into their world and scare the bejesus out of them ….and then go shopping at Tiffany’s on your way out.

That said the Anantara is fabulous and the staff wonderful. The pool access villas come highly recommended.

So would we come back? Yes and we’re even thinking about it in the summer when accommodation is cheeper but it is a tad warm.Up to 52°C or 128°F .

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