MT BUSINESS TRAVEL: Frequent flyer - Mark Bowman's guide to Dubai


by Mark Bowman, director of S&B Building Equipment Ltd

I fly with Emirates direct from Manchester to Dubai International. The flight takes about seven hours.


If you fly business class with Emirates, the airline provides a courtesy car into town, as do most hotels. There are no trains in Dubai, but taxis are extremely cheap. From the airport, it's about 10 minutes to anywhere in the centre. Allow extra time during the rush hour.


The Emirate Towers 1 (Sheikh Zayed Road, tel 00 971 4 330 0000) is simply stunning. The rooms and service are fantastic, with every conceivable amenity for the business traveller. If I've got an early morning flight, I stay at Le Meridien Dubai hotel 2 near the airport (Airport Road, 08000 282840).


The Seafood Market at Le Meridien hotel 2 is a real experience - like a big market stall. You choose your fresh fish and the chef cooks it to your requirements. The tables are well spaced and the service discreet, so it's good for talking business.


Scarlett's Bar in the basement at the Emirate Towers hotel is popular. There's also a district known as Irish and Century Village, which is packed with bars. The hottest nightclub is Zinc 3, where you can party till the early hours (it's inside the Crowne Plaza hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road).


Travel up Dubai Creek on an abra (water taxi) to see the major landmarks on both banks. Water taxi pick-up points are dotted along the creek on both sides. Get dropped off at the ancient gold and spice souks on the Bur Dubai and on the Deira 4 side of the creek. No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to the Burj Al Arab 5 seven-star hotel. Its architecture and interiors are mind-blowing. A guided tour of the hotel costs roughly $25, refundable against food and drink purchases. Views from the top are spectacular, and include the new Palm Island development (the eighth wonder of the world) now emerging from the sea.


Dubai has a very multinational feel, illustrated by the fact that UK premiership footballers are buying up Dubai properties.

I deal with a lot of Brits, South Africans and Australians when I'm there.

Meetings are more relaxed than in Britain. Dubai locals are polite and professional, but can drive a hard bargain. Doing business in Dubai is very pleasant. It's much easier to get an appointment with a company CEO than it would be in the UK.


The Dubai Museum 6 (inside Al Fahidi Fort, on Bur Dubai) offers an insight into how far Dubai has come - not too long ago it was a fishing hamlet. An exciting way to spend an evening is to take a dinner cruise on the creek.


The best travel deals are through agents who do flights and rooms in the same package. Avoid visiting in July and August, when temperatures can reach 50 degrees C. Also, if you visit during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and cigarettes from dawn to dusk. Non-Muslim visitors must refrain from any of these in public places. That said, the end of Ramadan (Big Eid) is great fun - a bit of a party!

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