Is there such a thing as 'low season' any more in Dubai?
Is there such a thing as "low season" any more in Dubai? I don't think so. I believe the emirate's mix of different nationalities means that somebody, somewhere will always want to be flying to or from DXB, and the supposed peaks and troughs have been evened out over the course of a year.
You might think, for example, that the furnace of a Gulf summer during the holy month of Ramadan would be decidedly low-season. Well, just check out the airline websites.
There are very few of what you might call "bargain basement" flights from Dubai to Europe available, unless you want to hazard the six-hour flight-change in somewhere such as Yerevan.
Towards the end of the holy month, it gets worse. Many people want to travel for the Eid holiday, I suppose, and the fares rise sharply again.
None of the airlines offers particularly cheap fares, but Emirates is usually near the top of the scales. My eyes are still watering from May, after the biggest economy airfare I have ever paid for a London-to-Dubai return, for my 14 year old son - Dhs7,200 (US$1960.50). And, because I wasn't on the flight, I didn't even get the Skywards miles. That's galling.
So let's stay in the emirate instead, shall we? What about a nice few days in one of the big beach hotels, wife, child, sun, sea, sand etc? The Dubai dream.
Well just try it. Even this month, with temperatures hitting 45C daily, prices are still pretty high at the better beach hotels, about Dh900 a night for a room when I last checked, and availability is limited.
I suppose full planes and hotels are the essentials of the emirate's economic recovery strategy, but it's irritating to be squeezed out of the hotels you've come to know all year round because some bucket shop in Blackburn has got a promotion on.
Somebody must be getting an awfully good deal on the last-minute holiday sites. I hope they can, literally, take the heat.
I hear of one beach hotel in Jumeirah that has a full-time "flop squad" - a team of muscular men waiting on the fringe of the sand for the sight of some sun-baked Brit keeling over in the noonday heat ("get a good colour in this, eh luv") and rushing them into shade and water.
I reckon they should leave them there, and let me have their room.
But then, the whole of Dubai seems to have been busting at the seams so far this summer. It must be the "Arab Spring" effect again. Travellers from GCC countries who would normally take a pre-Ramadan holiday in Sharm El Sheikh, Bahrain or Tunisia have decided instead to pack up and come to Dubai.
The big feature has been the number of Saudi visitors, I reckon. On Jumeirah Beach Road some evenings, I counted one in every three cars with KSA plates. And, as if to underline the size of the Saudi population and the diversity of the socio-economic groupings within the kingdom, many of the cars were not what you'd expect.
One particularly telling sight was when a brand new Porsche Panamera with Dubai plates pulled up at red signals alongside a battered, dusty old GM roadmonster that had obviously just done hundreds of kilometres across desert with the full complement of family and servants crammed in, plus all their luggage.
The Saudi driver looked at the Burj Al Arab, sparkling on one side, and then at the sleek black Porsche on the other, and shook his head in disbelief, or envy.
There were many Saudi and other Arab visitors in some of the livelier establishments north of Dubai Creek last Thursday evening, the last big weekend night out before the beginning of the holy month.
At one venue, where rock music hammered out by a particularly good Filipino band is the speciality, it was absolutely heaving, almost impossible to move, with the audience moving shoulder to shoulder in time to the deafening beat.
I was with a banking executive, and there was only one subject on his mind: the savage cull of jobs going on in all the big global banks at the moment.
"Oh well, there's always rock 'n'roll," he said, before he eventually swayed off into the night.
Published: August 3, 2011 04:00 AM