Welcome to Everything

13 07 2010

As I settled down into my Airbus 380 seat, I wondered how Emirates would compare to British Arseways. I love watching movies so flicked through the channels. There was the usual selection of languages, quite a larger selection than I was used to, and right at the bottom was a channel for closed captions. A whole movie channel with captions – I was thrilled! I decided to try out the airline’s headphones but there was no sound. I got another pair, tried those, and bingo I could hear all the movie sound effects. With the subtitles, it was magical. The headphones fit over my cochlear implant just like a hearing person would wear them, they picked up the sound directly from Advanced Bionics’ T-mic microphone that sat at the entrance to my ear. No jiggling to get the positioning right to pick up sound. No turning the volume up to the max. It was simple, just put the headphones on and turn up the volume slightly. The cabin crew had been informed I was deaf, and they were super attentive towards me. It’s so nice when a hot guy pours a nice drink, pulls out the table and sets it all up for you with a huge smile …. and just chucks the drinks at the other passengers 🙂

Unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday but a working trip for my deaf awareness training business. (They were amazed that I could lip read them in Arabic. Tee hee.) The Marhaba welcome service whisked us through passport control and I stepped into the 43C heat of Dubai. Although it was hot and dry, every building and car was air conditioned. Walking anywhere was a no-no. Why can’t we have more air conditioning in Britain? The Arabs were super appreciative and welcoming, the food was just great, and I loved working with them. Dubai is like Canary Wharf with beaches, with scorching hot weather thrown in.  A new sound for me was the beep as I used the card to open my hotel room door – I never knew this made a sound. The hotel receptionist just didn’t understand my adjustment needs, that I wouldn’t be able to hear a fire alarm or knock at the door in an emergency, that they would have to enter my room to wake me. He kept saying they would knock on the door. He didn’t have a tooty clue.

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The Burj Khalifa,  the tallest building in the world, reached gracefully into the sky for over half a mile, and I just HAD to pay a visit. Click on this link to see it for yourself!

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I stepped into the elevator and the doors closed silently. I waited. And waited. The doors opened after 15 seconds and surprisingly we had arrived! It had been such a smooth ride that we hadn’t even realised the elevator was moving, and it is one of the world’s fastest elevators. At the observation deck on the 124th floor, I stood and looked down on people ants and toy cars, rivers of ribbon and splashes of azure blue where pools shone like jewels in the desert. The views were hazy but I could see from the Gulf coast to the Arabian desert,  I could look down on The World. The building had another 32 floors but these were residential – all sitting staring vacantly into space as there are no takers. I returned to the ground floor and explored one of the largest shopping malls in the world, with over 700 shops in the gold souk alone. (This was when my purse started to sweat mightily)

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Outside the Burj Khalifa, the 30 acre lake sparkled seductively in the setting sun and classical music began to play. The world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain, jumped 500 feet in time with the music as it danced and pirouetted around us. It was lovely to be able to hear this. This fountain ‘performs’ every half hour, every evening, at an eye-watering cost of £15,000 each time.

Check here for my video of Dubai Fountain.

I really enjoyed the beautiful architecture of the city and the attention to detail, the Atlantis at Palm Jumeirah, the amazing Burj Al-Arab shaped like a sailboat, skyscrapers built like razor blades, the traditional designs at the Dubai Mall, train stations shaped like fat cigars, smoother than smooth roads (no potholes! Can you believe it?). Close up, the detail was reminiscent of Moroccan art.

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Everywhere was sparking clean and new. Every restaurant and hotel had wonderful cakes and snacks on display. I was soooo tempted! The food was as good as the Arab hospitality.

The palatial hotel wasn’t a patch on the British ones (or maybe I just need to get out more). Check out this five hour massage – I might just book this the next time I visit! The hotel felt quite impersonal as it was so big. But it was certainly impressive and the staff were wonderful. Yet more sweet guys pouring coffee for me. Yippee. I like!

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Bigger? Better? Best? You bet!

When I left Dubai, it was such a hassle trying to get appropriate airline seats with my interpreter. She had to sit across the aisle from me so I could see her when the cabin crew spoke to me. Our reserved seats had disappeared and they couldn’t understand the concept of a hearing loss making me vulnerable in an emergency, that I needed my interpreter with me so I could have access to information. If this had been British Arseways, we might have got an upgrade, but Emirates scrabbled around and finally found us appropriate seats. The Marhaba service hadn’t been booked for our return flights as the assumption was that we wouldn’t need it. Lesson learned there!

As we arrived at Heathrow, a passenger behind me took his suitcase out of the overhead cabin and dropped it on my head. It missed my cochlear implant by an inch. I demonstrated a remarkable level of self control and said nothing but he did get the filthiest look from me.

My first thoughts on going through passport control? How dirty it all is. I love pristine marble floors and hate grubby carpets. I love air conditioning and hate sweating under the glare of fluorescent lights. I love Marhaba whisking me through passport control and hate standing in a long queue. I just wanted to turn around and go back, and have Dubai say ‘Welcome To Everything’ all over again.

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10 responses

13 07 2010
Dan Schwartz

Spectacular photography!

13 07 2010
Gulf Coast News

[…] the rest of this great post here Comments (0)    Posted in Gulf Coast   […]

13 07 2010
Liz

Lovely

16 07 2010
Speak Up Librarian

That’s very interesting that you were able to get captions on the Emirates flight. I recently posted an email from American Airlines on why they can’t offer captions.

Loved getting a glimpse of Dubai through your post and photos.

18 07 2010
Jeremy Freeman

Sounds like you’re moving to Dubai! 🙂

22 07 2010
beckssoundeffects

Really enjoyed reading this entry and comparing to my international travels with a hearing loss. I am starting to feel like my blog is more about airports than hearing loss. 🙂 I’m a new CI recipient and having lots of new “adventures” while traveling. I just came back to the states from Panama so will be blogging about that this week. Anyway, glad I came across your blog (found the link in one of your comments on the AB website), and I LOVE your photography. Take care!

28 07 2010
sammarcko

You know Tina, for all their billions, you have to wonder why the planners of Dubai forgot to lay a sewerage system. Someone pointed out to me recently that the logs I saw in the sea bobbing past my hotel window were in fact not logs of the conventional sort.

22 08 2011
Xantha

Tina, How were the acoustics @ the Dubai airport. Armstrong had an interesting brochure on the METAL panels within the Dubai airport… just curious if you were able to experience this with your AB CI.

http://www.airport-suppliers.com/supplier/Armstrong_Metalldecken_AG/press_release/Airport_Interior_Design_Complete_metal_ceiling_systems_and_decorative_wall_cladding_solutions_2/

22 08 2011
Admin

I didn’t have a problem with the acoustics there … I had more of a problem with understanding the accents.

I didn’t notice excess background noise in the Dubai terminal. I haven’t experienced such intrusion at other airport terminals (Heathrow, Qatar, Kuwait) with my CI – however I do have Clearvoice software installed which automatically reduces background noise, and the CI is much better at filtering background noise than the hearing aid.

22 08 2011
Xantha

Yea I wish clearvoice would hurry up here in the USA… I still yank the CI off when ANYONE in the open studio at work uses the tape dispenser. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

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