The breeze doesn’t alleviate the stifling heat. It blows warmth across your face, reminding you that you are still in the UAE, looking out at the manmade lagoon and out into the sea towards Iran.
Always bring water with you. Don’t panic. Use aftersun lotion like it’s going out of fashion.
These are the holiday rules. Stick to them and you’ll survive. Ignore them and you may be found in a shrivelled heap by the roadside.
After a seven-hour flight from Dublin to Dubai with Emirates, landing at the glamorous Dubai airport is a relief. It’s a sprawling metropolis. My flight lands in what seems like the suburbs of the airport. Buses wait patiently for passengers to disembark the imposing Boeing and scurry off with its cargo, depositing people to connections to Perth, Tokyo and Kabul. It is a mini city linking people, places and experiences. Inside, impressive waterfall and shiny façade are a welcome refuge from the blast of heat that immediately envelopes you after stepping sleepily from the plane.
A web of signs, tunnels, escalators and walkways litter my journey from T3 to T2. Staffed by people from the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, I am welcomed to Dubai and sent on my way.
Ras Al Khaimah
I wake up the next day in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven Emirates that make up the UAE and 45 minutes from Dubai. It’s known as RAK Vegas to the expats that live there. It has a population of 300,000 and is surrounded by the hazy Hajar Mountains. It boasts 65km of sandy beaches, deserts and an artificial island. It borders Oman and is a gateway to the beautiful Musandam Peninsula.
Slouching to the balcony windows, I pull across the light bird-inspired curtains and delicate rose patterned net curtains. Their cascading material sweeps the floor of the apartment as they are pushed to the side. The warm air is suffocating, and yet a relief from the Irish damp and gray. The blue sky of RAK, and strategically placed palm trees by the artificial lagoon give an almost Mediterranean air to this new complex. Suddenly the call to prayer fills my ears, beckoning worshippers. Two men dressed all in white cross the square in front of the water, chatting continuously. Their voices are confident and at ease with the topic. I watch them pass into the shaded walkway and follow its shade right out of view.