|Dubai: Excitement is in the Air as 2020 and Online Promise Beckon.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Wednesday, 29th January 2014
My first day in Dubai over and I can feel the excitement in the air – the reason, a four-digit number, 2020;
It may be six years away but that number is emblazoned everywhere I look and everyone I meet is citing that number – the year of the World Expo – as why this city is once again bullish and optimistic about the future.
“The stock market is strong, property prices are rising, business is good,” a friend said, and then adding a cautionary note, “but prices are going up, and we are worried about inflation.”
It feels a little bit like those days before the BIG crash – that sense of euphoria and invincibility – but I also feel – or rather hope – there’s a bit more realism this time round for if there’s one thing we have learnt and hopefully we don’t forget, it’s how fragile everything is.
It seems loads of money is pouring into the city again in anticipation of this world event and cranes will once again become the national symbol of Dubai.
Having just visited Shanghai last week which held the World Expo in 2010 and seeing all those massive sites standing empty, I can’t help but wonder what Dubai will look like in 2021 but that’s too far into the future for me to grasp.
For now, Dubai is experiencing great weather and good business. Hotels, more than I can count, are full – it’s peak season and they are packed with Russians and other Europeans escaping their winters, and I see more Chinese tourists packing the malls and wandering around the Atlantis theme park.
I am staying at Sofitel The Palm Resort & Spa (pictured right), the latest addition to the Accor luxury brand portfolio. It opened six months ago and is supposedly the biggest Sofitel in the world in terms of keys with 361 rooms and 182 serviced apartments.
It’s got a Polynesian theme to differentiate it and like all the grand resorts in Dubai, it’s got lots of jaw-dropping stuff for you to admire. I especially like the vertical gardens – all the rage these days in modern buildings – on the walls of the corridors.