I Dreamt, I Built, They Came
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ SHY Ventures
Wednesday, 3rd May 2006
Yeoh Siew Hoon has fallen in love with a dreamer.

Met on arrival by an Indian; driven by a Sri Lankan; checked-in by a Scandinavian; bags brought up by a Filipino.

My hotel is shaped like a giant wave. Most developers would consider this to be totally impractical and a waste of prime real estate but here, they scoff at such mundane stuff and dream BIG.

From my bedroom window, on my left, I see a hotel that's shaped like a really big sail. In fact, the biggest sail I have ever seen in my life. At night, it's lit up so it looks like a giant space pod reaching out to the sky.

In front of me is an almost picture-perfect scene – white, sandy beach that stretches for miles, crystal clear waters that look so tempting you just want to dive in, a marina with sleek yachts that don't do much except bob in the waters.

It's almost as though a little boy had a dream of such a place where a wave meets a sail meets the sea and said, one day, when I grow up, I will build this. And he did.

And then when he was a bit older, he said, I want to build the world and the biggest palm trees out there on the ocean, and the world has to be so big that people can buy their own country and live on it and the palm trees have to be so big that when I go up in space, I want to be able to look down on it and say, look, mummy, look at my home.

And he continued dreaming. Of snow in the desert and being able to ski year-round and so he built the biggest indoor ski slope in the world. Of the world's tallest tower. Of the world's most luxurious resorts. Of wanting to play host to the world's travellers in thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms. Of big shopping malls where people can buy everything and anything. Of the world's largest hotel with 6,500 rooms (just announced this week).

And he built, and built. And he is still building. It is said 15 percent of the world's cranes are here.

So where am I?

Dubai, of course. The land of dreams. Where dreams don't come in small packages and every dream is bigger, better, taller, higher, richer, grander.

I've been here three days and I'm still walking around, with my mouth open.

Last night, I went by buggy and boat through Madinat at Jumeirah and I felt like a kid let loose in a candy store. If you are into architecture, design and what's new in hotels, restaurants and bars, this is your heaven.

It's not so much the buildings that thrill me. It's the idea of Dubai that turns me on.

It's as though here, the imagination has no limits. That anything is possible. You dream and you can do it. You build and they will come.

Most of all, I love the cosmopolitan-ness of it. In Jumeirah Beach Resort, they have 53 nationalities working in the hotel. At Shangri- La Hotel, Dubai, they have more than 40. You can be served by a Chilean or a Moroccan or an Argentinian or a Spanish.

General Managers here are not just general managers; they are like mini-Kofi Annans managing a United Nations-like team. It is said there are more than 100 nationalities working here, and they form more than 80% of the population.

I think this is what makes Dubai work. Every foreigner who is here has set aside social, cultural and political differences to work towards a common purpose set by The Dreamer – make money and build a city of the future.

And when you're that focused and obsessed, that spirit is catching. Everyone wants to be part of that dream. Including me.

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Check out Siew Hoon's new website, www.shy-connection.com, which features a newly-launched e-zine with a difference.
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