Recently, some team of aviation writers were taken to Dubai for a 5-day familiarization trip. ANTHONY AWUNOR who was among the select journalists that attended the event writes that Dubai is a beautiful city where the local people reign supreme.
My recent voyage to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was very interesting and educative as well. This is not my first time of going to Dubai but this singular one left me with lots of revelations and enlightenments. At the end of the 5-day expedition, I was left to conclude that Dubai is indeed where the local people known as the original Emiratis are always the king and will continue to be Kings and Queens of the Arabian city.
With only about 17 per cent Emiratis in the city, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians constitute 50 per cent while other nationals constitute the remaining percentage of the entire population of Dubai. Despite the differences in number, the Emiratis have continued to maintain their positions as the original occupiers of Dubai City.
The 5-day trip was fully sponsored by the multiple award-winning Emirates Airlines and the journey took off on 21st March, 2018 from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos after a brief chat and photo sessions with the Emirates Country Manager, Afzal Parambil at the departure hall terminal.
Our team comprising of 4 journalists were boarded into the prestigious business class of a waiting Emirates Airlines flight EK782 at about 11:40am after which the plane took off at about 12:50pm. The aircraft cabin looked good as Emirates Airlines had completely refreshed its interiors for Boeing 777 aircraft
Although, it was not as rich as the new first class private suites but I found myself very comfortable at the seat number 11E in the business class cabin. With floor to ceiling sliding doors and sleek design features inspired by the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Emirates’ new suites seems to have taken luxury and privacy to the next level. With high standard in-flight services, all cabin classes were equipped with a new generation of Emirates’ award-winning ice inflight entertainment system offering improved and superior image quality.
Each in-seat screen featured ultra-wide viewing angles, a capacitive touch screen, LED backlight and full HD display. After about 30 minutes of stabilizing in the air, the cabin crew swung into action. Emirates inflight services are second to none. As a regular traveler I had studied their menu list chosen from the airline’s menu of gourmet dishes inspired by their region.
These foods were complimented with champagne, fine wines, spirits, beer and soft drinks. I started with a refreshing mocktail with cucumber and lime and later ended up with roasted chicken with cumin, served with spicy carrot salad. Throughout the journey, Emirates served me beer but the quantity was measured. I later understood from the training school that the crew members are trained not make any drunk in the aircraft. So extra quantity of Heineken beer I demanded was cautiously turned down.
We arrived at Emirates Terminal 3 in Dubai at 22:55 on the 21st March, 2018 and the Arabian city was fully awake. We were received in the waiting arms of the Arabian Adventures team with the greeting “ahlan wa sahlan” meaning “welcome to Dubai”. Arabian Adventures offered us personalised service and what can be described as a true Arabian hospitality. Being the most experienced tours and safaris operator in the region, their tour guide, simply called Amira who led us through part of the trip provided a hassle-free experience.
With excellent local knowledge and speaking a variety of languages, Amira shared interesting insights and fun facts on every tour to make our experience richer. Without wasting time, the same Arabian Adventures team took us to Address Boulevard in Downtown Dubai.
Address Boulevard located along Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard is a sophisticated city lifestyle resort in the heart of Downtown Dubai. The hotel stands tall in the heart of Downtown Dubai, surpassed in height only by BurjKhalifa in the immediate vicinity.
The hotel is a short journey from Dubai Opera, the multi-format performing arts venue, assuring visitors cultural experiences like never before in the heart of the city. Other iconic attractions include Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, all in Downtown Dubai. Additionally, business guests have the convenience of being in close proximity to the Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai International Convention Centre.
As soon as we alighted from our cabs, the security officials in the Address Boulevard hotel whisked away our bags, ushering us into the lobby where they later allocated us to our separate rooms. I was very lucky enough to have been allocated to room 1008. The room was very cozy and large with neat and sparkling pure white beddings. The fridge was filled with assorted drinks while a basket placed at the centre table was filled with different colours of apple fruits. I was disappointed when I also found a pressing iron and ironing stand inside the wardrobe because I had painfully carried one of my little small iron from far away Nigeria. There were also hair drier, tea machine and green tea bags that can last a tea lover for good one week. This beautiful and luscious Address Boulevard Hotel happened to be our new home for the 5 days we stayed in Dubai.
Emirates Aviation College (EAC)
Day 2 of our trip on the 22 March, 2018 started with breakfast at the third floor of the hotel after which we were taken to Emirates Aviation College (EAC). There, we were received by Kenyan born Violet Anyonge who is the Training Manager-Induction Crew Training at the school.
Mrs. Anyonge took us through the activities of the college from entry requirements and categories of training offered in the college. She was friendly and being an African, there was this spirit of brotherhood that existed as soon as she mentioned she was from East Africa.
According to Anyonge, Emirates Aviation College (EAC) – Crew Training has thousands of attendees in various training courses. Covering different disciplines from Safety & Emergency Procedures, Medical Training, Service and Image, she said the training college caters to both new cabin crew recruits as well as existing crew.
Opened in 2007, Anyonge said the EAC Crew Training facility supports training in a number of key learning areas for new recruits, the ab-initios, who undergo an intense 8 weeks of training, adding that the training centre houses a variety of specialised training rooms and equipment to support learning in the areas of: Safety & Emergency Procedures; Medical Training; Security Training, Cabin Service Training, and Image & Uniform amongst others.
Anyonge also said that in the course of the There is also a dedicated Induction team who take care of the new recruits as they arrive and settle into Dubai, introduce them to the city and guide them on the culture and traditions of the region.
According to her, Emirates training has both theoretical and practical components and the courses are conducted by highly qualified staff, many of whom are former cabin crew themselves.
She also took the team through the EAC Crew Training facility is equipped with advanced full motion simulators including A330/A340, Boeing 777 and A380 that makes emergency scenarios for new cabin crew very realistic.
She further said that service training in mock aircraft across Emirates’ fleet types and cabins makes sure that crew are familiarised with the aircraft in a true-to-life environment, while they practice serving different types of meals and responding to service requests from customers.
Anyonge said “Here they practice how to jump and how to instruct their customers to jump. They will be having different scenarios, they will be told that they have crashed either in the desert or water. There are a lot of tabulars in the simulators; so you actually feels that you have crashed. What we are looking at is to access how assertive are the crew in making sure that they can control the passengers evacuation. Last year when we had an incident at the airport that was the time that we were able to access how effective our training is. If you remember it was all about how the Emirates crew were able to evacuate the aircraft in 90 seconds”.
“Apart from teaching them the skills in terms of what they need to evacuate ; for us it is also important for them o practice so that when they go out, they will be competent in terms of knowledge and also confident in carrying out what they are supposed to do”, Anyonge added.
From the EAC, we moved on for lunch at the Dubai Mall and from there went to the top famous Burj Khalifa. The team went as far as 124th floor. At 828 metres (2,716 feet), Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. We visited the main observation deck and outdoor terrace on level 124 which offered 360 degree views of the city. We were later picked up from Burj Khalifa to the Address Boulevard. After some minutes rest, we then went for dinner at KIZA Restaurant
KIZA African Restaurant
At the ground floor of Emirates Financial Towers along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates lays the KIZA Restaurant and Lounge popularly known as the only pan African Restaurant in the Middle East.
To a new visitor, the premises adorned with map of Africa immediately reminds one of the African continent, right from the entrance to the varieties of authentic pan-African cuisine. A recent visit to KIZA shows that the cozy and large restaurant has become a platform through which premium African artists like David Adedeji Adeleke, aka Davido and Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface and many other African artistes have performed in Dubai.
Apart from mere eating and drinking KIZA equally offers best-in-class pan-African hospitality and entertainment services, spanning across dining, music, fashion, art and entertainment.
While we were still eating and dining, CEO and Managing Partner of KIZA, Joseph Osawaye informed that KIZA brand was established in 2012 as a casual dining and entertainment brand, quickly developing a unique market position across all of its segments.
Also receiving the Emirates media team at KIZA was the Operation’s Manager, Glen Vambe who urged the visitors to experience KIZA’s warm African hospitality.
To Vambe, KIZA is the first authentic pan-African restaurant in Dubai, just as he pointed out that their menu consists of a selection of popular dishes from across the continent.
“This is the only pan African restaurant around. We try to offer cuisines that encompasses African choices and options”.
According to Vambe, KIZA is a multi-cultural outfit as they have been able to employ workers cutting across Africa nations like Nigeria, Cameroun, South Africa, Ghana and even non Africans.
Others who were at the dinner at KIZA restaurants were Emirates PR team, including Smita Natalia Deans, Bardees Badr amongst others.
Delicious African cuisine such as pounded yam with egusi soup, Ghanaian kele wele, goat meat pepper soup, special BBQ chicken wings, peppered chicken, beef or gizzards, dulet, Sudanese Tamiya. All these were complimented with KIZA wide range of African inspired cocktails and mocktails.
There were also peri-peri prawns, tilapia fillet, princess KIZA, KIZA BBQ ribs, red snapper fillet and others.
Spice, Golden Souk/Sundowner
On the third day we were picked up at abut 11:00am for Dubai city tour. Led by our wonderful tour guide, Amira of the Arabian Adventures, we stopped by Dubai’s most famous landmarks and had an Ara ride through old Dubai to the spice souk and golden souk. We returned to the hotel at about 1:00pm and was again picked up by 4:00pm for sundowner to enjoy an evening in the desert. At sundowner, we had desert safari and also had the opportunity of watching the sunset while dune bashing, camel riding, falcon show and Bedouin style dinner was had in the desert. Our tour guide had earlier warned us to come along with sweater to ward off the dangerous desert cold. Here, I was tempted to try out shisha at the smoking area while the belly dance was going on. It was real fun.
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is an interesting place to be. It was our major location on the fourth day. Staying there for about three hours, we enjoyed and explored Dubai’s newest theme park which includes: Legoland, Bollywood Park and Motion Gate Park. We had lunch at about 1:30pm before returned to the hotel. Later in the evening, we were picked up from hotel to Le Perle by Dragone experience at the Habtour City. At the park, one thing happened. After enjoying the environment coupled with swimming and all that, some of us had our dresses wet. At that point we were asked to go and dry our dresses in a well-built small hut made like a cubicle. Here it costs about AED 20 Dirham to do that. But we refused after checking the equivalent of 20 Dirham when compared to Nigerian Naira which is about N1, 600 approximately.
Burj Al Arab
After a long day at Dubai Parks and Resorts, we also drove to Burj Al Arab, meaning a tower of the Arabs. Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the third tallest hotel in the world and stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to resemble the sail of a ship. It also has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground. Before we approached the beautiful beach, our tour guide had also warned us not to trespass areas outside the relaxation area. According to her, we were to be careful of interacting with the local ladies so that we would not contravene the laws of the land. To her, the local Emiratis are seen as sacred individuals and are well respected by immigrants coming into the city because their forefathers own the land originally.
La Perle by Dragone
La Perle by Dragone is the region’s first permanent show, located in the heart of Dubai at Al Habtoor City and brought to Dubai by Al Habtoor Group. La Perle features a breathtaking fusion of immersive artistic performances, imagery and technology and it is influenced by Dubai’s rich culture, vibrant present and aspirational future, which is brought to life by awe-inspiring stunts and special effects that will leave viewers speechless. La Perle ended at about 8:00pm after which we returned to the hotel.
At day five, we were already missing Nigeria despite the treats by Emirates Airlines in conjunction with JSP Communications. With a warm whether of temperature varying between 22 and 29 degree Celsius, there was no difference between Nigerian and Dubai whether. The city was really hot but inside the comfort of The Address Boulevard, heat has no impact because the airconditioner works 24/7 year in, year out. At about 6:30 am, Arabian Adventures team came and drove us away from the hotel straight to the airport. It was on a Sunday and I was surprise that Sunday was a working day in United Arab Emirates’ city. In fact, there were traffic gridlock because of the number of people rushing to work. We got to Dubai airport and waited for a Nigerian pilot flying Emirates Boeing 777, Mr. Ambrose Ojobo. We had a brief chat with him for 10 minutes before we boarded flight EK783 flight from Terminal 3 back to Lagos. We touched down at exactly 2:55 at the Murtala International Airport in Lagos on the 25 March, 2018. It was a mission accomplished.