Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anyone for polo?

I went to a really marvellous place called the Desert Palm resort, which is, unsuprisingly, out in the desert.  I went there to meet a very interesting lady who may have a writing contract for me, of which more later if I get the job.  She is an ex-foreign correspondent but got a bit less keen on visiting the old trouble spots when she began to have visions of herself on YouTube in an orange boiler suit having her head lopped off by some nutcase from some pro-Al-Qaeda group or other, so she now publishes glossy magazines instead.  She's quite a lady.

But I digress.  This Desert Palm place was reet nice.  We're not exactly short of luxury hotels here but it's a bit different as it's outside the city and is home to four polo fields.  Beautiful terraces looking down on to the field with very posh looking avante-garde furniture and sculpture.  I can just imagine the Sand Warlock and I sitting there sipping a gin and lime wearing crisp white linen and trying to be so ironic that time collapsed in on itself.  There are professional players based there and the focus seems to be on chilling out, watching the polo, maybe learning a bit of horse riding.  The polo has all gone quiet for now as a lot of the players and ponies will be off to the UK for the season.  It is still a lovely place though.  There seems to be a particular skill for lush, green lawns here despite the incredibly dry conditions.  Horribly environmentally unsustainable but very nice to look at which is what matters in the UAE.  I can't see that we'll be staying there any time soon as rooms start at 1,000Dhs a night even in low season but I'm planning to pop back there and sample the restaurant once I actually manage to earn some cash.

There is a theme of surprising places here.  Places that look like nothing from the road can often turn out to be oases of calm green.  Then there are places, like International City, which look crazy from the road and are indeed crazy when you get to them.  I mention this particular place as it's on the way to the Desert Palm and we passed it again today.  It's a huge housing development with complexes named after countries.  I think it was someone's great idea for promoting international harmony, not that you really need to do that here as although the Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers complain about each other, everyone seems to rub along quite nicely together.

The advantage of living there is that the rents are pretty damned cheap compared to what you would pay living in the centre of town like we do.  However, it's a good 20-minute drive into town and that can quadruple during rush hour, and it has a distinct unfinished and may never be finished feel about it that characterises a lot of the newer parts of Dubai where the money from the bad debts didn't quite stretch to landscaping.  We did genuinely think about living there but apparently the traffic getting out to get into Dubai for work in the morning can be a nightmare.  We do know people who live there but they own a huge 4X4 and they simply drive over the sand to avoid the traffic.  That sound like bonkers driving but it's actually pretty conservative compared to some of the sheer lunacy that you see on the roads on an hourly basis. 

There are also some rather troubling rumours that the smell from the nearby sewage farm can be overpowering.  I have to say we've never noticed such a thing in the times that we've been there, but I think it's still enough to put many potential residents off.  The Dubai skyline of huge skyscrapers appearing out of the desert is pretty bonkers but in a way, seeing this enormous housing development by the side of the highway with mock period finishes on many of the buildings seems even crazier.  


  1. Maybe learn horse riding? You and Paul? Really? That I would love to see!

  2. No way, he thinks all horses are psychotic because one walked on him when he was a child. Nope, the restaurant and bar will be plenty to keep us entertained thank you very much.