Money, Money, Money, must be funny

Dubai is a bonkers world as far prices go. We joked before we arrived that Tim would spend two years saying ‘How much?’ in an incredulous Yorkshire accent but even one given to regular extravagance (me) can be taken aback by the cost of most things here.

This claim, you understand will require some detailed investigation at the many shopping malls and souks to substantiate, but on first impressions and with some notable exceptions, such as petrol, most goods and services are about 1.5 times more expensive here than in the UK.

The general rule of thumb on eating out, for example is to expect it to be expensive for what you have had and then a bit more on top. Of course wages for professionals are high too and there is the little matter of no tax so that’s simply how it is.

There is a ready market of customers in Dubai willing and able to pay whatever it costs to eat, drink and generally live in the style that their disposable income demands. Much of the leisure and social activity takes place in the top dollar luxury hotels across the city and why not?

‘Luxury’ is a meaningless adjective. ‘Fantasy’ is a better description. Order a drink at the beach bar at the The Royal Mirage  or watch the chefs as they prepare to welcome evening diners to The Palace  and the Arabian style opulence of the surroundings will soon have you adding a night or two here to your dream bucket list. The aforementioned Palace hotel is just across the road from our new apartment. Right now I am looking forward to being able to cook my own food in my own kitchen but The Palace is now on my special occasion list. It’s a winning formula that Dubai seems to crack over and over again – the more money and imagination you put into building a hotel, a shopping mall, or a landmark, the more people will want to come to spend even more money in it.

Residential rents are stratospheric, payable in advance for a year. To be able to negotiate at all, the whole amount is required up front, in a single payment. Instalments are possible but only in quarterly chunks and certainly not on a month in advance basis.

Taxis we were told are still reasonable. Well, yes, they are cheaper than black cabs in London but not so cheap you don’t notice the cash disappearing if you rely on them to get you to places in reasonable time, as we have during our first couple of weeks.

It was something of a surprise to find that licensed taxi drivers don’t really know their patch very well. One refused to take us where we needed to go because he didn’t know how to get there. Some will let the hapless passenger in the cab and then clock up large amounts on the meter by taking the wrong route or dump you some way away from your desired destination.  ‘Nearness’ is a not a very literal concept in Dubai. Saying something is ‘near to’ or even ‘next to’ can mean up to half a mile away.

We are in the process of arranging our own transport and when we do the Yorkshireman is in for a pleasant surprise. There is one item in Dubai that is a knock down giveaway, coming in at around 33 of your fine British pence per litre – petrol. Happy days.

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