En route to Cityscape, nothing about Dubai is quite what this visitor expected
I am cringing as I stand in the queue for a taxi from the airport. Loud drilling is happening metres away, I'm inhaling dust and the heat is sweltering. It's a far cry from the paradise Dubai's promoters are always promising us. Where are the clean, cool buildings surrounded by gleaming turquoise water?
After half an hour in the queue from hell, I am finally in an air-conditioned cab. I can't wait to get to my hotel and chill out for an hour before hitting Cityscape. And I'm dropped off refreshingly quickly - so much for the traffic jams I've been warned about.
Or so I thought. After trudging around in the boiling heat in my woollen jacket, it becomes clear I've been dumped at the wrong place. Soon, I'm in another taxi and I'm stuck in the fabled Dubai gridlock.
The Burj Dubai, the tower that's going to be over 1km tall, really is a monster, awe-inspiring and, frankly, more than a little menacing
But there is an upside to the snail's pace procession into town - stunning views of the Burj Dubai, the tower under construction that's vying to be the world's tallest. It really is a monster, awe-inspiring and, frankly, more than a little menacing. Designed by architect SOM, it looms so much higher than all the skyscrapers surrounding it, and the jagged bits sticking out of its top add to its threatening air. For all that, it's a pleasing design, sleek, rounded and tapering at the top.
Next, we edge past Business Bay. I have been reading about this development for years, and the concept always conjures up bright, shiny new buildings and so on. The reality is starkly different. Business Bay looks like a war zone. It's awash with tower cranes, while dust-covered structures loom over the massive site with their innards on display like entrails on a battlefield.
The billboards surrounding it display some pleasantly familiar names, though: Atkins, Halcrow, Multiplex. Then an advert catches my eye. Bearing the image of a glamorous couple, it promises luxury penthouses “for the distinguished few”. This too seems a long way from the dusty reality.