Dalia my best friend from school days, is known for her love of extravagance.
So, when we were sitting one day counting how long we’ve been friends and realising that we’ve already reached 30 years, she decided that it was time to celebrate the occasion by planning a short trip to Dubai.
It coincided that Dubai’s Opera House had a Flamenco show by Diego El Cigala, a famous Spanish artist that I had never heard of and had to ask my Spanish friend about.
As we both are flamenco fans, the trip was set to attend his show on the first week of March. Dalia also booked us tickets for another show called La Perle, which she’d attended and enjoyed many times and insisted that I should watch too.
Flying to Dubai was a funny experience as there was an air turbulence that shook the plane the whole journey. It felt like a bus ride on an unpaved road. I was amazed to watch other passengers eat and drink blissfully, ignoring the violent shakes we were going through.
We reached the hotel which was very close to the Opera House and upon knowing the reason behind our trip, the nice receptionist decided to upgrade one of the rooms that - after Dalia’s insistence - became mine.
The minute I walked into the room I knew that it was bad news as it lacked my basic needs: an ironing board, a kettle, and a TV remote.
I called the room service asking for them but I was totally ignored. We had to rush as La Perle was starting soon and finding a taxi from the hotel proved to be a nightmare that we had to order an Uber, that costed Dalia a fortune.
The show felt like watching a Russian circus with amazing stunts in an aquatic theatre, that at times was annoying as water kept splashing at us from artificial rain scenes, which were dramatic in nature yet made us both laugh hard as I begged loudly for it to stop!
The first night at the hotel turned to be a nightmare for Dalia as the guests next room became active at 5 am. The kids started crying, the father was shouting and the mother became hysterical.
Dalia called the reception and complained about the ruckus and the reception promised to solve the issue right away. After a few minutes the next-door room became silent and just as Dalia was preparing to go back to sleep, the considerate guests sent one of their kids to scream right in front of her door!
The next morning, I called the reception for the third time to complain about the room, calling it a prison cell. This was enough for them to send the manager carrying a TV remote along with a maintenance worker as there was a leak in the bidet faucet, unnoticed by me.
That evening we headed to the Opera House which was another disappointment starting from the building that we mistook for a metro station. Inside, it looked like a long, narrow hotel lobby that led to the stage, which reminded of my university’s auditorium with balconies shaped like bath tubs. There were no dress code and people were allowed to carry inside all types of drinks in plastic cups. The stage lights kept moving backwards and forward, searing our corneas.
Nevertheless, Diego El Cigala songs were profoundly romantic and the music was joyful. As we left the hotel the next day, the manager begged us not to post a bad review on Booking.com, which was exactly what Dalia did with great pleasure!
Rasha al Raisi
The writer is a certified skills trainer and author of The World According to Bahja