UAE Day 1: Plane Ride And First Impressions

Here is the first of several posts about my trip to the United Arab Emirates. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? 🙂

The first day of my trip was basically all about travelling. First, we had to drive to Vienna Airport, which took us about four hours, and then we jumped on a plane for Dubai. The flight lasted about five to six hours, but to me it felt like it is never going to end. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE riding with airplanes – I’m even considering an option of working as a stewardess one day – but I’ve never been so bored on an airplane before. Yes, there were tons of movies to watch, but none of them was right up my alley. The first one I tried to watch was ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. I gave up on it after ten minutes, though, because it just didn’t make sense. Is it possible that some of the scenes were cut from the movie? Anyway, the second one, which I actually watched till the end, was ‘We Bought a Zoo’. The movie was alright, but a bit long-winded in my opinion – I fell asleep for a few minutes in between, oopsie! Thank god for some episodes of Friends that eventually saved me from complete boredom.

P.S. The plane food was delish! Does anyone else like plane food or am I the only weirdo out there?

Moving on to my first impressions of Dubai… I have to admit, I felt very uncomforable and almost scared when we arrived at the airport. I am usually not the one who is afraid of new things and new cultures, but I definitely experienced a bit of a cultural shock. Just imagine yourself all of the sudden surrounded by Arab men dressed in their traditional clothes and being treated like a second class human. Women and men had to stand in separate lines, women’s visas had ‘the wife of…’ or ‘the daughter of…’ written on them, I was told not to look Arab men in the eyes when I talk to them… Not the nicest feeling, huh? And what really made me panic is that an Arab man/airport employee pulled my sister, my mother and me out the line when we were waiting to get our eyes scanned. He wrote something on my mother’s and sister’s visas and told us that we are free to go without any explanation. We had no clue what was going on and I though I was going to be taken to a harem or something, haha. Hearing the stories of young blond women being ”kidnapped” by Arab men a few days before my departure definitely caused more harm than good to my imagination.

When we finally went through the customs and collected our luggage, it was time to go find the car that took us to the hotel. The journey thorugh the arrival hall was quite interesting if I may say so. All Arab men were staring at me like I am some sort of a celebrity and were turning their heads when I walked past them, which felt extremely weird, because I never get such attention from men…

I see that this post is getting way too long, so I’ll try to sum up the rest of the day really quickly. The hotel that we were staying at pleasantly surprised me. We were travelling with a travel agency this time and had no control over our accommodation, so I was a bit worried about it. We got the name of the hotel a few days before the departure and the negative reviews I had read on trip advisor weren’t promising. The hotel luckily turned out to be alright. The rooms were huge (you can check out the photos here) and even though there were a few annoying stuff that happened (not enough towels, broken security system in the first couple of days and dysfunctional electrical sockets), we enjoyed our stay.

Just to set the record straight, these were just my first impressions of the country. My opinion about the Arab culture changed drastically in the following days, and I felt completely safe, relaxed and welcomed while I was in the UAE.


  1. Miss Starshiny
    May 6, 2012 / 10:09 am

    I've never been to Asia (Instanbul where I've been is something between Europe/Asia).I liked this detailed post, I want to visit many different countries and religions.Those trips broaden your horizons!I want an abroad trip so much, you made me jealous!!!Waiting for the rest posts!xxxGood luck with your presantation tomorrow!Miss Starshiny

    • Sandra
      May 6, 2012 / 10:21 am

      Thank you! I totally agree with you. I believe that traveling is the best thing that can happen to anyone. Experiencing different cultures makes you grow as a person, broadens your horizons and provides you with knowledge that you cannot get in school. Plus, it's fun! 🙂

  2. Lucia Montes
    May 6, 2012 / 10:56 am

    wow, that's crazy!! first of all, I think Friends saved me from boredom a couple times on planes…do all airlines have their episodes? hahaha and I sometimes like plane food, even though I'm sometimes hesitant to try it. I can't wait to read more 🙂

  3. Jassyofalltrades
    May 6, 2012 / 11:34 am

    Did the menu call chips 'potato noodles'? thats weird Really good blog post :)Jasmine

    • Sandra
      May 6, 2012 / 11:46 am

      Nope, we didn't have chips. Those 'potato noodles' were similar to gnoochi. 🙂

  4. sleepandwater
    May 6, 2012 / 12:15 pm

    That does sound like quite a culture shock at the beginning. I guess it does take adjustment to see how another society functions, especially when it's so different to your own. That part about a man pulling you away from the line does sound quite scary if you didn't know what was happening. But I'm glad your experience after those initial impressions definitely improved and you felt welcomed for the rest of your trip 🙂

  5. Francesca.
    May 6, 2012 / 4:09 pm

    Oh, I'm so jealous you got to go to UAE, I've been wanting to go forever, you're so lucky! It's a shame you felt so uncomfortable initially, but I'm glad your experience improved xx

  6. Michelle Jiafang
    May 6, 2012 / 7:24 pm

    <3 great post!! I would love to visit UAE one day! 🙂

  7. monica
    May 7, 2012 / 12:17 am

    awwww UAE! i def want to go one day – cant wait to see more pics from your trip 🙂

  8. Adeola Naomi
    May 7, 2012 / 1:37 pm

    SO wonderfully detailed post!!!Two of my friends work for Dubai Emirates and I will very much love to visit UAE after graduations and glad you went to to trouble of stating everything!I am also a weirdo , cuz I love plane food,I once had a joint flight passing through Dubai Airport and I was stunned even though I didn't get to see much of it.Have a great week dear.xoxo

  9. Temporary:Secretary
    May 7, 2012 / 2:53 pm

    This is a really good post, such a refreshing change to blogposts i usually read. I look forward to reading more about your time away x

  10. Anne-Claire Poupon
    May 7, 2012 / 7:27 pm

    Yummy!!Wake me up for lunch ^^Take care 🙂

  11. Evani
    May 8, 2012 / 4:14 pm

    I love plane food too!! Maybe we're just weird 😉 That spread looks delish! Can't wait to read about the rest of the trip!Love,Evani

  12. Jayme and Mendi
    May 11, 2012 / 2:51 pm

    Can't wait to read more of your trip! This is so exciting!! Thanks for being honest too. I've wondered about the men/women type scenarios there before so you cleared it up in the airports. I feel like if someone tells me not to look men in the eyes then I'd really want to do that. 🙂 That would be hard for me.Jayme @ Her Late Night Cravings

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