Dubai Tour: Team Presentation
On a spectrum—1 being the TDU Team Presentation which presentation in spite of the didgeridoo dudes was lackluster times 1000, and 10 being the Giro d'Italia presentation which presentation was like a moon landing and a Super Bowl and a late '80s Michael Jackson concert and an Olympics that doesn't suck and a real Roman Gladiator event and a late '90s Havasu Spring Break all rolled in one—the Dubai Tour Team Presentation was a 7.9.
I AFTER THE TOUR DOWN UNDER, BEFORE THE TOUR OF DUBAI
- Purchased the latest issue of Monster Children from a newsagent in Byron Bay, New South Wales. Byron Bay is cool I guess if you like hot girls with tan thighs in short jean shorts, loose-fitting tank tops, expensive looking sunglasses and floppy felt hats like from the 70s, and who ride longboards causally & aimlessly around town for hours on end as though the local business association pays them to do so, because—and I’m just guessing here—they’re a performance art-type tourist attraction designed to complement/strategically augment the beach and the lighthouse and various other seaside whatnots in an effort to encourage tourism. And if you like dudes that can surf better than you.
- Speaking of the lighthouse, it’s on a hill which hill is the easternmost point in Australia.
- Rent a garage in a patch of jungle meters from the beach. Eat breakfast at the Top Spot, sunbathe, eat dinner at the Roadhouse. Stalk wallabies at dusk. Read George Saunders’s Braindead Megaphone principally for the short story about Dubai titled “The New Mecca.”
- Make a big mistake and leave Byron Bay for Noosa, Queensland, Australia.
- Hike four hours around Noosa National Park from Sunshine Beach, Devil’s Kitchen, Alexandria Bay, Hell’s Gates, Granite Bay, Dolphin Point, Tea Tree Bay, Boiling Pot to Laguna Bay, in broad daylight, in the sun, in a tank top.
- Side Note: Alexandria Bay is a nude beach even though the Noosa National Park Coastal Track passes right through the middle of it. Which, presumably, is why we saw a bloke in a crocodile skin Akubra and bright white off-brand trainers, period. Immediately after nodding hello in passing to the beforementioned bloke, I started to sing—true story!—Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds”.
- Suffer the single worst sunburn experience of my adult life since childhood.
- Find a six-to-seven-foot spotted python curled around the the railing on the porch near the front door of our vacation rental.
- Fly to Dubai on an Airbus A380. Though it’s shaped like a jet plane the Airbus A380 is a (secret) Government Space Station Beta Test Program, or GSBTP. If you look it up on the internet the internet will say something (it’s a cover) like: “The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by Airbus. It is the world’s largest passenger airliner; many airports have upgraded their facilities to accommodate the A380’s size.” And you might read first-person accounts (testimonials really) like this one for example: “Normally I hate flying so much that I have to take Xanax—it’s actually alprazolam but nobody knows what that is and it’s hard to pronounce. Anyway, sometimes I take one, sometimes I take two, it all depends on how terrified I am and how long the flight is. But the A380 has so much to offer its 525 passengers! We’re talking over 500 movies not counting TV shows and various other video entertainments, high speed wireless internet, unbridled/unlimited/unfettered use of your mobile phone and your mobile phone’s many features (in the sky!, during the flight!), personal seat-mounted electrical outlets that can accommodate every single variety of plug ever made regardless of country of origin, and woodgrain toilet seats. There is so much to do and so many ways to do it in an A380 that it’s mind-blowing/boggling. And but I kept falling asleep because I was high and it was an overnight flight. But I didn’t want to!, but I couldn’t help it! Towards the end of the 14+ hour long flight—there are a number of ways to track your flight’s progress, from maps available in eight different languages to various cameras mounted to the outside of the plane which cameras stream real-time, live video of the world below—when I knew we were getting close and it was really coming down to the wire, I found myself fighting to stay awake. To no avail! I slept through, aka wasted and squandered, so much entertainment, comfort and modern technologically literally built into my fully reclinable chair, it’s sickening to think about. It’s like staying in a fancy hotel in Vegas, say the Bellagio for example, and getting an upgrade to a penthouse suite for some reason you don’t understand but you don’t need to understand because it’s a penthouse suite and it’s a free upgrade and so who cares, and but you’re there alone and you don’t do coke and/or hookers but you do have to work the whole time, and at any rate you try over the course of the 48 hours that you’re there to use all of the flat screen TVs and jacuzzi’s in your suite’s many rooms and chambers but you simply don’t have the time, and so for years and years and years you regret being the wrong person in the right place, or being in the right place at the wrong time, or whatever.”
II TOP 10 THINGS NOT TO DO IN DUBAI
- Don’t carry or consume or consume drugs
- Avoid public displays of affection
- Don’t drink alcohol in non-designated areas
- Don’t dress inappropriately
- Don’t insult religion
- Don’t eat or drink during Ramadan
- Don’t disrespect women
- Don’t swear or use aggressive hand gestures
- Don’t insult the rulers
- Don’t allow your check to bounce
III A BRIEF LIST OF AMERICAN FRANCHISE RESTAURANTS IN THE THE DUBAI MALL, WHICH MALL FEATURES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, AN AQUARIUM, AN UNDERWATER ZOO AND AN ICE RINK
- TGI Fridays
- Cheesecake Factory
- Red Lobster
- Romano’s Macaroni Grill
- Outback Steakhouse
- P.F. Changs
- Noodle Factory
- Baja Fresh
- California Pizza Kitchen
- Caribou Coffee (located next to Payless Shoes)
- 2 Starbucks (one of which is located next to diptyque Paris)
- Bennigan’s—American Fare. Irish Hospitality.
IV Notes & Observations
- Dubai may be on the Moon or Neptune or similar, we landed at 5:45 in the morning so it was still dark and I fell asleep on the plane during the fight, so maybe after we took off we went to space, I don’t know. I can’t prove I’m on Earth since every natural feature for as far as the eye can see is a man-made natural feature. It’s flat, it’s hot, it’s hard to breathe. 87% of life on Dubai happens inside one massive building or another, in fact whole worlds exist inside buildings here; what happens outside on Earth, happens inside on Dubai. All the buildings, of which there are many, are glass and steel. Many of them are connected to each other through trams and tunnels and skywalks. Yes, there is a marginal amount of air and gravity outside but I can explain. Dubai is city built on the moon inside a Truman Show Bubble. And in that regard, as well as a few others, Dubai is a lot like Las Vegas minus the slot machines and public display of bad decision making, bad taste and bad drugs.
- Keiran and I meet Matt, Marlo, Will, Josh and Jerry, three Australians and two Scots (not Scotches!) respectively. Matt and his wife Marlo work for Adventure HQ in Dubai. More on these people later; bottom line, two days ago they were all strangers and now we’re all friends. They’re very nice. Very helpful. Very connected. Very kind. And very funny. And we met on the internet via Manual For Speed Dot Com.
- The city of Dubai is closing public schools on Thursday in an effort to reduce/eliminate traffic that would otherwise make rolling enclosures in the city seriously difficult and/or impossible.
- If it rains, the many marble intersections will be problematic.
- Every restaurant and place to eat in Dubai is over staffed with exceptionally nice and accommodating waiters, hosts, greeters, bussers, etc. Foods good too.
- Individual cars and traffic as a whole will run you over. Pedestrians have the right to get run over.
- Taxi cabs are profoundly cheap. A corollary to this is that taxi cab driver/operators are mean and nasty. A corollary to this is that they often they don’t know where they’re going, like even basic shit is hard to find, like the world’s tallest building which can be seen from Oman for example, will sometimes get you the Question Mark Face. Even if you call it the Burj Khalifa, which is its name. And point to the sky, which sky from just about any vantage in the entire Middle East, is pierced by it, and therefore visible.
- A couple spotted in the mall confuses me. She’s wearing all black, black purse, black full-face ninja-suit-style hijab, black gloves, you can’t see her face, nothing; he’s wearing all white with red and white headscarf. They are openly and publicly holding hands.
- I’m a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World is playing in the Reebok store.
- Across from the Burj Khalifa they’re building the Burj Vista apartments. They’re building a building specifically to face another more taller and majestic building—so that one can, from the comfort of their own living room in the lesser building, gaze upon the more impressive building.
- We are walking in the mall.11The world’s largest mall—by area—is also the world’s most visited shopping and leisure destination. Its 65,000,000 visitors in 2012 eclipsed New York City by over 13 million. Keiran is worried her skirt, which skirt is cut to just above her knees, is too short. She’s worried she’s giving dudes Knee Boners. She’s also worried that her bra straps are showing, like, illegally or whatever. Above all else, she’s worried that if the police attempt to arrest her I won’t attempt to prevent it because the story would be “too good.”
- They have so many different shapes/sizes/colors of scarves here. If Eskimos (Inuits, sorry) have a million words for snow and the British probably have a million words for sideways falling rain, then maybe they have a million words for scarf in Arabic? Note to Self: find someone who speaks Arabic because at the time of this note I’m surrounded by dudes speaking Bangladeshi and maybe Hindi.
- Dubai smells like cologne, air conditioning, raw sewage, plastic flowers and concrete dust.
- The day before the race, http://dubaitour.com/ crashes and I repeatedly get this error: “FORBIDDEN You don’t have permission to access / on this server.” For a split-second I’m convinced I’ve been “personally” blocked due to my browser history.
- Starbucks donuts, in Dubai, are square-shaped.
- #dubaiproblems, e.g., “In the bottom of my apartment building there are two luxury sport car dealers (McLaren and Mansory by Prestige Cars) and one a luxury Italian furniture showroom featuring brands such as Cassina, Poltrona Frau, and Capellini, but no place to buy milk and groceries.”
- Today’s Spontaneous Philosophical Moment/Quote While Travelling In The Arabian Peninsula is inspired by Kahlil Gibran: No layers of history, just layers of dust. Which dust is the result of all the in-progress skyscrapers going up in the neighborhood.
- If you’re an Emirate, minimum wage annually speaking is $100,000.00
- On a spectrum—1 being the TDU Team Presentation which presentation in spite of the didgeridoo dudes was lackluster times 1000, and 10 being the Giro d’Italia presentation which presentation was like a moon landing and a Super Bowl and a late ’80s Michael Jackson concert and an Olympics that doesn’t suck and a real Roman Gladiator event and a late ’90s Havasu Spring Break all rolled in one—the Dubai Tour Team Presentation was a 7.9; we’re talking a couple of Goddess Girls each strapped to a giant white bundle (seven zeppelin’s worth) of balloons, bona fide royalty, a better-than-the-Bellagio water show, articulating jumbo screens, an island in the middle of a park under the world’s tallest building and seven million batman lights, six or seven flight attendant looking women on stage with the professional athletes, and an opportunity to take the most colorful, most populated (ever), yearbook-style group photo.
- There was a notable (and WELCOME!!!!!!) absence of cow bells, clappers, kazoos, trumpets, horns and whistles at the presentation. Speaking of which, there was a notable and curious-but-maybe-not-that-curious lack of spectators at the Presentation. I mean, there were people in attendance, not a lot comparatively but a lot all the same, there just weren’t fans exactly, there were Emirate dudes, and staff, and the teams of course, and the vibe was really good, it just wasn’t a public-type scene.
- At the Team Presentation I am introduced to Team Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team’s team manager, Ricardo Martins. Ricardo says, whatever I need, whatever I want—like in terms of access to the team—on the bus, massage tables, in hotel rooms, all of it, just ask and he will make it so.
- At the Team Presentation I am also introduced to the president of the United Arab Emirates Cycling Federation, Mr. Osama Al Shafar. We talk about his sand cars, doing wheelies in his sand cars, and the fact that due to the fact that he likes to do 2km-long wheelies in sand cars he has to have aftermarket fuel pumps built into his sand cars. We also talk about Los Angeles—dude loves LA.We talk about Cal Poly, dude went to Cal Poly. We talk about the two Surly Fat Bikes he owns and loves to ride in the dunes. We talk about how trails work in the dunes and whether or not dunes change shape/size over time—apparently they don’t, or not really. We talk about his ideas for next year’s Dubai Tour, which are, frankly, radical when compared to this year’s Dubai Tour. And we talk about how he’s going to make his ideas public in seven days. We talk about the presentation’s theatrics, which were tight. Then he assures me that I’m going to enjoy my time in Dubai—I believe him. Then he excuses himself in order to run up on stage and take a group photo before they close the place.
V Team Presentation
VI A BRIEF TYPOLOGY OF VIEWS OF BURJ KHALIFA, THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD
VII THEY'RE JUST LIKE US! EMIRATI WOMEN
Out of respect to Muslim customs (and laws?!), this photo essay does not include photographs. Use your imagination. Due to the nature of this content, and in an effort to eliminate any and all possible misunderstandings, we feel compelled to attach an artist statement to this body of work: “It’s not our intention to be mean or hurtful or disrespectful, the point is simply, people are people, and people love doing people stuff regardless of local customs, attitudes, habits, etc.”