Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Back in Dubai

I'm back in Dubai for a couple of weeks.

Left Oz in perfect winter weather - sunny, cloudless and daytime 20C - and arrived in Dubai's worst summer weather. Daytime high forties celcius, nightime down to mid thirties, high humidity and, the worst part, strong winds whipping up the dust and sand.

It's also Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, so eating and drinking in public during daylight hours is banned.

There are a few cafes open, screened off from public view, with a special exemption licence from Dubai Municipality.  Thankfully I can get my morning caffeine hit at Dome in Madinat Jumeirah.  Dome is an Aussie franchise and my usual morning coffee shop.

Following a world-wide trend my morning broadsheet paper, Gulf News, has gone tabloid since I was last here. Berliner size in fact. For someone who's read broadsheets all his life it's a disaster, I hate it. Sydney Morning Herald has announced that it too will go Berliner soon, so I'll just have to adjust.

There's a 'trial' of an Express Path for Immigration at Sydney airport. Emirates gave me a pass to use it and it's another of those 'initiatives' that had me shaking my head because it ignores the bleedin' obvious and doesn't need a trial.

The problem at most airports is unmanned desks and long queues at the few which are manned.

Sydney's 'Express Path' is simply an additional section of Immigration desks, absolutely identical to the non-express section.

I would have thought it was blindingly obvious that if you open more desks you clear people through faster. You don't need to have an 'express' section, just more manned desks.

And if you do have a section for a limited number of selected travellers it won't have queues, so it will inevitably be 'express'. You don't need a trial to establish that.

Naturally there were no queues so I sailed straight through.

Then at Dubai airport the e-Gate was playing up as usual, randomly letting some cardholders through but refusing entry to others. Including me.

After five tries I gave up and went to the officer on the desk to be stamped through.

I've had the same problem arriving at Sydney. Scan my biometric passport, look at the camera and...refused entry. Go to the desk to be manually stamped through.

Still, at both airports it's a lot quicker even done manually than queuing in the general section.

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