So near but so far. The feeling that you would watch the world in the skies is overly exciting but when you miss it because you have to travel at night it becomes a total put off, writes Gumisiriza Mwesigye
Often when one travels via a place that he has always wanted to visit, there is a thought that he will see as much of it as the time allows.
On the road, it may be fleeting images as you zoom past, but by air, you will get a bird’s eye view and may be a few hours’ experience as you wait to connect to another flight.
For me, one of the places that I have had in mind is Dubai; that city almost everyone knows about but fewer can locate it to the United Arab Emirate (UAE)
If you asked me, I think it is a city of everyone’s dreams of… okay, maybe nearly everyone if you bothered to inquire from your circle of friends.
So, you imagine how elated I was when DXB (read Dubai International Airport) was where I would spend five hours - after a flight from EBB (Entebbe) - before connecting to a longer one of nine and half hours.
I had never been on such long flights before as the furthest I had been was to Johannesburg, which is about three hours connecting from Nairobi.
In fact, I had not been out of Africa apart from my fantasy trips to Paris, Vatican and Buenos Aires.
Dubai being my first touchdown out of Africa was indeed an answered prayer. I imagine looking at the Horn of Africa from the skies as I left home, the blue reflection of Gulf of Arden and Arabian Sea as I flew across to the brownish yellow sands of UAE as we approached DXB.
But in my excitement, I did not figure out that if we left EBB in the late afternoon, we would reach DXB at night.
And also that such big planes fly at altitudes above the clouds. So, my dreams of seeing the 829.8-metre Burj Khalifa - the world’s tallest structure - up close were shattered mid-air.
Thoughts of looking at the palm tree-shaped Palm Jumeirah—the world’s largest man-made island - from a vantage point was lost in the dark of the night.
Not forgetting the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab luxury hotel, where you will part with a wad of dollars to spend a night.
As fate would have it, I had the window seat to “my own movie” of being so near yet so far.
The five hours there were spent going through the processes: Security checks, refreshing for the next leg of the journey, and window-shopping at duty free shop.
As we took off, it was still dark, so my memory was the bright lights of Dubai dropping away as the Airbus soared for the clouds.
I promised myself to come back soon to enjoy the sights and sounds of this city for more than just a few hours at DXB. There is unfinished business because it was a case of a close hit and a wide miss.
Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. By the 1960s, Dubai’s economy was based on revenues from trade and, to a smaller extent, oil exploration concessions, but oil was not discovered until 1966. Oil revenue first started to flow in 1969. Dubai’s oil revenue helped accelerate the early development of the city, but its reserves are limited and production levels are low: today, less than five per cent of the emirate’s revenue comes from oil.