Postcards from Dubai I

My days have fallen into a similar and comfortable rhythm. I breakfast with my beloved before he heads off to the exhibition. I spend an hour or so reading all the freebie newspapers, including The Financial Times in the hotel lobby. My enthusiasm undiminished by the proliferation of bad news, I head for the gym to wear off last night’s dinner. A quick hour in the sunshine and then back to the laptop to write a blog entry for Velovoices. She’s a demanding new mistress and, with events coming thick and fast, it’s time-consuming just keeping up, let alone getting ahead. I’m trying to profit in my cycling-club free moments to bank a few blog entries.

Job done, I treat myself to a cup of coffee and a spot of people watching. Dubai’s a fascinating place. Over 85% of the residents hail from elsewhere and I like trying to guess where they’re from. As the various Arab gentlemen stroll around looking quite magnificent in their traditional robes, the kandura, I can tell from their headwear from whence they came.  The ladies are more difficult as most wear a slimming, black abaya, often beautifully decorated with embroidery or crystals.  Many also wear the face concealing niqab, so very handy if you’re having a “bad  hair” day or you’ve an outbreak of spots. However, it’s essential that you find time to do your eye make up so as to look alluringly enigmatic.

I then stroll back to meet my beloved. We discuss his day at the exhibition to the strains of the call to prayer as the sun sets, which I always find quite haunting. Dinner is mostly with clients or friends. We eschew the ubiquitous buffets on offer in many of the hotel restaurants, electing to head out on foot or by monorail to find something more traditional. I enjoy middle-eastern food, why come all this way to eat Italian?

My beloved and I have been visiting Dubai for the past ten years, largely on business trips, and have stayed at a number of different hotels. But, with the horrendous traffic jams, it makes sense to stay as close to the World Trade Centre as possible to ease his working day. I’m quite happy pottering about the area. On previous visits I’ve been into the desert, around the creek, walked along the beach, visited the mosque, watched Nadal play tennis and Tiger Woods play golf, window shopped in the malls, mosied around the gold and spice souks and wandered around the art galleries and traditional village. I can’t claim to have seen and done everything that Dubai has to offer but I’m slowly getting there. Here’s one of my favourite sights, the Burj Khalifa Fountains.

But don’t take my word for it, check out what else Dubai has on offer here:

Interactive map of Dubai

High rise cycling

Krystian Herba World Record Stair Climber

I’m in Dubai for the cycling. Yes, I do know the Tour of Qatar starts next week and, no,  I haven’t got my dates and dunes jumbled.  Extreme Polish cyclist Krystian Herba was in town to break records – Guinness Book of Records. Yesterday, to celebrate the second anniversary of the world’s  tallest hotel, he climbed 2,040 stairs on his bicycle in a new record time. The previous record of 2,008 steps was set four years ago by Zhang Jincheng,  Xavi Casas and Javier Zapata in the Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China.

The 30-year old Herba’s attempt was eagerly anticipated and he set off from the hotel lobby at 11am, after a countdown by hotel guests. He then took to the stairs  of the 72 floor hotel on his customised, Euros 5,000  saddles-less ROMET bike and – without setting so much as a toe to the ground – used his upper body to hoist himself and his bike up each flight of stairs.  Accompanied by his eight-strong support team – including his brother – he climbed 23 floors, took the lift back down  – still on his bike – and then climbed a further 68 making a total of 91 flights. He had hoped to achieve this feat in around 1 1/2 hours but he completed the mind-bogglingly strenuous task in 1:13:41!

As soon as he’d achieved his target, Herba somersaulted over his handlebars and landed on his feet to give a dramatic flourish to his amazing achievement and wow the waiting crowd of more than 50 people. He put his strength down to the fact that the hotel restaurant served excellent steak which he’d been eating regularly to build up his strength ahead of his attempt. The hotel’s management were equally delighted with the historical attempt which has garnered many column inches of publicity for the hotel. Adam Krzymowski, the Polish Ambassador to the UAE said

“It is very important for me and the Polish community. I drove all the way from Abu Dhabi just to watch and congratulate him on his efforts.”

After completing the challenge, Krystian Herba said:

“What I just accomplished was a defining triumph in my career and I cannot express how happy I am to be able to get the new world record at Rose Rayhaan by Rotana, the tallest hotel in the world. This is indeed a dream come true for me!”

Herba who’s been riding for 18 years, started stair climbing in 2009 and this is his seventh tower climbing adventure. The others took place in Europe and he’d previously only managed 1,212 steps. So this challenge was a big step up. He’s apparently in talks with both representatives from CN Tower in Toronto and Taiwan’s Taipei 101. But Herba’s set his sights on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building which is also in Dubai.