Chris Skinner Blog | Dubai: cutting edge or bleeding edge? | Talkmarkets
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Chris Skinner is known as an independent commentator on the financial markets and fintech through his blog, the, as author of the bestselling book more

Dubai: cutting edge or bleeding edge?

Date: Friday, May 25, 2018 4:53 AM EDT

I travel a lot and go to several countries that have smart leadership and smart cities. These cities and countries – you know who you are – are in the forefront of innovation and claim to be visionary. So, I was surprised when I was planning a trip to one recently, Dubai, and found a number of anomalies.

The first was making a booking direct with a hotel and airline. After I made the booking, the hotel informed me that they were located inside the airport and were surprised I had booked two nights there. Aha! I didn’t realise they were inside the airport.

Me: Please cancel the booking.

Hotel: No sir, you did that through a third party.

Me: No, I didn’t. I booked it directly with you.

Hotel: No, you didn’t. Here are the third-party contact details. You need to cancel it with them.

Third party: We are your software provider. He booked it directly with you.

Hotel: Oh! We didn’t know that.

The above summarises two days of to and fro, but you get the idea. The airline experience was similar. I had booked a return flight with flydubai, a budget airline, and then realised the return was a bit late so I clicked the button to cancel it. Instead of getting the usual screen that asks if I really want to cancel, and this is how much will be returned to my credit card, flydubia’s site literally just cancelled it. I’m not used to that – most airlines come up with a second screen to confirm the cancellation – so I rang the airline and said I didn’t want to cancel. The airline said tough.

In this age of service, and in this age where my impressions of Dubai are high, I was disappointed to have this experience. But hey, even in the most visionary economies, things can go wrong (just checkout Uber in Singapore).

Anyways, I get to Dubai and another thing happened that shows how even a leading, visionary economy can stutter. I land at the airport and jump in a taxi, expecting him to go mental with me when I ask for a near airport hotel drop-off. In London, if you grab a taxi at Heathrow and ask them to go to a hotel within 5 miles of the airport, you’ll get short shrift and be told to go take a bus. Not in Dubai. The driver immediately took me to the hotel and accepted my credit card payment. Lovely.

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