Review: Emirates First Class 777 Colombo To Dubai

Filed Under: Emirates

Emirates 651
Colombo (CMB) – Dubai (DXB)
Sunday, January 7
Depart: 9:55AM
Arrive: 1:00PM
Duration: 4hr35min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2A (First Class)

It has been a while since I’ve flown Emirates first class, though the second I boarded I had the biggest smile on my face. At the forward door I was welcomed by Draginja, the Serbian flight attendant who would be taking care of me.

Unlike the A380, Emirates’ 777s don’t have onboard showers or a bar, but they do have a more intimate and spacious first class cabin. First class consists of a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Emirates 777 first class cabin

As a point of comparison, the A380 has 14 first class seats. The reason the cabin feels more spacious is because the 777 has a wider cabin than the upper deck of the A380, so not only is the cabin a bit wider, but the ceiling is also higher.

Emirates 777 first class cabin

If you’re traveling with someone then you can select the pairs of center seats, which have an adjustable wall that can be raised in the event you’re traveling alone (or get sick of the person you’re with).

Emirates 777 first class seats

Emirates 777 first class seats

I had assigned myself seat 2A, the window seat on the left side in second row.

Emirates 777 first class suite

When I look at the Emirates first class cabin in pictures I always think to myself how gaudy and tacky it looks. But in person, and in moderation, I just love it. I like when airlines reflect their homes, and lets be honest, Dubai is a bit gaudy and tacky.

Emirates 777 first class suite

The Emirates first class seat is well padded and easy to adjust.

Emirates 777 first class suite

You’ve gotta love the massive personal television, the two lamps, the vanity mirror, and the writing and toiletry kits, as well. For what it’s worth, all carry-ons need to be stored underneath the television, as the first class cabin doesn’t have any overhead bins.

Emirates 777 first class suite

Then there’s the minibar, which can be raised and lowered by the push of a button.

Emirates first class minibar

There’s also a small monitor to the side of the seat that’s about the size of an iPad, where you can select your entertainment of choice, and control all of the seat’s features. Furthermore, if you’re watching something on the main screen you can use this as a supplementary screen to keep an eye on the airshow.

Emirates first class suite monitor

In addition to the main monitor, you can control basic seat settings from the aisle-side armrest.

Emirates first class suite controls

The tray table folds out from the side console by the minibar, and is a single big, sturdy table.

Emirates first class suite tray table

The 110v and USB outlet is on the console in front, to the left.

Emirates first class suite power outlet

Waiting at my seat on boarding were the standard pillow and a light blanket. This is probably a good time to mention that for Emirates first class, 4hr40min is the cutoff for whether a flight is considered short-haul or longhaul. This flight was blocked at 4hr35min, meaning it features a less extensive menu, doesn’t have dine on demand, French press coffee, a personal breadbasket, or a personal snack basket, just to name a few of the things that are missing. If it had been blocked just five minutes longer it would have had a lot of extra amenities. I know, true first world problems!

Emirates first class pillow & blanket

Also waiting at my seat were headphones. They’re alright quality. While they look on-brand for Emirates, I feel like they could be higher quality. I’m always surprised that Emirates doesn’t have Bose headphones (or the like) in first class.

Emirates first class headphones

A couple of minutes after settling in, Draginja offered to familiarize me with the suite, and asked what I’d like to drink. I asked for champagne, and was offered 2009 Dom Perignon. The last time I flew Emirates they had 2006 Dom Perignon. The 2009 is still great, though personally I preferred the 2005 and 2006 vintages.

Emirates first class suite with Dom Perignon

If you want to maximize your likes on Instagram or Facebook, the below is the picture to go with. 😉

Emirates first class suite with Dom Perignon

I was offered a refill of champagne as my glass started to get empty, and of course I accepted.

A few minutes later, Simon, the purser from Kenya, welcomed me onboard with a big smile and presented me with the menu and wine list for the flight, which were in a brown leather folder.

Emirates first class menu

Every seat on the plane was taken, including in first class. Taking up the four center seats was a French family, and best I could tell the other three passengers were Emirati.

A few minutes before the door closed the crew came around offering Arabic coffee and dates.

Emirates first class Arabic coffee & date

They also distributed warm towels.

Emirates first class warm towel

At 10AM the main cabin door closed, at which point the French captain added his welcome onboard, and informed us of our flight time of 4hr10min to Dubai.

Pushing back Colombo Airport

At 10:05AM we began our pushback, and then started our quick 10 minute taxi to the runway.

Pushing back Colombo Airport

The ramp was quite busy, with some good plane spotting.

AirAsia A320 Colombo Airport

Qatar Airways 777 Colombo airport

SriLankan A330 Colombo airport

By 10:15AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 4.

Holding short of the runway Colombo Airport

Taking off Colombo Airport

View after takeoff from Colombo

View after takeoff from Colombo

As we climbed out, Simon announced over the PA that the crew was from 12 countries and spoke 14 languages. I love how international Emirates crews are. In many ways that reflects the aspect of Dubai that I love — you have people from everywhere in the world, more so than just about anywhere I’ve been.

The seatbelt sign was turned off five minutes after takeoff, at which point I closed the doors to my suite, which can be done with the push of a button.

Emirates first class suite door

Emirates first class suite door

I also checked out one of the two lavatories, located at the front of the cabin. They’re on the small size, though have a decent number of amenities and also BVLGARI perfume.

Emirates first class lavatory

Emirates first class lavatory amenities

Emirates first class lavatory amenities

Once back at my seat, Simon asked what I’d like to have for lunch. As mentioned above, Emirates doesn’t technically offer dine on demand on these shorter flights, though I imagine if you asked to eat later in the flight they’d accommodate you. The lunch menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

I started with some more champagne. No one else in the cabin was drinking, and I hate seeing stuff go to waste, so I figured it was my duty to finish as much of the bottle as I could. The champagne was served with both spicy cashews and warm mixed nuts. I love the speed at which Emirates gets started with service. I had my first glass of champagne just 10 minutes after takeoff.

Emirates first class champagne & nuts

About 10 minutes later a tablecloth was placed on my tray.

Emirates first class tablecloth

Then I was served the soup and salad, as well as a selection of bread from the breadbasket. First I had a sweet potato and celeriac soup with croutons and a side salad.

Emirates first class lunch — salad and soup

The soup was flavorful and the perfect temperature.

Emirates first class soup

The salad, on the other hand, was quite boring.

Emirates first class salad

There were plenty of bread options in the basket from which to choose. The garlic bread is always my favorite.

Emirates first class bread

Next up was the main course, for which I selected the spicy Sri Lankan fish curry, served with yellow rice and aubergine pickle. It was fantastic, and bursting with flavor.

Emirates first class main course

Next up was dessert. I had the bibikkan, which was the Sri Lankan coconut cake. This was the weakest part of the meal, in my opinion. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t taste especially fresh, and was sort of dry.

Emirates first class dessert

Service throughout the meal was exceptional from both Draginja and Simon. The entire meal was done about 80 minutes after takeoff, and they paced it perfectly. After that I browsed the inflight entertainment selection. Emirates has live news updates from Reuters, meaning that you can’t even escape this stuff when you’re on a plane anymore:


Emirates has the world’s best inflight entertainment selection, with hundreds of movies, TV shows, etc. The selection is endless.

Emirates first class entertainment

Emirates first class entertainment

Emirates first class entertainment

I decided to work a bit rather than watching TV, so I just kept the airshow on.

Airshow enroute to Dubai

Airshow enroute to Dubai

Most of Emirates’ 777s have Wi-Fi, and as of last summer they increased the Wi-Fi pricing. However, I still consider the pricing to be pretty reasonable. For example, you can buy 500MB for $15.99. Skywards members in first & business class are supposed to get free Wi-Fi, but you have to have your Skywards number on the reservation to get that. Since I was crediting to Alaska Mileage Plan, that wasn’t an option for me.

One thing impressed me was that the Wi-Fi was actually usable. In the past I’ve found it to be borderline unusable on the A380. I’m not sure if the better speeds were because of the 777 vs. the A380, or because Emirates eliminated nearly free Wi-Fi for most passengers.

I spent a bit of time working, and then about an hour before landing I ordered a coffee, which was served with some biscotti and chocolate.

Emirates first class coffee and cookies

At 12:15PM in Dubai there was an announcement from the first officer that we’d be landing in about 45 minutes. A few minutes later we entered a holding pattern. At that point the crew started preparing the cabin for arrival, and a landing video was played describing the Dubai Airport arrivals process. The crew also distributed fast track cards at this point.

Dubai fast track card

View approaching Dubai

Airshow approaching Dubai

View approaching Dubai

View approaching Dubai

We ended up touching down on runway 30L at 12:50PM, earlier than expected.

Final approach to Dubai

Taxiing Dubai Airport

From there we had just a short five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked next to another 777-300ER.

Emirates 777 Dubai Airport

I bid farewell to the crew and began my longest ever walk to immigration at Dubai Airport. There was about a 10 minute wait in the fast track line. Then I headed to the Emirates chauffeur desk. While I wasn’t able to book a chauffeur through Emirates’ website, they gladly offered me one to my hotel after asking.

Chauffeur drive Dubai Airport

Emirates 777 first class bottom line

Emirates continues to offer one of my favorite first class products in the world. Even though this was a short-haul flight without all the amenities you’d get on a longhaul flight, it was still excellent. The crew was friendly, I love the Emirates first class suite, the entertainment was endless, the Wi-Fi was actually quite fast, and of course I loved the Dom Perignon. Emirates, you’re a great way to fly!

  1. I would have been disappointed by the meal selection, in particular the main course. I think I had all the dishes, perhaps except the lamb shank, in Economy before …

  2. “The Dubai you love” is a fabricated Disney version that only exists for people in a certain income bracket. At what point do you have a responsibility to address those issues and actually take a stand?

    The abuse of foreign workers documented by Human Rights Watch and several other international NGO’s, their views on homosexuality, their treatment of raped foreign women, the sex trafficking, the lack of a free press , the multiple reports of Emirates treatment of their employees……… At what point are you complicit? How much evidence does one need before taking a stand or at least looking closely at their views?

  3. Fined for being drunk when I was raped says:
    January 20, 2018 at 2:22 pm
    “The Dubai you love” is a fabricated Disney version that only exists for people in a certain income bracket. At what point do you have a responsibility to address those issues and actually take a stand?

    Point taken. All these countries are basically slave-states and Dubai a playground for oil money. I am also reminded, looking at the landing photos, that none of these Middle Eastern “cities” would even be possible without technologies invented and/or sourced in the West.

    Pass. Plus, this plane looks like a Donald Drumpf wet dream.

  4. yo Ben, kinda random, but I was wondering, have you encountered any Americans working on Emirates (as part of the crew?

  5. Dubai a playground for oil money. >>> there is no oil money in Dubai… the oil money is mostly in Abu Dhabi and big money in general is in Abu Dhabi.

  6. Lucky, If you want to write knowledgeably about French sparkling wines, please note that the ‘C’ in Champagne is always capitalized, because like Bordeaux and Burgundy, Champagne is a place name as well as a wine.

  7. Wait, so if I book an EK award ticket that’s not gonna get any miles, would it be smart to put in a skywards FF number for free wi-fi?

    Also I agree with the others regarding the state of the UAE (and all Islamic Sharia countries) and their backwards culture and laws regarding women (and men) who are raped, and homosexual acts. If a police official found out you and Ford were being “intimate,” things would not end well for the both of you. Your Disneyland facade fantasy would probably come crashing down into a nightmare.

    And you’re both wealthy tourists staying in posh hotels. Think about the people there who have to work, or those who are not rich tourists, and the abuse they have to put up with.

    “All sexual relations outside a heterosexual marriage is a crime. Punishments range from jail time, fines, deportation to death.”

    “In 2008, two lesbian tourists were given a one-month jail sentence and then deported for engaging in public displays of affection while visiting a beach. The trial, reportedly the first of its kind, prompted the police to create a special task force to combat homosexuality and other “indecent acts” from taking place on the beaches.”

    You had one of your writers outraged in a post because his hotel stay featured a lamenated prayer card on the pillow about Jesus Christ.

    But reciting the Muslim prayer before take off, and potentially throwing gays off buildings if caught doing homosexual acts are like Disneyland? Sorry, but hypocrisy is hypocrisy.

  8. You actually got lucky. Often, when EK has very little bookings CMB-DXB in F, they don’t bother to provide a First Class menu at all.

  9. I like to play, “Guess what Lucky will order” and I lost the bet when you didn’t order the Arabic mezze plate to start! What’s the deal?? (But I won with the fish curry and dessert, lol.)

  10. Should we take bets? The Chauffeur will drop our Lucky at the nearest Starwood brand?
    I guess not the Four Seasons, Raffles, Bulgari, or either Ritz Carlton.

  11. @Wp Etihad definitely recites the prayer before the safety video while taxiing for take-off, and EK did do this, unless there was a recent change. QR (probably the worst offender) also recites the prayer before take off. The double standards that I’ve seen on this blog are disappointing to me.

    A blogger gets upset by a laminated card in his small hotel room in Texas that talked about Jesus that he can choose to look at, or discard. But flying luxury first class, many times while being served by flight attendants that have zero rights and are treated like slaves, (especially on QR) and staying in gaudy hotel rooms in countries that oppress women, gays, and “non-believers” is the Dubai that he loves. Ben has not seen the real Dubai. He has seen the one that the government wants the tourists to see as being “modern.” Next time he’s there, I’d like him to kiss Ford on the beach openly and see if he still loves the UAE after they are both sentenced by a Sharia court and receive 80 lashes.

    “The Dubai I love” is nothing but a total fantasy that looks down upon women, criminalizes homosexuals, and kills apostates. So if bloggers are gonna complain about laminated cards, it would be nice that they stay consistent.

  12. @Abe,

    I have been living in Dubai for 4 years now and fly Emirates all the time. I have never heard the prayer played. I would have noticed. Unless you live here and have experienced what you say, just knock it off.


  13. @Lucky

    As to the free Wi-Fi, I understand that you can get it as long as you give them your Emirates number right before the flight and also it would be helpful to manage the reservation with your Emirates number, while still crediting the miles to AS. This is not perfect though and could lead to a mistake in which your miles are not credited to AS. I tried to get the free Wi-Fi on one set of flights and it did not work. and then complained about that. The last trip, I did get the free Wi-Fi and the App clearly said that my miles were going to AS. Waiting for it to be credited.

  14. Yeah, Dubai doesn’t have that much oil any more, but who needs oil when you have money laundering and Abu Dhabi propping you up (there is a reason why it’s called Burj Khalifa, and not, say, Burj Dubai, the original intended name)?

    “Of course they could try to buy a wedding cake in Colorado instead.”

    But they wouldn’t be arrested for making out in Colorado, would they?

  15. @ Nevsky — Very interesting. Personally probably not worth the risk for me given what a pain it would be if miles didn’t post correctly, but good to know. Thank you!

  16. @ Abe — Since I’ve been flying Emirates (2012) they haven’t been reciting any prayers at any point in the flight.

    And while you’re calling me a hypocrite for flying Emirates, I have a (perhaps) bold question. You just commented about how you’re flying Emirates soon, and based on comments you’ve left in the past, how can you in good conscience fly them when the UAE doesn’t recognize Israel as a state? Seems pretty ironic for you to claim someone else here has a double standard.

    For the record, I have a lot of ethical and moral issues with the UAE. There are many (very obvious) things I don’t like. I don’t like the slavery among imported workers who build the city. I don’t like some of their human rights policies. At the same time, I also recognize Dubai as an incredibly cosmopolitan city that’s a land of opportunity for so many people. Of course I *hate* how they treat construction workers, etc., but for many other people, living in the UAE is an opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families.

  17. @ Mark — Are there bets needed when the post has a table of contents at the top of the post? C’mon, you can be more original than that…

  18. @ Katy — LOL, love it! You know me well. I find the mezzes on Gulf carriers to be excellent but consistent, so I figured I’d mix things up for once. I certainly get your confusion!

  19. @ DC_Nomad — I have, actually. There are a good number of American pilots at Emirates, though even some cabin crew. Not *that* many, but over the years I’ve encountered maybe a handful of them.

  20. @ Abe

    Perhaps it would be more productive looking at the beam in your own country’s eye rather than seeking to judge the mote in another’s? I think Lucky makes some strong points.

    All human societies are made by humans and are therefore inevitably imperfect. Some are, from my perspective, more imperfect than others. I grew up in a country where equal rights for LGBT people are now stronger than pretty much anywhere else in the world. But it’s not that long ago that the same country decided the war hero and computer pioneer-genius Alan Turing should be chemically castrated simply because he was gay.

    For the first century of its existence the USA was unashamedly a slave state. For the second century it was a vicious apartheid state. It’s only in the last half century that the USA has slowly edged towards being a civil rights state. Should the rest of the world have boycotted everything American over the last quarter millennium? Should we all be judging the USA so harshly?

    Interestingly, the data seems to show China and Saudi Arabia execute more people than most other countries. There is a vast economy in one and vast oil supplies from the other: strangely, people seem to call for a boycott of Qatar but ignore the other two. Mysterious. Unless you’re employed by the US3 to attack the ME3, of course.

  21. @ Steve s. — Yep, I think all or at least most of them do. If the seatmap shows 1-2-1, this is the product.

  22. @Lucky- Let’s take a step back here for a minute. I never personally called you a hypocrite. I’m sorry if you interpreted it that way. I do not think you are a hypocrite. What I did call out and criticize were hypocritical posts which I took issue with. I specifically referred to a blog post, where (I think the author was Nick, but I wasn’t sure so I didn’t name names) a blogger was up in arms about a laminated Christian prayer card that talked about Jesus on his hotel pillow. But I’ve never heard any of the bloggers on here criticize the UAE, or Qatar which is much worse for their penal codes against homosexuality, Sharia courts that discriminate against women, and many times turn rape victims both men and women, into suspects and jail them or lash them. I’m sorry but to me that’s extremely hypocritical to be angry about some silly prayer card, but be mute on the topic of gays being lashed or thrown off buildings. If a blogger on here can devote a good amount of time criticizing a Christian prayer card, then they can certainly devote some time in a blog post criticizing human rights abuses. If it was up to me, religion and politics would stay out of this site. I think it should only be about travel. But it was the blogger who opened the Pandora’s box on that when he wanted to talk about a Jesus laminated prayer card. If I remember correctly, the article even went so far as to say the hotel management’s religious beliefs were being “foisted” onto him, and he didn’t like that in his hotel room. Well I don’t like gays being lashed, thrown off buildings, or women stoned to death for being raped.

    That’s right the UAE does not recognize Israel, and based on my past postings, in which you’ve apparently taken note of, I do defend Israel’s right to exist, and speak out against the terror organizations who control the Palestinian people, and use them as pawns on the world stage. If I do fly which you’ve pointed out it’s EY or EK, I will never fly QR. Qatar is definitely the worst offender of the three regarding human rights abuse, and abuse towards their staff. If I do fly EK or EY, it is always exclusively on award tickets so that I can take money away from either of those airlines that’s sponsored by a government whose a serial human rights abuser. They never see a red cent of mine in profit. When I get on board I unload the entire mini-bar, writing kit, vanity kit, amenity kit, pajamas, slippers, and anything else I can take home with me from them that will cost Emirates money, and put it in the beach bags they hand out in First Class. I want to cost the airline money that is sponsored by a state that is oppressive to homosexuals and women.

    Again, and I’m not calling you a hypocrite, you can spend your money how you like. But I will point out differences between our travel behaviors since you brought it up. You actively pay Emirates (which you’ve told us) for F tickets that are in the thousands of dollars, and Qatar Airways (The worst country of the ME3). I will never do that. I have also never stayed, and will never stay overnight in DXB, AUH, or DOH in expensive luxury hotels, which support their economies, thereby supporting these oppressive regimes. I cannot in good conscious support an economy of a country who discriminates against anyone.

    Ben, I’m not calling you a hypocrite by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know you personally, and I very much highly doubt you’re a bad person. I’m also a big fan of yours. Therefore I sincerely apologize if you took my comments personal, they were not intended to be. I was talking about the blog, and the blog’s posts which are hypocritical in my example I brought up. If the blog posts want to discuss politics and religion, then they ought to point out the obvious by the ME3 carriers, and not a few words in the comments section. That is what is hypocritical.

  23. @ Abe

    “I cannot in good conscious support an economy of a country who discriminates against anyone.”

    Utterly ludicrous. The fact that you are using computer technology to access the internet suggests that you are using hardware and energy which is pretty much guaranteed to come from countries which discriminate as much as anyone against certain groups.

    The hypocrisy really is your’s rather than Lucky’s or Nick’s.

    Incidentally, I always think I should be in the forefront of criticisms of my own country; I think I am entitled to hold it to a higher standard than others. I’m guessing Nick’s objection to the religious object left in his hotel room was along the same lines (FWIW I deeply resent people leaving Bibles in hotel bedrooms in my own country on the assumption, I guess, that either I am part of that religion or I really should be. My religion, like the state of my spirit or conscience, is my business, not a hotel’s).

    Fascinating that all you can see is excuses for your own country, whilst heaping as much blame on (some, selectively) others as you can.

  24. OMG…..For those criticizing Lucky and bringing up all these civil rights/moral issues:

    NO country is perfect, no society is free from blame. They all have a bloody past. Some countries have evolved, others are still stuck in negative practice.

    If we were to “stand up”against every single little thing that bothers us, we wouldnt be able to step out the door or go anywhere. The USA has as much blood in their hands as the UAE or any other megapower country who is what they are today because of evil practices, whether it’d be corruption, slavery, or whatever else.

    So step off your high horse and enjoy life, you only got one short time here on this earth, enjoy it, travel, learn as much as you can from different cultures, and be kind to one another.

  25. @Abe – I promised myself that I would not read this blog again after I was verbally abused and the founder allowed it to happen.

    Then, in a moment of weakness, I clicked on here again and read this report (which you have commented on).

    I’m grateful I did. Your comments are completely accurate and it’s great to see someone standing by their views and voicing them so perfectly.

    Safe and happy travels.

  26. @Abe
    The islamic prayer at the start of an Etihad flight is a travel prayer. It’s meant to offer safe passage to people who are about to travel. I think that’s a nice thing and it doesn’t offend me as a gay jew who has lived in Abu Dhabi.

    Have you been to any of these places in real life? Have you seen how it is to live there and work there? I have, and can tell you that in Abu Dhabi and the UAE they are NOT throwing people off buildings – that’s a fabrication. In general, I found AUH to be a very easygoing place and by far the most culturally diverse place I’ve ever lived or worked, with a pretty much live and let live philosophy. Sure, I couldn’t or wouldn’t walk down the beach and engaged in a pda with my partner/ husband (and many people there, both westerners and the locals I knew and worked with, were engaged in same sex relationships), but I personally wouldn’t do that in the west either. Also, going in, I was aware of their PDA rules (which applies to everybody, not just gay people), so I wouldn’t expect them to waive them for me just because I’m a westerner. I feel sorry for the lesbian couple from 2008, but they knew the rules, so what did they expect?

    I thought there were a lot of great things to living and working there. It was a good experience for me and my partner, we made many friends, and I do think that by living there and working with people, by interacting with locals and being friends with them, by showing them who we are, that things like that and interactions like that are what changes minds and what leads to improvements for all. Just my experience. What was yours there?

  27. Nothing is funnier and saddening than stupids arguing over whose imaginary sky god is better. Next time you encounter a flight prayer imagine that it’s said to L Ron Hubbard. Next time you see a jesus card or bible, remember all the evangelical christianists that root for a guy who had extramarital sex, with a porn star, using no protection, cheating on an almost-newlywed pregnant wife.

    There’s a straight line from scientology to mormonism to islam to christianity to judaism. All precipitated by con artists to separate stupids from their money (it works!). Everything one knows about their own religion is just listening to someone’s made-up story, whether the story was made-up recently or long ago.

  28. For all those apologists and people trying to excuse the behavior of these Sharia countries, I don’t care what your positive personal experience is. Or how YOU’VE managed to make such a great life for yourself there (I noticed nobody mentioned living in Qatar) despite the backwards laws that are enforced.

    You’re positive experiences do not speak for everyone, and the terrible things that happen to other people. Things are different for many people who come from a variety of socia-economic backgrounds who are forced to live and work in these countries.

    The fact still remains that these laws are enforced, and these countries are backward. After a French-Swiss boy was saved from a child prostitution ring in Dubai, they began criminal charges against him and this is what Dubai authorities said “This is a conservative society. Homosexuality, conducted homosexuality is an illegal act. And we are not ashamed of that.” Comforting words for a child kidnapped and forced to be raped.

    Someone mentioned no society today is free from shameful deeds. Yes that’s true, but no society TODAY still lives and enforces laws from the 9th Century. If Christian Crusaders were going around killing people TODAY, I would be speaking out against that instead. Most, if not all societies have evolved. These backwards societies have not. About the prayer on Etihad, yes and if AA played a Christian prayer, can you imagine the outrage? They got upset by a laminated prayer card. Just imagine what kind of outrage there would be about a prayer on board the plane.

    Let me set the record straight: I like this blog. I’m not trying to pick a fight with Lucky. But can the posts by different people just stay consistent?

  29. @ Abe

    I think you’re being asked to stay consistent.

    Where are your grand principles about not spending your money to support oppressive states when it comes to technology and internet use? Your principles seem remarkably flexible. In fact, they only seem to operate when you are not inconvenienced at all – only when other people do something you don’t like.

    It’s good to have a code to live your life by. But we do often get into trouble when we angrily insist that only our own code is what everyone else should live by.

    You cite specific examples from some ME countries which seem appalling. I’m sure they are. Have you tried looking at your own country, too, through other people’s eyes? Where’s your condemnation of the things that are wrong in your polity? Where are your angry demands for a boycott?

    I know this site is more about the actual means of travel, but travel is after all supposed to broaden your mind. We visit places precisely to experience The Other. We can only do that if we have open minds rather than judgemental ones.

  30. @Paul

    You keep referring to “my own country?” What are you talking about? How would you know what my country?

    Secondly, Nobody can with a straight face, tell me that these laws of the M3 books that discriminate against women, religious minorities, homosexuals, and apostates are fine and just a “different culture.” that we should embrace.

  31. @ Abe

    I don’t know what “your own country” is, just that you never mention it – while I know you are not from Qatar, yet seem obsessed with slagging it off.

    You seem happy with Christian religious prayers left lying around, yet never seem to take account of one of Jesus’ major doctrines: that you should not judge others, lest ye be judged. Funny how many people just pick and choose what to be outraged over – normally what other people have done, never what they themselves have done wrong.

    Just sayin’.

  32. So I guess all those Pan Am training tapes to help train F/A’s and Pursers has left its mark. The Spirit of Pan Am lives on. Along with the knack that the Emiratis could afford to chose all these great amenities as well.

  33. @Abe- pretty simple re your comment on AA/ an imagined Christian prayer. Etihad is the national airline of a country, owned by the government, of a country where Islam is the national religion. The prayer offers a wish for safety in traveling, which is a message of peace, found in the Koran. Doesn’t bother me in the least, as it’s wishing me and all others safety and well being, which I view as a positive thing. The US has no national religion, and AA isn’t a national airline owned by the government. Different thing. Have you spent any time in any of these countries? Or are you just basing all your opinions off a few news reports that tend to exaggerate things? Spending time and actually getting to know a place and its people is far more effective on getting things done than relying on news reports that often have their own agendas. Form your own opinions through your own experiences, not the lenses of others

  34. “that you should not judge others, lest ye be judged.”

    That’s right, and I’m judging countries based on their laws that discriminate. I’m saying that this is wrong.

  35. @Abe
    Things change over time. The US for a long time had many laws on the books that were outright discriminatory and many have changed. Guess how things change? By human interactions and exposure to new ideas and different ways of thoughts. Sorry you dont want to be part of that change, but I would say that my experiences/ pesonal interactions with Emiratis go much further towards acceptance, understanding, and change than a militant tone where you refuse interaction.

  36. That’s right we did. Guess what happened? Those laws were purged. Civil rights activists came down from the north and started demanding change. Hell, the president got involved numerous times throughout numerous generations.

    When was the last civil rights march, or gay rights march, or women’s rights march in the UAE or Qatar?

    Hence why I said all countries have a bloody past. What matters is what countries did, and are doing and practicing today and I’m not talking about religion. If I was around during Jim Crow laws, I’d refuse to take Delta based in Atlanta.

    I really don’t understand why this concept is so hard for people to grasp? You should be speaking out against injustices wherever they may be occurring today. Even if that means you’ll have to forgo the opulent St. Regis, or the Birj Khalifa, or any other luxurious hotel in that country.

    People need to be standing up against injustice, not making excuses for them.

  37. You really just dont know anything about these countries or their culture. You’re looking at them through a lens that you shouldnt be. While we would like it to be just like it is here in the US, the fact is, places develop on their own time frame, and it’s really none of our business to tell them how to do it or when. These are countries and societies that were literally nomadic cultures with no laws/ institutions etc a century ago. Things are developing quickly. Just because they’re not the way YOU’D like them to be right now doesnt mean they will never change. It’s kind of arrogant to make those assumptions. For now, my stand is that the person to person contact, the soft influencing that I and many others have engaged in, is what moves the dial forward. I’ve been to and lived in these places and know what works and what doesnt. Have you?

  38. No unfortunately I’ve never experienced getting lashed, nor have I experienced my testimony being worth half of a man’s in court.

    I guess I’m just not cultured like you…

  39. @ Abe — I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi (and hated it, but that’s a story for a different day). There are definitely a lot of societal and political problems in the UAE, but I lived my life exactly as I would in the US without incurring lashes. I never encountered anyone trying to force a belief system on me, or really even making me adhere to theirs. Hearing the call to prayer didn’t feel any different than cathedral bells when I lived in Italy.

    Being white of course helps with that tremendously, just like it does in the U.S., and not everyone will have the same experience. But I’d suggest that it’s worth listening to the points other commenters are making about the realities of life in the UAE, and the cultural progress that is being made despite the government (and in part because of the exposure to new ideas).

    If you scratch the surface of any country, things get ugly quickly. Maybe ask the women in your life if they feel like their words are given equal weight to those of a man. There are volumes of information on how rape victims are often treated in the U.S. (hint, it’s more likely as a pariah than not). Or look into the living, working, and political conditions of our imported labor class. Despite the 2003 ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas, many states in the U.S. still have statutes prohibiting homosexual acts. “Christian Crusaders” acting as white supremacists were responsible for a majority of extremist killings in the U.S. last year.

    There are endless examples of our country being problematic and imperfect as well. And there are some people who make calling out every injustice they see their life’s work. But it hardly seems fair to label everyone who lives, works, visits, or does business with the U.S. a hypocrite. And perhaps that same understanding could be extended to other places as well — something that travel should ideally help facilitate.

  40. @Abe

    do you really believe that happens to everybody who goes there, or to the majority of the people who live there? If at all? Wow, just wow. Maybe go see the world rather than preach from a soap box. You might learn something. That’s what travel is about, both domestically and internationally.

  41. Many of you are missing the point I’m trying to make. I have also befriended many people who live in the Emirates. 90% of the people who live there are ex pats working there. Yes it’s very nice, and there’s lots of people from different cultures. That aspect is great.

    I am not saying anyone forces you to do anything. I am not saying everyone there is oppressed (especially rich white people). What I am saying is the government, and people in charge, are a benighted group that commits human rights violations. That is not something you should be taking lightly and just say “well it didn’t happen to me when I lived there. I got to meet so many different people, so everything is fine!” No it’s not fine. Just because you’re from a privileged class, doesn’t mean the rights of the unprivileged there don’t matter.

    Yes, gays if caught are lashed. Yes, if women become embroiled in legal battles, for example against a former male partner there, get ready to be trampled upon, and your rights stripped.

    @Tiffany you think women have it so hard in the US? I would urge you to read that article.

    Yes you can live peacefully and nicely just like you would in the US. That doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with the country. The UAE and Qatar still have laws the government enforces, that are on the books, that are brutally committed against people everyday that are grotesque human rights violations. To even being have this conversation, and for me having to highlight these issues to you is actually quite sad.

  42. Nobody said there’s nothing wrong and that things there cant be changed. You can say the same thing about any country. The point, which you are missing, is that it’s not all black and white. The way things change is subtly, through human interaction, and with time. I know tons of gays living in abu Dhabi (I was one of them) who lived quite openly mostly, and never heard of these things happening. Either way, the laws on the books dont always match what happens in real life, just like in most places. Our point is that things arent black and white as you see them – and that change happens through human interaction and exposure to new ideas. Without that, there is no progress, and there never will be.

  43. I’m not saying that anything is black-and-white.

    What I am saying, is occurring whether you want to admit it or not. Lucky it did not happen to you, good for you. Human interactions are great, but that has nothing to do with what I am talking about. I’m talking about governments in charge, and the actions of governments.

    Discriminatory laws are on the books. These laws are enforced. They are horrible human rights abuses.

    You can try and slice it anyway you want. These grotesque human rights abuses are occurring in these countries. Period. So stop trying to dress these countries up (especially Qatar, give me a break) like it’s some progressive place.

    I’ve said what I wanted to say. I’m not gonna continue with you, even if you want to ignore it. There are grotesque human rights abuses being done by these governments to many people. Because nothing happened to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. In fact I think it’s quite selfish to keep insisting nothing happened to you, so it must be fine.

    You do a grave disservice, and disrespect to the people who have been victims of human rights abuses there!

  44. I never said it was “all fine” since nothing happened to me nor any of the hundreds I knew or worked with. You are making it black and white. Things are changing in these countries, just like they have changed in many countries, but you just wont see it. Are things perfect? No. But things are changing for the better. And you’re basing all your opinion on a few articles and searches you’ve done, and simply closing your ears to the experiences that many have had. How well-rounded of you

  45. @ Abe — I didn’t miss your point, but I’m afraid you have missed the one that I and others have been trying to make. Of course we’re all tremendously privileged, and of course things are not fine in many, many, many countries around the globe. I don’t think anyone has tried to claim otherwise, and it’s certainly not something I take lightly. I’m not unaware of the issues you’re raising, nor am I defending them.

    The world is complicated. People are not always their governments. Acknowledging that complexity doesn’t necessarily require abdicating your morals and ethics, and those encouraging an increased understanding across humans in different cultures and circumstances, or saying that the circumstances on the ground mightn’t be as you expect, shouldn’t be decried as hypocrites.

  46. No I get your points. The cultures are complicated (not really) and we have to be open to experience new cultures. Yes very nice and open minded, that’s great.

    I pointed out above what was hypocritical. I’m not gonna go rehash everything that’s been said.

    You said the world is complicated I couldn’t agree more. So next time you’re in one of these backward countries, I hope you don’t piss off the wrong sheikh, show the wrong kinds of displays of public affection to the wrong person, or end up in court because of an incident there. Safe travels.

  47. @ Abe

    “backward countries”? Really?

    Setting aside that extraordinary condemnation of entire countries, here’s a game: which country is more “backward”: USA or Cuba?

    2nd question: what are the infant mortality rates in the USA and Cuba? Do feel free to look them up.

    Now, if you’re a pregnant woman, in which country would you rather give birth?

    Comparisons are inevitably selective. In most of the world, the vast majority of the people have little say in who their government is or what policies are pursued.

    Boycotting Qatar won’t make the slightest difference to the incredibly wealthy ruling families who are sitting on the world’s largest deposits of natural gas (that western countries seem happy to import, and which you seem happy to use as part of the energy mix that you pay for). But a boycott would directly affect the poorer people who rely on the service economy – hotels, airlines, restaurants.

    I always think principles don’t matter a damn unless it costs you something to hold them. Yet you seem to want only other people to suffer for your principles. Your justification for flying premium cabins on Emirates is frankly bizarre – you seem to think you are some sort of fearless warrior as you steal an extra toothbrush from the washrooms. All while basking in the attention provided by poor people whose livelihoods you seem to want to destroy. Presumably that’s just “collateral damage”?

    Funny how only other people suffer for your “principles”…

  48. I just want to correct one thing that you said, I don’t want to get into this again.

    Yes those infant mortality rates are reported by each individual governments. So I’m going to ask you a question, do you trust the Castro regime on what they’re reporting? According to them there’s no poverty in the country either.

  49. @ Abe

    Hey Abe!

    I love the way you completely ignore every single post questioning your “principles”, but can’t resist a quick political attack to spout the received right-wing political “wisdom” that Cuba is automatically evil while the USA is inevitably honest and innocent. (The reverse is not necessarily true either, of course.)

    Ok, do it in stages. Compare US death rates with those of every other rich western democracy – you know, such evil left-wing regimes as Canada, UK, Germany, Japan. See something obvious?

    Now, look at the numbers of doctors and nurses trained by US and Cuba per 100,000 population. We know Cuba produces that many medical staff: in fact, it produces so many that it exports vast numbers of them to other countries, too.

    Now look at the construction of the healthcare systems in each country. I’d suggest that the US has some of the absolute best medical provision in the world – *if* you’re rich enough to pay for it. But if you’re poor, it’s utterly lousy. The system is not even efficient: the UK spends 8% of GDP on a healthcare system (for all its problems) that has better overall outcomes than the US – which spends 15% of GDP to buy worse total outcomes. So we also know there isn’t necessarily a correlation between spending and effectiveness.

    If you’re an average pregnant woman of course you can trust your political beliefs; I’d suggest that may not give the optimum outcome for you and your baby.

    Still, I guess we now know that Cuba is yet another country you’re likely to add to your long list of evil regimes. How many places are you boycotting now? Or do you actually deliberately fly Cubana too, so you can sabotage their economy by stealing an extra bar of soap from the washroom…

  50. The display about whataboutism here is something else. User complains about the glorification of Dubai and other Gulf States while issues like non-existing Gay, Womens or Workers Rights are being completely ignored. Responses weigh from “B-But America had slavery once!!!!!11” to “B-But you’re buying from H&M too right?”. You should all feel ashamed.

  51. And for reference, I’m not encouraging a Disclaimer of sorts in front of every ME3/Gulf State carrier review. But the ignorance and lack of self-awareness of a gay man, who would be lashed/jailed/worse by the state if found out and/or publicly displayed, giving such extreme praise (“The Dubai I love”) is astonishing.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *