x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Dubai's flurry of festivals is ruining my sea view

Obstructing one's view of the shore is no laughing matter.

If you peer between the two sand-coloured residential towers that dominate much of the view from my lounge window, you can see the beach and, beyond that, the sea. It's not much, but it's there, it's blue, there are sometimes boats on it and – most importantly – it's visible. And this, above pretty much any other positive aspect about living in the UAE, is what makes me do a little jig of joy each morning, making all the possible drawbacks – searing summer heat, distinct lack of quality pies, etc – worthwhile.

Unfortunately, with this being a column, you're probably already expecting there to be a "however" coming shortly. And, alas, there is.

My glorious lounge-room view, however (there you go), has been subjected to a variety of significant aesthetic threats over the past few months. It seems that the spot of sand before you get to the main beach and then the sea has now become the de facto location for a growing number of events, each requiring increasingly elaborate stages that have been slowly encroaching on the wonderful sight of blue waves crashing on a shore.

First, it was some sort of sports festival (it's always a "festival", isn't it?), which was relatively low-rise, but still an unsightly affair and one that insisted on pumping out thumping beats loud enough for our Iranian friends across the Gulf to hear.

Then came an "Auto Insurance" festival (seriously) held by a well-known local bank I won't mention (but trust me, I won't ever be considering their premiums, however low they may be). Now, I'm no expert, but the image that springs to mind when I consider the word "insurance" is one of men in drab grey suits in windowless offices, not a sound-and-light display complete with MC giving shout outs to expensive motors that drive up on a stage and then drive off again.

The limp icing on the soggy cake came the weekend before last, when the Red Bull X-Fighters landed, bringing with them a gigantic arena that took more than 10 days to construct and was roughly the size of a small town. The picturesque speck of beach and sea visible from my window was, for about two weeks, a 20,000-capacity venue for enthusiasts of motorbikes doing unhealthily large jumps.

Now, I don't want to be a spoilsport, be it sports, motorbikes or, er, car insurance (not that this column would ever change anything). But aren't there dedicated, purpose-built places for these sorts of events? Doesn't Dubai have an entire city dedicated to festivals? (Yes, I know it's a shopping centre but other stuff happens there, too.) Aren't there stadiums already erected that could accommodate motorbikes leaping over stuff or car owners whooping enthusiastically about third-party benefits?

Why does it have to be on the lovely beach, and more specifically, the bit of lovely beach I can see from my window? Even if you did insist on using the beach, couldn't you just move it to the right by about 50 metres? It really would make me happy.

Anyway, that's my rant over for another week. Next time: why is my kettle too loud and toaster unable to toast to my exact requirements?