On Location in Dubai with Yahoo

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Enjoying a non-alcoholic cocktail and a stunning view.
Enjoying a non-alcoholic cocktail and a stunning view.

13 Years Ago…

Travel back in time thirteen years and you’ll find a very different Aussie on the Road. No beard, full head of hair, no passport, and nary a kiss to his name.

Fresh out of high school, this 18-year-old wallflower lived in a world where Yahoo was king.

In the days before you Googled things, you’d use Yahoo search to find them. Each day I’d log into my Yahoo email account (the shameful inches_72@yahoo.com) to check my emails before jumping on Yahoo Messenger to chat with friends from school and further afield.

It was surreal, then, when I received an email from Yahoo asking me if I’d like to travel to Dubai as part of their Hidden Dubai campaign in partnership with Emirates. The opportunity to work with my favourite airline and a global brand that played such a huge role in my formative years?

Where do I sign up?

The Hidden Dubai Project

Hidden Dubai is a joint initiative between Yahoo, Emirates, and Dubai Tourism to highlight elements of Dubai beyond the five star hotels and glamorous shopping. There is more to the city and its surrounds than could possibly be covered in a brief stopover between flights, and myself & a number of other bloggers from around the world were charged with experiencing that for ourselves.

My irreverant pics and various bold activities in the past put me in good stead to come on board as their adventure blogger, while I was joined on location by Luxury Travel Mom (covering culture) and Hungry Hungry Panda (covering food). Kim-Marie and Fei were only by my side for a single day of filming, but damned if we didn’t have a good time shooting clay pigeons and eating camel burgers together.

Kim-Marie (Luxury Travel Mom), myself, and Fei (Hungry Hungry Panda) at the JA Shooting Club.
Kim-Marie (Luxury Travel Mom), myself, and Fei (Hungry Hungry Panda) at the JA Shooting Club.

Our role in Dubai was a simple one: check out what the city had to offer while Yahoo’s crack film crew followed us around filming every thrill and spill.

It was a strange feeling being a celebrity – ushered to the front of lines while a duo (and occasionally a trio) of GoPro wielding Yahoo employees came after me; dolphins in the wake of a burly, bearded ship.

Meeting the Yahoo Crew

After arriving at 4am and crashing straight into my bed, I was up bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning to visit Yahoo’s Dubai HQ and liaise with my contacts on the ground.

The view from Yahoo's 48th floor office. Not too shabby.
The view from Yahoo’s 48th floor office. Not too shabby.

Obligatory staring like a yokel at the view complete, I soon met up with Farah, Serena, and Ed.

I’d gone into the whole affair intimidated by the prospect of working with a global juggernaut, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were all young, gregarious, and pretty relaxed people who weren’t just there to film me – but to make sure I had a good time as well.

When we weren’t rushing to different shoot locations, we were listening to Serena’s kick-ass jams as her Jeep cruised the streets or chilling out over a delicious meal. Good times were most definitely had.

The Adventure

I spent five exhausting, wonderfully enjoyable days in Dubai. I did everything from scuba diving with sharks to seeing the sun rise from a hot air balloon, from flyboarding to sunset yoga.

I’ll share each of these adventures with you (as well as Yahoo’s awesome video) in a later entry, but it really does highlight the breadth of activity that there is for an adventure traveler to attack while in Dubai. Even with five busy days, there were things I didn’t get to try such as sky-diving, deep sea fishing, and a sneaky visit to Ferrari World.

I wouldn’t have thought of Dubai as a place with a great deal to offer the adventurous at heart, so I was pleasantly surprised by how many options there were.

The Luxury

Of course, a big part of Dubai’s appeal is always going to be the luxurious lifestyle that visitors can expect to lead.

Based out of the opulent Gracie Serviced Apartments, I certainly did get used to that big double bed, my balcony view of the city, and the delicious room service I had sent my way whenever I had the opportunity.

I didn't get to stay in the Burj Al Arab, but it sure did get plenty of my photographic attention.
I didn’t get to stay in the Burj Al Arab, but it sure did get plenty of my photographic attention.

Perhaps the biggest treat for a lifetime economy passenger was the opportunity to fly home with Emirates in Business Class. I think it might have ruined me for future economy travel, but damned if I didn’t soak up as many experiences (and delicious cocktails) as humanly possible on that flight home. I didn’t even sleep, so intent was I on getting as much from the experience as possible.

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My time on location in Dubai with Yahoo was, without a doubt, the highest point that I’ve managed to soar to as a travel writer. To have been recognised by brands as big as Yahoo and Emirates was both humbling and gratifying, and I’ve got a whole bunch of exciting tales (and videos) to share with you in the coming weeks. I can’t wait!

Your Say

Have you been to Dubai? If so, did you get off the beaten track and try something a little different?

If you haven’t been to Dubai, what comes to mind when you think of the city?

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