After 6 years in Dubai, I finally got to see this glorious city from an aspect I have been so eager to see.
Thanks to ALPHA TOURS and Captain Mark Trotter, I was fortunate enough to see “Dubai from the Sky” with their luxury Helicopter Services from the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah.
As we arrived, we were kindly hosted by a professional team of staff who welcomed us to the Alpha Tours Heli-Lounge where we were registered, sat through a safety briefing and had the nerve-wrecking “weigh-in”; fortunately that part wasn’t broadcasted with the rest of the passengers…. but we all had money on “that big guy” being the heaviest!
Alpha Tours host a variety of activities within the UAE from excursions to Al Ain, desert safaris, fishing and cruises along the extensive UAE coastline; a professional and well organized unit, I was grateful for the opportunity to enjoy one of their many experiences with a helicopter ride over Dubai.
As we eagerly waited for our flight two ‘copters were buzzing in and around the bright blue Atlantis Heli-pad. This activity was clearly extremely popular as each flight was fully booked and lots of customers always lining up for the “must-do” tour over Dubai.
Our host for the day, Capt. Steve Long, is one of the finest pilots from an elite crew whose backgrounds include the New Zealand Navy and British Air Force, providing a distinct comfort for any passenger perhaps a little nervous of flying – rest assured you have the highest qualified pilots in charge of a “mission” they could do blindfolded.
So as we cleared the Palm Crescent, we flew towards the World, which after so many years of press and speculation, I was glad to see with my own eyes. Laid out meticulously four kilometers off the shoreline, it demonstrated what a challenging and ambitious project it is and I am looking forward to the invite to someone’s home when it’s built. Capt. Long introduced the recently opened Royal Island Beach Club, based on the Island of Lebanon for an exclusive guest list to visit, relax and enjoy. I think I may just give them a call and arrange a visit.
We continued over Jumeriah’s long stretch of beaches and headed over towards the skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, desperately looking for some of my favourite places like Reem Al Bawadi on Jumeirah Beach Road and iKandy in the Shangri La Hotel– it was exciting to see Dubai’s central business district from this angle.
Before making the long u-turn back to the Atlantis, we passed over Wafi and The Raffles Hotel and headed down the famous Dubai Creek. Having lived in Deira for three years, many of my fondest early memories of moving to Dubai come from this area of town—from the glorious Park Hyatt Hotel to the hustle and bustle of the Creek-side dhows, and of course the nostalgia of Bastikah Nights. We gently glided over a myriad of buildings, Abras and activities below. As we passed over Dubai’s docks, we saw the impressive QE2 Royal Britannica Yacht moored in all its splendor—we all speculated on the official announcement of its final destination and look forward to visiting that tourist spot when it opens too.
So, as we passed along Jumeirah’s coastline, we saw the famous Union House, where the UAE celebrated its 40th Anniversary in December 2011 and we watched with pride the UAE flag towering above its location and gently fluttering in the light winds. From here, we passed over one of my favourite Japanese restaurants, Sho-Cho’s, at Dubai Marine where the atmosphere and popularity of this place is one to experience when in Dubai.
Continuing down the coast, we passed over the infamous Burj Al Arab and Jumeriah Beach Hotel—home to “360” located at the end of the JBH Marina with great views of Dubai and the Burj Al Arab; and then of course “Skyview” located at the top of the Burj Al Arab for exquisite views and hospitality; this area is one of the most popular locations for tourists and residents alike.
So as we start to see the Atlantis coming back into view, we knew our Alpha Tours trip was coming to a close. But we still had time to hover over Media City, the Royal Palaces and my apartment on the Shoreline. With the sun setting over the Palm, it really made the 8th Wonder of the World look even more wonderful, making it a great end to the flight.
Our final pass was over the new Rixos Hotel, a glorious property at the end of the Eastern Crescent recently opened under the auspicious attendance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and for which I had the honour of attend. I have no doubt this will become the hottest spot in town for beach club activities and relaxing under the evening sunset.
So as we circled The Atlantis, I thought, “This 30-minute trip has flown by.” Thank you Alpha Tours and Capt. Trotter, and thanks Capt. Long for your hospitality, the informative and safe flight. I sincerely look forward to another trip very soon.