By invitation of Ethiad Airlines, KAI Associates and our friends in the Arabian Gulf, I'm headed to Ahu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and to Muscat, Oman. UAE has become a major international air hub with many competing carriers offering free stopover opportunities.
I know what to expect. Skyscrapers, gold and glitz, and fancy air-conditioned malls amidst a modern global culture rooted in ancient tradition and Islamic faith. And I know that Business Class on Ethiad Air 16 hours direct from LAX should be smooth sailing in the air. Not to mention a few overnights in the Emirates Palace in the pinnacle of luxury and Arabian hospitality.
But it begs the question: Will I get beyond the luxe and the hardscape to experience anything resembling ecotourism? After all, Wildland Adventures is rooted in responsible travel that conserves the enviornment and supports the well-being of local people. I know I'm visiting countries that have been built out of the desert on the backs of a disadvantaged global work force. Will I even experience nature in and around this modern oasis in the desert? I'm less interested in seeing the world's largest carpet in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque than I am knowing something about the the 1200 weavers from Iran who created it, or to know something about the butler assigned to my room at the palace.
We shall see. Boarding now.