Friday, May 2, 2008

The One&Only

The sun was low in the sky when the young Bedouin sensed restlessness among his usually imperturbable camels. Stopping the caravan, he scanned the horizon. He could see in the distance the placid dunes rise into a raging wall of sand, devouring all before it. “Shemal!” he gasped and turned in fear towards home, knowing that only shelter could be his salvation.

Diriving his camels onwards, he heard the wail of the storm closing in. Then, as he crested a giant dune, he saw the fortress nestled between the desert and the Arabian Sea. Shimmering in the late sun and crowned by a majestic dome, this was clearly no normal desert fortress. The gates opened as he approached, and upon entering, it was as if he had crossed to another world. For three days and nights, the storm raged outside the giant walls, yet inside he was able to relax amid palm trees and luscious gardens. He was treated like royalty and accommodated in a luxurious apartment, with feasting and music long into the night.

When the storm subsided, the young Bedouin bade farewell to his kind hosts and with a heavy heart, continued his journey. At the summit of the dune from where he had first sighted the fortress, he turned. Before him lay only desert and the distant shores of the Arabian Sea. The fort was no more.

Of course, whisper the old nomads around cracking desert campfires, that is the way of all mirages – indeed of all things magical. One day, it is said, the fortress will rise again from the sands in all its glory, and once again travelers will arrive at its mighty gates in search of a memorable welcome.

The fortress has risen again in Dubai today. It’s the One&Only Royal Mirage. Book one of the suites in the Residence. I did, and spent a great weekend there, along with giving a speech to my old friends at P&G. I was also there for the launch of The Lovemarks Effect at Borders in the Mall of The Emirates, which is right next to the largest covered artificial ski slope in the world. And that’s not all. I also gave a keynote to the IAA and a dinner/speech to Saatchi & Saatchi clients at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Dubai is no mirage. As I mentioned earlier this week, we are seeing the beginning of an Economic Miracle, and a sustainable one at that.