Dull, duller, dullest: Dubai Airport, Terminal 3

I’ve always admired the United Arab Emirates for their sense of business! With the world’s seventh largest oil reserves, it possesses one of the most developed economies in the Middle East.

Well, I guess you can say what you want about the recent problems resulting from the economic crisis and the UAE’s involvement but the fact is, some of the infrastructure they provide predominantly in the tourism sector and the subsequent transport industry does have a lasting, positive effect on people well beyond the Arabic state.

Let’s look at Dubai and its home carrier Emirates Airlines which set itself up as a “hub” airport mainly serving as a link between Europe and Asia. It’s probably become the 2nd most profitable route after Europe to North America and Emirates Airlines and Dubai are taking a large share of that, whilst providing service that challenge the far more established carriers such as Cathay Pacific or British Airways.

With that you would think Dubai’s airport (IATA: DXB) with its newest addition of Terminal 3 must be quite the landmark and that spending time there would be something to very much look forward to.

Sadly … it’s quite the contrary. I found the airport terminal 3 one of the dullest I’ve ever seen, despite being new and fairly well designed from a usability point of view. Structurally it’s similar to Heathrow’s Terminal 5 where all gates are directly located along the main building to allow passengers to spend more time shopping & dining and less time transiting to the gates. BUT the airport doesn’t offer much of anything beyond the shops and restaurants you see in all other airports.

Upon entering the terminal you are wowed by the sense of diversity and at first glance engaged in the difference but you’ll quickly discover that all the shops are the same; they just have a different name! As disappointing as it was, with an open mind & a bit of creativity you’ll always find things to do if – oh yeah – you suffer a LateDeparture.com!

So, here you go readers – my top selections if you get stuck in Dubai:

  • Indulge on a “pain of chocolat” from the French bakery, Paul, near gate 212. Think of where you’d rather be at the moment. Did I hear Paris?
  • Missing the Pulp Juice brand from your stay in Australia a few years ago? Even though this brand no longer exists down-under, you can still find an outlet in Terminal 3, near gate 219. This is certainly a very nice (healthy and refreshing) option between flights.
  • Go crazy and stock up for your Arab themed return party: buy cheesy souvenirs from the shop in the middle of the terminal
  • Get the most from your Emirates economy ticket and race to the free meal deal from 12am upstairs from Burger King near gate 212 (only passengers with a stop-over of more than 2 hours are eligible for a voucher). Oh yes people, l said FREE meal – Wicked! Hmmmm, let’s think .. Could it be possible that you paid for it in your ticket price somehow? As my economics professor would say, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Keep that in mind as you chomp into that meal & squeeze a few extra mini sandwiches into the remaining centimeter of your open mouth!
  • Lastly, boring but essential to know – Spark up with your favourite coffee at one of two Starbucks (near gate 205 & near gate 231)!

Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3
Website http://www.dubaiairport.com
Design LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Shopping LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Toilets LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Overall LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum, 100ml at the Duty Free Shop DHS 448 (£82.60)
Bottle of Veuve Cliquot at the Duty Free Shop DHS 172 (£31.70)

[Picture from Wikipedia]

  • I had this vision of Dubai as lavish and elegant. Airports are the gateway for tourists to appreciate a place, it can set either a good or bad impression.