Straight off the plane and into the rooftop pool…

It took four people to get me off the aircraft and to the hotel: the woman to meet me and take my passport and rush me through customs, the baggage man, the hotel rep to say hello and the driver, whose white Lincoln shussssssshed down the near-empty highway on 114km/hour.

“The speed cameras pick you up if you’re above 115, 120,” the driver explained as my brain tried to catch up after the 14-hour flight from Melbourne to Dubai. “Not like the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road, where they don’t catch you till you exceed 180.”

Luckily at this time the smooth roads were quiet, and the early morning light catching the construction cranes, illuminating roadside portraits of stern sheiks and glinting off Burj Khalifa, pointing like a dagger in the distance.

My hotel, the new Pullman, is in the massive Mall of the Emirates. Take a lift to the first floor and walk into shopping hysteria.

The mall’s soundscape ranged between the call to prayer echoing throughout and Bryan Adams, played a few tasteful moments after prayers. FYI, iPads are no cheaper than in Australia, and the shops are stocked with grey and black knits, as Dubai goes into its long, dreary winter (think: Melbourne winter, but shorter, drier and about 20 degrees warmer). Temps today: a pre-set 20.5C in my hotel room, 33C out in the sunshine.