Reflections on international living and travel



Dubai: buildings in the sun
Dubai in the blistering sun - which is pretty much any day of the year


Anti-Vax Surprise in Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, September 2012 (as remembered in November 2021) - by Jeffrey

I was in Dubai on business. Good business. Good enough that the client put me up in a suite 40 odd floors up the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. The suite was as luxurious as it was cold in a businesslike way. On the same floor was a small café which offered buffet meals and even alcoholic drinks. In Dubai, alcohol is served, but only to non-Muslims. I'm a non-Muslim and always have been.

I was in the café, relaxing with a glass of wine before dining, when I got caught up in the view. I tried to photograph it, bent over the bench in a convoluted way so that I could press the lens against the glass window (it was night and I didn't want café reflections in the shot).

"Stunning view, isn't it?" said a voice looking down at me curiously. And why not, I was in a curious position. The voice had a hint of a German accent and belonged to a handsome, middle aged woman dressed in expensive casual.

"It is indeed," I said, getting up and looking at her. We struck up a conversation and ended up sitting down to drinks and dinner in the café. It wasn't a pick-up scenario. Just two lonely business travellers in a hotel tower in the middle of the desert. In any event, taking a member of the opposite sex to your room is illegal can actually get you in deep shit in Dubai.

It turned out she was a C-class executive in a major pharmaceutical company. So, it wasn't surprising that the conversation turned to one of my pet-peeves: anti-vaxxers, particularly those who believe there is a connection between vaccines and autism. Her response surprised me.

We both had drunk more wine than we should have in a place like Dubai. Fortunately, that probably loosened her tongue.

"Oh, we drive the anti-vax movement," she said. I almost laughed at this.

"What?" I exclaimed, seeing she was perfectly serious.

"Our company pumps money into the movement and prepares anti-vax blog posts as well as graphics for social media," she said with a proud laugh.

"Why on earth would you do that," I asked, flabbergasted.

"Well, we barely make any profit on vaccine sales; they're essentially a commodity."

"Sure, I get that."

"But, if there was a measles pandemic or something like polio again reared its ugly head in the developed world, governments would go crazy trying to contain it. That would lead to massive budgets and little government oversight. A month of pandemic spending would earn us far more than years of vaccine sales."

I had to laugh at the irony. The anti-vax movement has long claimed that the vaccine thing is all about enriching big pharma. The truth, at least according to my dinner companion that evening, is that the anti-vax movement is working hard to help enrich big pharma. And the anti-vaxxers haven't got a clue!

We had another drink and talked of other things before saying good night and going back to our respective rooms.

I never saw her again and on reflection, I recalled that she had displayed quite a sense of humour during our long chat. Maybe she just made up that story to mess with my head. For some reason, women like to mess with my head.

Or maybe not.

Dubai - my hotel
My hotel. I think it was the building on the left. The other one was offices.



Dubai - from the café window
View from the café - but during the daytime - I unsuccessfully tried to photograph this at night (see story above)



Dubai - taken from the footbridge in picture above 
Taken from the footbridge in picture above

Dubai - at the edge of the desert




Dubai on the desert 
Desert outskirts of the city.


Dubai - the desert
The desert


Dubai at night
Dubai is prettiest at night


Dubai at night
Dubai at night - again



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