Dubai International Airport is a throwback to those glory days of casual cruising, innocent afternoons spent sipping slushies at the mall before a smorgasbord of eye-candy.
A hub for just about every major flight going West to East and back again, shuffling thousands of people each day to every destination imaginable. Where long waits at other airports may inspire dread, Dubai is a hustle of activity too flashy to ignore, the Las Vegas of airports, so much energy and bling all around you it’s impossible to give in to traveller’s exhaustion.
Jacked up on Ethiopian coffee, eight hours to kill on a layover between Africa and North America, immediately I’m struck by how many good looking men there are, every possible taste represented, and a million different ways to go about checking them out, subtle or brash.
Right from the first checkpoint, as two smiling security men pull me aside to inspect my bag, loose white sheik-robes barely concealing bulging musculatures underneath, playfully asking questions about every item with a manner that induces blushing — try not to flirt with them, suppress any temptations to elicit a body search.
Too congested to make hardcore shenanigans possible, Dubai is the ideal place for lusty gazing and casual flirtation. (Though for those of a more advanced nature the washrooms are spacious and bright with many accessories not common in the average abode, but never quiet or empty.)
One attendant, tongue firmly in cheek, suggests this rule of thumb: “All Australians are a little gay,” he laughs mischievously. “All Middle Eastern men too, and oh, don’t forget the Brits.”
Dubai generates an aura of nostalgia in its arenas for public cruising. Bars and lounges in every possible style and atmosphere offering every possible scenario. Old favourites like the smokers’ corner still excel here.
At one smoke break three German buddies sit side by side, each slightly different, all cute: a hippie, a rocker, and a jock-cowboy. None speak any English, chattering at each other in their guttural native tongue that makes your skin prickle with its course roughness.
They are arguing about rolling papers, clearly, as one bag of tobacco bounces between them, met with grunts of insufficiency. I’ve just finished rolling one across from them and all three stare at the package balanced on my knee. One jostles the rocker to approach, scraping together some simple English for a clumsily stated request. But it’s not needed. I smile and hand over the papers.
All three of them descend on me, on all sides, rolling smokes as they talk excitedly, while I smile and nod, my head full with shocking amounts of indecent thoughts.
Every available space not devoted to departures/arrivals or layover lounging is filled with the retail glories of duty-free shopping at such volumes that mall comparisons are simple to justify. At a Hugo Boss outlet, I play quiet and bashful, while a tall Indian in an expensive three-piece suit helps me try on an assortment of sweaters and shirts, female attendants rushing about his orders as he smoothes my shoulders in a blazer that would be too expensive to even consider back home, suddenly Wal-Mart-cheap in duty free, or a total knockoff, I’m never quite sure. He bounces thick eyebrows with a twisted grin on his face with every new clothing suggestion that requires changing.
If you have a fetish for a certain part of the globe, seek out the gates departing to those areas and guaranteed the scenery will be bursting with specimens. In the end, eight hours blows past in a blur of activity, wandering through the bustling levels of dining, shopping, rushing travellers in various states of panic/excitement/exhaustion, thousands of people you may never see again, but for now you may gaze on them indiscriminately.