Category Archives: Dubai

Time to Buy an Engagement Ring

Jumeirah Beach Dubai

Another early start, but strangely I don’t feel jet lagged – just excited and nervous about the prospect of trying to find the perfect engagement ring for Debbie. Having spent the last year thinking about my proposal to Debbie and digging for clues I already have a rough idea of what the perfect engagement ring will look like. I can visualise it now in my mind’s eye.

So after breakfast it was time to pay a visit to a particular jewellers in Dubai. I’m not going to tell you where it is, but if you’re a professional footballer or celebrity who has visited Dubai then the chances are you’ve probably bought something from this particular jewellers.

As I made my way into the jewellers I was unsure as to how I would accurately communicate the image of perfection that I had in my mind and then as if by chance I caught a glimpse of what I was looking for in the window. Well almost, the ring in the window was a different material and the diamond wasn’t quite right, but it was still a good starting point.

After an introduction to the manager and an explanation of what was required I was presented with a collection of different diamonds. After some time comparing different cuts, sizes and colours I found the diamond I was looking for. No matter which way you looked at it this diamond sparkled, it felt right and I knew that it would look beautiful on Debbie’s finger.

The manager gave me and my Aunt a drink, before discussing my expectations with one of his colleagues. I was then escorted to an adjoining building which contained the jeweller’s workshop and over the next hour watched in fascination as Debbie’s engagement ring was created from scratch to my exact specification by some highly skilled master craftsmen.

Upon returning to the jewellers I watched as the manager was presented with the engagement ring. He checked it over to ensure that it met my exact requirements and then invited me to inspect the diamond under a microscope. I could clearly see that inscribed into the middle of the diamond was a unique serial number – this certified that this was not a conflict diamond. I was then presented with the engagement ring in a beautiful wooden box and all of the documentation that accompanied this beautiful ring.

The entire experience of witnessing Debbie’s engagement ring being created from scratch was unbelievable and made the ring feel even more special – it was truly unique.

After paying for the engagement ring I made my way back to Liz’ Humvee, gripping the bag containing the engagement ring and documentation as tightly as I could. I then gave my Mum a call to let her know that I had not only found the perfect engagement ring, but had also seen it being created. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my Mum sound as excited as she was during this 10 minute phone call.

After an afternoon chilling out in Liz’ apartment we headed out to The Dubai Mall to catch up with some of Liz’ friends. In terms of leasable area The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall and is part of the $20-billion Burj Khalifa complex.

We decided to eat at Karam Beirut, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant situated next to the Dubai Fountain and at the foot of the Burj Khalifa – the World’s tallest building. If you’re ever in Dubai I highly recommend that you visit this restaurant, sit outside and take in the atmosphere and views.

Back at the apartment I completed my online check-in and packed my backpack ready for the next part of my adventure. Tomorrow I fly to Thailand and I cannot wait to see Debbie!

Journey to Dubai

Dubai Part One: Emirates Plane

Up very early for a journey to Gatwick Airport with my Mum and Dad; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to be leaving, even if it is only for 7 weeks. Some people go away for 6 months at a time, some even go for a year!

You see I’ve never been the best traveller and I do enjoy my home comforts. I’ve also got a Primary Antibody Deficiency (PAD) which means that my body does not make antibodies and therefore I must regularly top up the areas in which I am deficient.

Luckily, this sadness was offset by the fact that I was heading off on the trip of a lifetime and come Sunday evening I’ll be in Bangkok with my beautiful girlfriend Debbie. I haven’t seen her for 23 days and am already missing her lots. Before that though, there’s the small matter of a 2 day stop over in Dubai and the task of buying Debbie an engagement ring. We’ve been together for 4 years and 10 months and I’ve decided that this trip will throw up numerous perfect opportunities to ask Debbie to marry me. More on this later.

After arriving at the airport I had a very easy check-in and just enough time for breakfast with my Mum and Dad. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but the breakfast was great – not as great as the look I got off the waiter when I requested some maple syrup which I promptly poured all over my fry-up.

With no delays expected for my flight it was time to head for security. I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the journey as I had a bag full of needles and immunoglobulin which I would need to transport safely to my Aunt’s apartment in Dubai. I will take this medication during the final week of my trip to help boost my immune system which by that point will be at a very low level after 6 weeks without a top up.

Prior to my trip I had let the airline know that I would be carrying these items on the flight to Dubai. I also had letters written by my Consultant Immunologist to help explain to any airport security officials why I needed to carry this medication. As an additional measure I had taken the opportunity to have these letters translated into Arabic – hopefully this will avoid any complications that might arise at security when I arrive at Dubai International Airport.

So after giving my Mum and Dad a hug and a kiss goodbye I headed through security and onto Emirates flight: EK0012 for the start of what was set to be a wonderful experience.

I’ve flown with Emirates a number of times in the past and each time the experience has been wonderful, this time was no exception; I was even greeted with a “…welcome back Mr O’Neil”. On board there was a lovely choice of food and after much deliberation I went for the chicken tikka, washed down with a few cans of Pepsi and a couple of white wines. The in-flight entertainment was varied as always, yet for some reason I didn’t fancy watching a film so instead viewed two documentaries; the first was about 90’s goal scoring sensation Gabriel Batistuta; the second focused on England’s epic experience at Italia ’90. I then spent the remainder of the 6 hours 50 minutes flight talking to a very interesting gentleman who was sit next to me. He was travelling to Abu Dhabi via Dubai for training related to oil drilling. During our conversation I discovered that he actually lives in Canada and is originally from Kashmir. It transpired that he can remotely control an oil drill from the comfort of his home office.

I landed in Dubai at 19:50 local time and as always was very impressed with the opulence of the airport. It took 10 minutes to get through passport control and then it was onto security. Now after being apprehensive about the airport security’s reaction to me bringing infusion equipment and immunoglobulin into the UAE the experience was actually a good one. The security guard seemed to appreciate that I had translated my documentation into Arabic and happily waved me through. After picking up my luggage I was greeted with a big hug and an ice cold bottle of water from my Aunty Liz. It’s always nice to see a member of your family who you don’t get to see as often as you would like. As we made our way through the airport car park to Liz’s Hummer I remember thinking that even though it’s the end of September and 21:00 it’s still very hot.

Liz had been aware of my plans to buy Debbie an engagement ring. However, by the time we got back to her apartment it was going to be too late to go ring shopping and if I’m honest I just wanted to get some food, get over my jet lag and get to bed.

After dropping off my luggage and more importantly my infusion equipment and immunoglobulin Liz and I headed over to Khan Murjan –  an Umawi Age inspired souk located next to the WAFI Shopping Mall. Khan Murjan is my favourite Arabic restaurant and if you’re ever in Dubai I highly recommend that you pay them a visit. Situated in an old fashioned courtyard with air conditioning, a traditional water wheel and Arabic music the experience and food is simply unbelievable! I can honestly say that I’d been dreaming of this meal since my last visit to Dubai back in September 2010.

Time for bed now, I’m expecting an early start tomorrow, there’s a lot to fit in before I travel to Bangkok on Sunday. Most important of all, I need to find Debbie the perfect engagement ring.