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Ireland should market itself – and its rain – more aggressively in the Gulf 

The weather was just what a visitor from early summer Gulf would want

Beautiful sites such as the Giant's Causeway and the gentle 'soft weather' rain would appeal to Gulf tourists Unsplash/Gregory Hayes
Beautiful sites such as the Giant's Causeway and the gentle 'soft weather' rain would appeal to Gulf tourists

I’ve spent most of the past week in Dubai trying to come back down to earth after a simply fantastic trip to Ireland – my ancestral home – with my son.

A Bruce Springsteen concert in Dublin, the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, the wild coasts of Connemara and the mind-blowing Cliffs of Moher in County Clare: we had a fair old road trip, my son as driver, me as navigator – a relaxing role in the era of GPS.

The weather was just what a visitor from early summer Gulf would want – bright, breezy sunshine, interspersed with the occasional biblical downpour and bouts of drizzle the Irish call “soft” weather. 



The highlight – apart from Bruce of course – was a stay at my favourite place on earth: the magical Renvyle House Hotel on the far west coast in County Galway.

This historic old house has seen it all. Three Nobel Laureates – WB Yeats, Winston Churchill and Seamus Heaney – are among the poets and politicians who have over the years enjoyed the savage tranquillity of the Irish Atlantic coast, surrounded by mountains, ocean and rugged landscape, in Renvyle.

The place holds a special place for me because it was my late mother’s first place of employment, apart from back-breaking work on the family farm just a few kilometres away. She was a teenage maid there sometime in the 1930s, working to get together the money to emigrate to England.

There was a British guy working on a project for the Irish tourism authorities staying at the hotel. He explained that they were trying to change the country’s offering, making it more attractive to well-heeled Americans, French, Germans – and of course British.

Over a glass or two, I told him straight that he should market Ireland more aggressively in the Arabian Gulf. I have no doubt that places like Renvyle House would be an irresistible draw for Khaleejis looking for authenticity, great leisure opportunities indoor and outdoor – and rain.

The long walk from Dublin to Dubai

I love Emirates Airline, and choose to fly it on every chance I get, so Dubai to Dublin return was an easy option.

Seven hours or so of business class luxury was just what I needed before the rigours of a three-hour Springsteen concert – even if the upgrade did take a bigger bite out of my precious Skywards points than I expected. (When are they going to introduce premium economy on that route?).

Returning, the experience was not so good. The overnight flight was fine, and I got a few hours sleep, but the red-eye is always energy-sapping.

So the last thing I wanted was a mini-trek through DXB terminal 3 on disembarkation. But that is exactly what I got, along with the rest of the bleary-eyed passengers.

We were a sorry looking party trudging through interminable neon lit tunnels in the early morning. Some fell by the wayside, seeking recuperation in uncomfortable chairs.

Others (like me) begged relief from the airport buggies that were standing idle along the route, only to be told they were reserved for first class passengers or guests of Marhaba, the meet-and-greet service at DXB.

It was galling to see them pull away with two passengers on an eight-seat buggy while I continued the slog on foot.

By the time I got to baggage collection, my Apple watch told me I had walked two kilometres. Nothing for a super-fit 72-year-old like me, but I did worry for the old people.

Arab Media red tape

The other downer on my return from the Old Country was being denied entry to the Arab Media Summit that began in Dubai the following day.

This is always a great event, a chance to feel the pulse of the media business in the region, as well as an opportunity to meet up again with some of the friends I’ve made over 18 years in the Gulf.

But for whatever reason – maybe the distraction of Bruce and Renvyle House – I (and the rest of AGBI) missed the deadline for registration. I was told the evening before the event that this would be a problem but decided to chance it on the morning anyway, hoping that somebody in authority would recognise me and take pity.

Well, I was recognised, but pity was in short supply. The message came down from on high: “No registration, no entry”.

I acknowledge, as much as the next journalist who has worked in the region, that security and procedure are essential at official events, and promise to get my act together well before next year’s summit.

But really, what kind of threat could have come from an ageing hack, still slightly stiff from the DXB slog and softly humming Dancing In the Dark?

Frank Kane is Editor-at-Large of AGBI and an award-winning business journalist. He acts as a consultant to the Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia and is a media adviser to First Abu Dhabi Bank of the UAE

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