It was not our first International flight but even still I decided to hire the Marhaba service for this trip. Marhaba in arabic roughly translates to Welcome. On this evening they were going to come pick us up and meet us at the airport and see us on through to the gate. I told them how many bags we were bringing and sent a map to our villa which was about 2 hours drive to the airport.
Earlier in the day, as we packed the last of the bags, Alex commented on how quiet the day had been. There were birds chirping but very little human sound – cars, people, general city sounds. It was quiet. The only break in this quiet was the call to prayer which echoed out across the desert sands as our villa was located in between 5 mosques (that I had identified but there could be more).
Our driver arrived at 8:30pm which was ahead of the 9pm pick up schedule. He spoke very little english and was not familiar with our little neighborhood. So after a little confusion and attempts to get him to just stay put and wait for us – Tom and I hopped in our car and found our driver at the nearby police station. I got in the driver’s car with him and we drove back to the villa. Knowing how to say “Left – Right – Straight – and Roundabout”– in arabic turned out to be very helpful this evening.
Even though we told them about all the bags we were bringing our driver arrived in a small Audi which barely fit just a little more than half of our bags in the trunk. He loaded the front seat up with the other bags and then the two kids and I squished into the back seat and my darling hubby loaded the guitar and the last bag on to my lap. He was not going to be able to join us on this trip back to the states. In all of the excitement we barely had the chance to say a proper goodbye – see you soon – to Tom. Kissing in public can get you thrown in jail and even though we were behind the walls of our own villa it was just better to wave goodbye.
We finally left the villa around 9:45pm and we were at the Dubai airport just shortly after 11pm as scheduled. A two hour trip in an hour and 15 minutes.
The best thing I did on this trip was to pre-arrange a porter along with the Marhaba service to meet us at the drop off point. Our porter took all of our bags and the Marhaba lady moved ropes out of the way so that we went to the front of the line. It might have been the time of day or the Marhaba lady but this process went VERY quickly. I had also checked in online ahead of time to ensure we had a group of three seats together window middle aisle. This process of printing boarding passes and confirming that all checked bags were on their way to Seattle went very quickly.
The next step was to go through a passport checkpoint which again had a Marhaba line which was no line at all. She then guided us through the second security screen. This was much easier than in the US – they didn’t ask us to take out laptops or remove shoes. Cruised through that.
And finally she called the go cart and they drove us the rest of the way to our gate. The kids sat on the back looking backwards and loved it. They said they loved seeing other people’s faces and knowing that those people were wishing they had a cart to ride on too.
The Marhaba service in Dubai is worth every penny even if you are a seasoned traveler and know your way around the Dubai airport. It is the biggest bang for your buck in getting the VIP treatment. Flying in business class can change the price of the ticket by thousands of dollars but for just around $100 got a ride to the airport and an escort to move the velvet rope to the side for us.
The kids wanted to grab a snack before getting on the flight which turned out to be a very good idea. And because of the Marhaba service we had plenty of time before our flight took off.
We had tons of laughs during this entire process. Traveling with kids can be a blast especially if you have someone to move the velvet rope to the side for you.