Travelling to the UAE last April, we flew with Norwegian Airlines, a budget airline using Dubai Terminal 2.
According to the Dubai Airport website, the renowned Dubai Duty Free covers 5400 sq. metres of shopper’s paradise. Well, it’s certainly not located in Dubai Terminal 2. There’s only one shop in Terminal 2. A rather uninspiring one. That, and a few cafeterias. Equally uninspiring.
Take the airport bus or bullet train or whatever – and pop over to another terminal, you say? Well, there is an airport shuttle, but you’ll need time: Terminal 2 is half an hour away from Terminal 3. Not that that should deter you. Most flights from Terminal 2 are delayed. Very much delayed! You see, Dubai Terminal 2 is the departure point for flights to “bad”, obscure or dangerous places, often all three. And Oslo.
In Terminal 2, you don’t see the usual crowd of businessmen hunched over their laptops. Most seem to be migrant workers, aid workers or tired journos. And Norwegian tourists. Not many wheeled carry-ons here. Instead, worn holdalls, plastic bags and cardboard boxes abound. Held together by tape.
The notice board resembles a fascinating directory of unknown and exotic-sounding destinations. Ever heard of Gheshm? Or Ahwaz? Or Ashgabat? Or Bald? I’m especially fascinated by Kish. Kish appears on the board a lot. Where is Kish?
Reading like a list of the world’s most troubled spots, flights to Kabul, Kandahar, Mogadishu, Srinagar, Asmara, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Erbil take off from Terminal 2. On never-before-heard-of airlines like Queshm Fars Air, Nasair, Pamir Airways and Jubba Air. And of course, Kish Air. Many flights are on outdated Soviet Tupolev or Antonov aircraft. Some, like Ariana Afghan Airways, are banned from entering European Union air space.
The night we were there, the notice board showed all flights were delayed; some until the next day! It was almost midnight. The idea of spending 24 extra hours – or even 2 – in Dubai Terminal 2, seemed unbearable. Especially with a tired 7-year-old along. Then I noticed one flight that was not delayed. The only one: our flight to Oslo.
A year later, I still have an urge to go back to Terminal 2 and fly off to one of those unknown destinations, on one of those unknown airlines. Kish. It’s got to be Kish.
Update June 2010: Kish: Iran for beginners?
Turns out Kish is in Iran, and easily accessible from Dubai. Not only does Kish Air and Queshm Air fly regularly and frequently, there’s also a boat. Kish is a free trade zone and a resort island in the Persian Gulf. And while I’m not much of a resort person,, this seems to be an easy intro to Iran, with the possibility of staying for 14 days visa-free. Although as a Westerner, I may be sternly questioned as to the purpose of my visit.
Update 1 May 2020: It’s 10 years later…
… and I still haven’t made it to Kish. Nor have I flown any of the above-mentioned dubious airlines. BUT – I have flown other airlines I had never heard of. And I have been to Ashgabat.
I’ll get back to y’all in 2030.
Photo of Dubai Terminal 2 courtesy of dubaiairport.com