Inside one mall, you can ski down an 85 metre slope — about the height of 25 storeys — perfectly snow-clad, all year round, even if the temperature is pushing 50°C outside. In another, you can get in a protective cage and, wetsuits and breathing gear in place, feed sharks, even as experienced divers draw them to you. In a third location, you can experience the thrill of sky diving, without being anywhere near the sky or even jumping, forget about diving — the wind tunnel doing all the work for you.
This is Dubai, where the premium is on gratification and customer satisfaction, even as authenticity dies quietly in a corner.
That’s why it simply does not feel right that the Asia Cup 2018 is being played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, cricketing venues that have come up more recently, while Sharjah has got the cool shoulder (There is no such thing as a cold shoulder in this region, air-conditioning notwithstanding).
The Asia Cup reflects this dichotomy perfectly. No cricket would have been played in this desert had it not been for Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, who put Sharjah on the global cricket map.
Actually, that does him little justice. He brought cricket to the region in the early 1980s when most international cricketers could not find the region on a map.