Dubai World Cup: Querying the Queues


Yesterday was the Dubai World Cup.  Along with 50,000 other people I went along to the racecourse to socialise and take in some of the atmosphere.

We knew the traffic would be bad and it lived up to expectations. We’d booked a taxi and pre-booked and already collected our tickets (thanks Jaymster) to the International Village where they served alcohol.  The taxi dropped us off about 500 metres walk to the entrance which was not too bad considering the afternoon sun and me wearing a suit.  We arrived at about 4.20 which we thought was reasonable as the bar opened at 4 and the first race was not till 5.  The gates opened at 2 but hardly anyone was there at that time because you could not get a drink. 

The queue to get in was incredible.  Some people were waiting in the queue for 90 minutes – no toilets, no water and very warm weather.  I’ve read that others were in the queue for more than 2 hours and then some needed to add another hour if they had not already picked up their tickets. 

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As with any queue, there is a choke point and any processing system improvement consultant will tell you to work on these points to streamline the flow.  The choke point was the security system with two airport security devices for people to walk through for the 10,000 people trying to get in.  When it was my turn, I placed my mobile phone in my jacket – put it on table on the side of the machine, walked through and then picked up my jacket.  No-one checked the jacket.  I must have looked honest.  Girls with handbags were checked in a different queue.  It makes the current problems with Heathrow look relatively tame. 

The reasoning was to protect the dignatories.  My initial thought of the security was to protect us from terrorists and that this was crazy as someone could just walk up to the queue and cause carnage before the security system.  But the real issue was to protect the rich and famous inside.  It makes me relish the excellent systems in place for AFL football in Melbourne with 100,000 people filling in to the MCG.  Lots of gates for entering, minimal security checks (checking bags mainly for alcohol), and easy ticket collection.

We spent most of the time at the Bubble Lounge.  Champagne was only French- it cost a bomb – 500 dirhams or 160 Australian dollars for the cheapest bottle – and you could not buy a beer inside that particular enclosure.  The insiders were only interested in socialising – the hats were fantastic, the dresses very nice, the fillies were quite noice as well Kimmie (Australian cultural TV joke) and we spent some time deciphering tattoos.  Oaks Day in Melbourne revisited!

We did see the horses occasionally but as no gambling was allowed, the horse racing was more of a distraction rather than the main event.  Apparently Curlin won the main race but I was in the queue at the toilets at the time. 

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Of course, there was another queue to catch a taxi coming home.  None of these guys had ever seen how to arrange a taxi queue at a major airport and so you had only two or four cabs being filled with people whereas you could have easily had 16 to 20 cabs being filled at a time.  Only 35 minutes in the taxi queue as we left straight after the main race.

I’ve been here two weeks now and it seems that this epitomises Dubai in some respects.  Fantastic facilities, very modern but that some things are still not properly bedded down with inappropriate regulations or operations. 

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