Dubai’s terminal 2 is the gateway to Satan’s bottom.
Unless you’ve had a reason to visit Baghdad, or Kabul, or Baku or Kish or any one of a dozen similar places that will never appear on a list of top tourist destinations, chances are you’ve never heard of Dubai’s terminal 2.
You look at the departure board in Terminal 1 and you see flights leaving for London, or Sydney, or Singapore or any one of dozens of comforting destinations. Look at the departure board of Terminal 2 and you see places you wouldn’t send your worst enemy — he’s there already.
You actually have to leave the airport to get from Terminal 1 to 2. There is allegedly an internal transfer, but I’ve never found it. So after leaving the cosmopolitan transit hall of 1 via possibly the world’s most expensive taxi ride, getting your passport stamped in and out, you end up in the strange place that is Terminal 2.
You can’t stop yourself from weighing up your fellow travelers. Many are returning nationals, some clearly novice travelers, in mufti and with luggage made up mostly of heavily wrapped red, white and blue bundles — the Gucci for pilgrims.
It is definitely the terminal to Islamic destinations, and many of the passengers are outwardly Muslim, but there is also a representation of the former Soviet central Asian states in bad shiny suits and imitation Italian loafers.
Terminal 2 used to be not much more than a glorified hangar. but its been upgraded and now boasts a duty fre shop and a McDonalds — the last Big Mac for thousands of miles. Most of the customers are American contractors on nation-building exercises, many of them ex-armed forces and now working in security, and they buy burgers by the dozen to take with them — takeout to be delivered thousands of miles away.