Well, we're in Dubai. My wife stepped off the plane and said, "holy s***!", and rightfully so. It's striking, but HOT. Also, within 15 minutes you're hit with culture shock. I asked about our bags, the man blinked and replied, "they will be in your room, sir", then we were shuttled (past customs) to a VIP lounge (massive plasma screens showing soccer and Bloomberg financial news, open bar, and tables loaded with snacks), where we had a drink and they took our passports and had them stamped. No x-rays, no frisking, no questions.
Our security guys (aka. the Twin Towers) are waiting for their temporary security and CWP clearance, which should be good by morning, so I've been told, and we'll be ready to roll. "If you're a foreigner you can't get a gun permit in the UAE!" Oh yes you can, but first you need to be authorized as a US military/security contractor. (They seem to scare the hell out of most people here, in contrast with Europe where they were largely ignored.)
I don't even want to mention the hotel... "Over the top" doesn't cover it, and the room is completely nuts.
Every piece of visible metal is gold plated, all other surfaces are solid wood or marble. We have a maid, a butler, and a driver, they came with our accommodations package, I didn't actually request them. That's what I get for just skimming the brochure. Funny story. I had no idea what the exchange rate was, and I still had euros, so I've been tipping the people helping us 10-20 euros each. Well, I found out that's about an order of magnitude too much. Oops. Obviously, sheiks and mullahs are really cheap b*stards, despite what we saw in Cannonball Run.