So this was interesting.
I flew into Abu Dhabi a couple of days ago for some meetings, and drove down to Dubai for a few unscheduled ones. Not being sure what my exact plans were and when my meetings would be, I left my return flight open. Anyhow; finished everything I needed to do and took a cab over to Dubai Airport.
As it goes, I asked the cab to head to Terminal 1. Pretty much everyone that I know has only had to deal with Terminal 1; we didn't even know where that second terminal was, and the only thing that gave proof of it's existence was a couple of signs on the main road saying "Terminal 2". I mean, even last year, the airport was expanded through the building of the super-massive Terminal 3. After you go through passport control, you can actually walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. But where is Terminal 2? No one knows.
So as it goes, I walked into Terminal 1 and asked for a the next available flight to Bahrain, on whatever airline was available. The information desk mentioned FlyDubai had a flight in about 90 minutes. "Great stuff, where can I get a ticket?" and this is where I was directed to head to Terminal 2.
Now even though i've never physically been there, I figured Terminal 2 was a couple of minutes away, considering Terminal 3 is less than a few mins away. Took a cab, asked for Terminal 2, and the guy kept driving. Driving. Driving. We got on the main road, and he kept going.
I said, "Umm, I meant DUBAI Terminal 2 by the way, not some other random airport" to the taxi driver, who explained to me it was almost 25 minutes away.
Huh? Okay then...
Just under half an hour later, we got to Terminal 2 and I rushed to the FlyDubai counter to get my ticket, and ran to make it just in time before check-in closed. Passed immigration control, and this is pretty much when I started to notice weird things. Well honestly, they were quite amusing at first till I figured out what was actually going on;
First thing I actually noticed was the Indian traveler loading his bags into the scanner; this was the one he was to carry with him on the plane. It was a big see-through plastic bag, filled with a large piece of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, some other vegetables, and what appeared to be some very random items of clothing. I mean, you'd usually expect to see people putting the weirdest items into cargo, rather than take them as carry-on's, but whatever.
Getting in to the waiting area, everything seemed normal; the regular Duty Free shops, your standard Costa Cafe, etc. But then there was a police officer walking by with two tall black males in handcuffs. There was also a long line of South Asian immigrant, who wouldn't look too out of place in that 'Slumdog Millionaire' movie, with the rags they were dressed in and their luggage, all carried in either huge plastic bags, or cardboard boxes. Then a group of African guys who looked like they could be warlords from Somalia or Congo (minus the guns). And then some Al-Qaeda looking characters. On top of that, to totally break the scenery, a group of three tall white Americans, dressed in what looked like as kevlar body armor; obviously some sort of soldiers.
When you see one or two of these sorts of characters in any given place, you don't really think about it too much. Stopping to see every shady character stereotype from the region in one place, however, makes you stop and think. Where am I again?
This definitely wasn't your typical airport; the background and scenery looked normal, but then, there weren't any of those familar businessmen in their suits on their laptops. I didn't see the typical tanned European tourist in bermuda shorts and slippers. None of your ordinary, average-joe type travelers, no. They were all hijacked and replaced with what seemed to be the damned of the Earth. Take the poorest of India, Afghanistan's most wanted, and the warlords of Africa, and add in some Amercian mercenaries. Put them in one place, and you've got the makings of Terminal 2. Besides the new FlyDubai, all other airlines were ones i've never heard of, and most destinations were totally unfamiliar territory:
Geshm, Kish, Arlanda, Abadan. Where are these places? Apparently my geography wasn't as good as I thought it was. I found my gate on FlyDubai - the people here seemed a little more normal-looking; and I did a bit of a search on the terminal. Turns out this place was built for flights to the 'worst' destinations in the region; stuff that you wouldn't really want to mix in with the glamor of Dubai's Terminal 1 and 3. Many flights go out to Afghanistan, Djibouti, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran. You have Head hunters, American soldiers and mercenaries. You have the Slumdog Millionaire and Hotel Rwanda movies cast right out infront of you. All of this together is pretty good reason Dubai Airport (well, Terminal 2 specifically) was labeled "the most dangerous airport in the World". Definitely the makings of a movie here.
It's not hard to see why FlyDubai decided to base their HQ here; they are a budget airline, and i'm guessing Dubai airport doesn't charge a whole lot in comparison to the glamorous T1 & T3. I guess that has partly had something to do with the full renovation of the Terminal last year, and in comparison it doesn't look bad at all, less the passengers. Further readings show that this place was a total mess before-hand. Now, it looks nice and glossy at first, until you see who you're surrounded with; a bit of an oxymoron, kind of like the city of Dubai itself. I wish I could have seen this place a few years back; might have been a lot more 'authentic'. I don't think I would have been surprised to see passengers carrying chickens in with them. Actually considering all I saw yesterday, I don't think that would have looked too out of place.
This definitely warrants another visit back. If just to take photos, at least.
Not an actual pic from the airport, but it felt like it kinda looked like this
If the concept got you interested, here's a few more posts I found on Terminal 2: