Finally Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

“But it’s too late, baby, now it’s too late” – Carole King.
“Forever, ever delayed” – Richey James Edwards.
“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay” – Alanis Morrisette.

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For "GlobCom"

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Glory days unloyal here. Not everything in this life works out. We forfeit, we miss, regret and this was one. You see in September 2023 I finally stepped out in Abu Dhabi. In fact, in September 2023, I was here in Abu Dhabi TWICE in the same month, both times getting a passport stamp in and out. Both times backpacking the city. Alas, I was 15 years too late for that. This was my 2008 dream that I couldn’t quite afford and here I was backpacking it cheap courtesy of Wizzair’s new connections. I reflected this week on my days at Bournemouth University since it was 20 years ago on Friday 26th September 2003 that I left my home country selfishly behind. I wrote a sentimental post about that – How My Life Changed 20 Years Ago Today , so here’s another one. Within all that madness, a sponsored trip to Abu Dhabi fell by the wayside. Back in 2008.

“Phil Babb won’t want it replayed too many times again” – Clive Tyldsley.

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For "GlobCom"

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

But hold on – my 2008 dream was actually a FREE trip? How was that possible? How could I turn it down? It was a sponsored trip to Abu Dhabi in 2008 and I said no! That’s right – back in 2008 when this travel blog had only just turned 1 year old, I was offered a sponsored 3 day trip to Abu Dhabi, which included food, accommodation and tours and I didn’t even need to blog about it or promote it back then. That is because it was part of GLOBCOM.

My classmate Summer Parkin Represents Bournemouth At Globcom 2008

What on earth is Globcom?

Globcom is a Global Communications Project. Globcom stands for Global Communications and here is their website. The Global Communications Project is an international project run by 13 universities of 13 countries in 5 continents. The participating students will be in their 2nd or 3rd year. By that stage, I was actually in my 8th year (or something) and I was studying International Public Relations at Bournemouth University. I was in Team 4 and we teamed up online with fellow GlobCom members from USA, Spain, Italy, Germany, South Africa, UAE, Portugal and Australia.

Globcom Team in 2008

About 7 to 10 international teams are formed. Each team gets the same PR briefing and has to develop a presentation of a PR problem – as in a real pitch – which has to be presented at the end of the project. The virtual teams collaborate however they can, and using the interactive tools of the Globcom website as well as E-Mail, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and other means of their choice. We used MSN messenger and email back then.

Globcom Team in 2008 and I graduated

Globcom Team in 2008 – my Bournemouth University Login

And I, back in those days was a student at Bournemouth University in Dorset, England. In those days, at University, I studied Public Relations, DJ-ed on Nerve Radio, wrote for the Nerve Magazine and did Welcome Events for the Students Union. It was a fast paced life in my sunny sunny Bournemouth days. I was full of energy, and my degree there ended in 2008. That’s when I graduated from Bournemouth University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations. A degree during which I broke my leg, my arm and still managed to backpack through 33 countries and attend over 200 live football matches.

Can you get a degree after doing all this?

But it came with a price – I missed GLOBCOM. I did have my say on international events though, as I was invited to the National Students Awards in Loughborough in 2005, where I collected two gongs for Bournemouth University in a packed booze-fuelled arena.

Jonny Blair in Loughborough England

Representing Bournemouth Nerve Media at the NASTAs in Loughborough University England

The NASTAs - National Student Awards in Loughborough

The NASTAs – National Student Awards in Loughborough

Why did I miss Globcom?

I was too busy and I couldn’t afford it. That’s right – I couldn’t afford a FREE trip. Because to go on that free trip meant taking 5-6 days off work on unpaid leave, so it would actually have cost me £300 in wages, plus an extra £200 in personal spending money, yet the trip itself was free, sponsored and quite the dream. This was definitely a regret. Below are the emails just before the trip. Initially I said yes and was ready to do it, but work just took over, plus the fact that I backpacked through Italy and Slovenia on a Northern Ireland away trip in October 2008 as well…

The time I didn’t go to Globcom in Abu Dhabi

UAE Fake Travel Report Part 2: The Time I Didn't Go to Abu Dhabi and Dubai

The Time I Didn’t Go to Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Right now, as I look back, I feel an incomplete hat-trick below –

Bournemouth University Awards Appearances -✅✅✅ (2004, 2005, 2005 – I won 5 awards)
UK National Students University Awards Appearances – ✅(2005 – We won 2 awards)
Global University Awards Appearances -❌(2008 – I was invited and skipped it)

“We let love get lost in anger, chasing yesterday” – Noel Gallagher.

Bournemouth University Nerve Media Awards 2005

In the years after Globcom had faded away, I of course had my degree qualification now in Public Relations. I’d later get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, my Customer Service (Global), First Aid (Global), Gambling Licence  (Australia) and Bar Licence (Australia) and do language courses in Spanish (in Montevideo, Uruguay), Polish (in Gdansk and Warszwa, Poland) and even Cantonese (at the University of Hong Kong). It was around 2014 that I started to meet people who told me they were doing “Erasmus” and I hadn’t a clue what it meant. It was yet another thing I had missed. There was no “Erasmus” when I studied at Bournemouth University. Globcom was the nearest I had to that, and even it was only a short business trip – it wouldn’t have meant living abroad. On the flipside, an Erasmus girl inspired me and will feature in a future book. I still regret missing GlobCom.

What happened at Globcom?

My university colleague Summer Parkin went and met all the other GlobCom members in Abu Dhabi in Autumn 2008. All of my other university colleagues also missed Globcom, for similar reasons to me, apart from the lovely Summer Parkin. Summer studied with me. She was a fine, well spoken girl from the Channel Island of Jersey. Saving the Bournemouth University bacon, Summer thankfully went and represented us. I wasn’t on the project with Summer, instead I was on a project with Humayan Qureshi who was also on my course. I’m pretty glad that Summer went, as without her, our university had no representative, but it should have been me joining her.

“We’ve got that Summer Parkin” 

summer parkin in UAE

Summer Parkin speaking at Globcom in UAE in 2008. The trip I missed…

The GlobCom trip also included the meals in the hotel, and some cultural trips including out to the desert, mosque and museum visits. I missed all that to earn some money working in a theater and on ferries. What madness.


My former University Colleague Summer Parkin and the Globcom group in the UAE, in 2008.

Thanks to Summer for sharing her photos, and of course making me jealous. But even if I missed Globcom in 2008, I must have been to Abu Dhabi since then right?? I mean, 200 plus countries into a journey and surely one of them included Abu Dhabi…no. 2023 was my debut here.

Why did I not visit Abu Dhabi until 15 Years Later?

Your guess is as good as mine, because I have travelled a hell of a lot in those 15 years and I have passed through the Middle East so many times, yet not once was I ever in Abu Dhabi – not even the airport!! Conversely, my brother Marko and Dad Joe have both been to Abu Dhabi long before I finally did!! In that time, I had been to Sharjah (twice), Dubai (four times), Doha (five times), Saudi Arabia (twice), Palestine (thrice), Israel (four times), Jordan (twice) plus once each in Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iran and Iraq. And here, on a quiet morning in September 2023, I finally landed in Abu Dhabi. And the first thing I did was not backpack the city, but have a coffee and a croissant in the airport!!

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For "GlobCom"

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

After that, I sorted out a bus ticket which was harder than I expected in Abu Dhabi. You see in Sharjah and Dubai, I had been able to pay in cash or by card on the bus. Here in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, you cannot pay for the bus, on the bus! You need to buy a card. However the machine operating the cards inside the airport was out of order and the driver wouldn’t let me board. What a bad welcome after 15 years of waiting! The card is called Hafilat and I finally got one and backpacked the city.

I finally got my Abu Dhabi bus card, 15 years too late!

I finally got my Abu Dhabi bus card, 15 years too late!

I was more sentimental here in Abu Dhabi than I expected and I felt lonely. I didn’t really want to backpack the sights. The Ferrari Museum and The Grand Mosque are probably the two main sights. I passed them by, in the Mosque’s case I passed it by twice, by bus. Instead, I strolled along the promenade, grabbed a coffee, chilled out (in 40 degree heat) and pondered in the shining sun. This wasn’t a town I’d feel at home in, but I knew I was 15 years too late. It was the third out of the seven United Arab Emirates that I have visited having already been multiple times in each of Sharjah and Dubai. I’m only left to dream what might have been. Who knows if Globcom would have opened up different doors for me and converted my path. Maybe I would never have backpacked in Taiwan and made it to the Don’t Stop Living Globe? Wasn’t that one on route to the 100 countries later story?

My travel buddy Natalja by the “Don’t Stop Living” globe in Xinying, Taiwan

DSL globe xinying

The Don’t Stop Living Globe in Xinying, Taiwan

As I flew out of Abu Dhabi that day, it was time for another adventure. Here are some of the images I took on my stopover there…

5 Ways to Kill Time During a Layover in an Airport

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

Backpacking In Abu Dhabi: 15 Years Too Late For “GlobCom”

“Stay young and invincible because you know just what you are” – Noel Gallagher.

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