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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013

Team Clark returns from winter meeting in the Arabian Peninsula

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Once each year, I take my staffers on a staff adventure (aka winter meeting) based on wherever in the world goes on sale. This year, it was Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the Arabian Peninsula for a little more than $900 roundtrip including junk fees.

I'd been to the Middle East twice before, but never to this this part. And let me tell you, it was eye opening. It's shocking to see the level of prosperity that exists there.

It would be like if Disney World built New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, D.C., Chicago, Dallas, and Houston, all in one place, all in 10 minutes. It was orderly, spotless, and run with a mind-numbing efficiency.

Everywhere you looked, you saw the enormous transfer of wealth we've created through our oil consumption and dependence.

I've never seen any place where that much money has been spent in a few years constructing thousands of highrises by the world's top architectural firms doing their masterpieces.

As just one example, you have the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. A few members of our party went up all the way up 122 floors to the observation deck. And that's not even the top of the building!

The Burj Khalifa also does a fountain show like at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and it's run by the same company that does it at the Bellagio.

Other favorite memories included my wife Lane and I skiing at an indoor artificial mountain. It was very odd to do that in the middle of the desert!

Then we went on to Abu Dhabi. Some of stayed in the heart of the city, while others went to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel where we got 3 nights for the price of 2.

While in Abu Dhabi, we went camel riding and dune bashing. For those who don't know dune bashing, it's where you get in these luxury SUVs and go riding across these huge sand mountains.

The best part of the trip overall? I got to introduce Lane to Garrett Popcorn at the Dubai Mall -- one of the Chicago chain's few international locations. That stuff is amazing!

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