Since Dubai is known for its records of crazy things (tallest, fastest, highest, etc), Sony chose the world islands in Dubai as the location for this concept store. Another one for the records. However, it took 3 months of planning to get to today. The store was meant to launch yesterday but because of weather issues, which didn’t allow for final security checks, it took place today.
I was excited – and nervous from the time I received the invite because I don’t know how to swim. But it didn’t say swimming was a requirement. I also googled “do you need to know how to swim to scuba dive” (technically no) and watched YouTube videos of non-swimmers who went scuba diving. You know, ’cause the internet has answers to everything!
The event was around the Xperia Z3 range of devices, showing it’s underwater capabilities. So I took my Z3 Compact with me.
So the day finally arrives and on our way to the islands earlier, I just got really nervous. We were transferred there by yacht – and had an amazing view.
The South Africans: (l-r) Me, Ashvir, Jenna, Yendi (Sony), Carlinn.
After being briefed, we received training from scuba diving experts in a swimming pool. It took about 10 minutes per person. Yes! TEN!
The underwater store could only take 6 people at a time, so experts took us two at a time.
Reading that you will be fine and people telling you you will be fine is different to actually experiencing it. When I got into the water after practising in the swimming pool, I thought I’ll be ok.
As I made my way deeper, they told us there was not enough oxygen. So we went out and waited for it to be fixed. I considered not going at all because of this. But I didn’t.
As I was about to go underwater with the diving instructor – we had one-on-one experts with us all the time, which wouldn’t have been possible without them – I decided I couldn’t do this and started making my way back to shore.
During that short time I thought “wow, I came all the way to Dubai and I’m not going to experience this” so I told my instructor that I want to try again and let’s do it. I trusted him completely and went down. It was 3.2m down.
When I got in, the top quarter of the store was open and we could breath normally, which did feel weird.
Just floating about:
And just like that, the 10 minutes were up! My instructor then took me back to shore.
Sony wanted us to experience this as part of their brand engagement and awareness around the Z3 range of devices and its capabilities, which is what Spyros Gousetis told me, MD of Sony Mobile Middle East and Africa. The store is just a concept store today’s guests were the only ones to experience it.
This has definitely been a once a lifetime experience for me that I will never forget. I don’t know how to swim but I can say I visited the Xperia AquaTech store underwater! I’m glad that during those few seconds when I backed away, it made me realise that I had to go back and do it.
Thank you Sony, for such an amazing experience that I’ll never forget!
Apologies for the rushed post, I’m heading back to the world islands for a beach party.
EDIT: Thanks to Andrew Fraser from Sony South Africa for pics not credited by me.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org