Alexander had a Tarutaru Red Mage Guardian, who was always helping people out getting past Dunes. It seemed like that was the only thing he ever did.
In the early days, Dunes was the best thing to get party play started. There was an overflow of people so even the bad / inexperienced ones could get a party. It was Boot Camp and most people learned to play the game there.
Later when the number of low level players went down and solo play became more interesting for a lot longer, the glory of the Dunes faded. New players missed the original Boot Camp and caused a lot more headaches at higher level parties.
I really hope that FFXIV will have a Dunes zone, but I fear this won't be the case since Squaresoft indicated that they will offer more casual solo play.