Saturday, October 17, 2009
To Buy...in Dubai
So this last weekend I was in the Middle East-Dubai to be exact-for a teacher training course for the British exam board I teach (Cambridge International Examinations). The course was useful. The time in Dubai was excellent; that was surprising because previously I was skeptical about the idea of building a megatourist destination in the middle of a desert. Absolute arrogance, I thought, mentally comparing it to the notorious Biblical Tower of Babel.
Instead I was impressed with the absolute ease of the city. The people were mainly not Arabs. Instead they were a mishmash of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangalis, Asians, all laboring together in various blue collar jobs. Hopping into taxis and conversing with the chatty Asian drivers was simple. Shopping at their megamalls with every type of designer store you can dream of was equally simple.
Even better were the souks. Visiting an old covered soul near the "Creek" (the Dubai name for their huge river) brought me back a taste of Bangladesh and I felt like Princess Jasmine stepping into an Arabian Nights tale. Men in punjabis held up beaded skirts and pashminas against me, telling my how lovely I looked. One Indian succeeded in selling me a chiffon belly dancing belt covered in jangling coins. Since coming back to Tanzania I've put it to good use with my "Learn to Belly Dance" dvd.
Another souk shop owner from Kerala, South India, befriended me and presented me with a designer Fendi wallet because he wanted "a friend in the United States." Afterwards he tried to kiss me, so I suspect he wanted more than friendship.
Overall, Dubai impressed me as the best planned and maintained city not in the West that I've ever visited. Would I go back to that Arabian fairy tale of a city? In a heartbeat!