Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday in Dubai: are we at the mall yet?


Friday and Saturday are the weekend days here, so, if you're not inclined to head to the local mosque for prayer and meditation, then there are only two other options: go to the beach or shop. We shopped, or pretended to.....

On the way to the mall, I got my first real view of the scope of the construction projects that are literally everywhere. In fact, the entire city and all surrounding areas are a vast construction site, quite literally. Roads torn up, half finished 50+story towers, and cranes cranes cranes as far as the eye can see. Construction workers---almost all Indian or Pakistani---in groups of five, ten, or twenty, along the roads or coming and going from one work site to another. Or being shuttled about in buses taking them from their ramshackle dwellings to work and back again. More on this later....

Not sure if Dubai has more square meters of shopping malls than Singapore, but the mall is a central feature of the public and commercial lives of these two tropical city-states. So, a trip here would not be complete without a shopping expedition at Dubai Mall. 1200 shops (yes, that's one thousand two hundred!), a spectacular three-story indoor aquarium, the largest candy store in the world, and the ticket booth for a ride to the 'top' of the Burj Khalifi, now the tallest building in the world.

I was hoping to snag a reserved ticket for the ride to the top of the Burj, but they were sold out through Monday and the 'stand-by' rate was over $100. Too costly for an elevator ride, so I passed.

I get mall fatigue after about 10 minutes, so we didn't linger at the mall for long and continued on with our tour of the beach and a drive through the Jumeirah and on to the famous Palm---a set of islands created by landfull to resemble the shape of a palm tree (from the air). From the ground, it was one look-alike building after another.

Everywhere we drove, new communities and commercial buildings going up, one after another after another. On first view, it's head-shakingly amazing.

Friday night ended around a firepit at the home of the bin Shabib twins, Rashid and Ahmed, and several local pals and one expat friend. And Didier and little ol' BobOnARoll. It was a great evening of chat about media and local gossip, rivalries with Abu Dhabi, entrepreneurism, Obama, terrorism, and trips to New York. Besides being educated in the US, the twins were, let us hope, part of the 20-something's vanguard of the new Middle East---traditional in many respects but open-minded, forward thinking movers and shakers. Gave me a lot of hope about possibilities, once guys my age and older hand it over to the next generation to try to turn around some of the mess we have made of it all.

Finally got home and to bed around 2am and very happy to be here.

No comments:

Post a Comment