Sunday, March 1, 2009
Dubai - Down by the Dubai Creek/Souks
Downtown Dubai is separated by a creek. Creek is kind of an understatement...it is more like a river. At one time you could walk across it during low tide, but now it is a major thoroughfare. Evidently it takes less time to cross the creek by dhow (boat) than to go over the bridges (the traffic is horrendous there - really, really bad!). The dhows run as creek taxis, tourist vessels and also import/export. These dhows will actually sail to other countries in the Middle East, India, Africa, etc., laden with anything from spices to food to electronic equipment. They were amazing to look at.
Every country we go to, I have to mentally steele myself for how they will react to Lily. Having never really been to the Middle East, I wasn't sure what kind of reaction I was in for. Just as in Asia, we saw very few...in fact NO people, let alone children, with any disabilities around. She was a novelty. All the shop keepers in the souks (like marketing districts - i.e. gold souk, textile souk, spice souk, etc...) would shout out to her "hello Baby!" and want to pinch her cheeks. There were others that would just stare...and follow us. Then there were the brave few that would come up and take pictures of her...and even video of her. She is very tolerant of this. Perhaps because I have told her that they think she is so beautiful that they just HAVE to have a picture of her to keep for themselves. :o) You should see her brothers move in to circle her when videographers start moving in. They are great big brothers.
Dubai itself is a huge metropolis that is undercontruction at every level and in every corner of the city. The results will be phenomenal, but there is still a long ways to go. They have flowers and green grass....growing in sand with irrigation hoses criss crossing everywhere. They use more water than any other city in the world and 97% of it is desalinated water from the Persian Gulf (or Arabian Gulf as they call it).
The tall skinny building in one of the pictures is the Burj Dubai, the highest building in the world. The amazing thing is there are cranes hanging off the top of it....Evidently the inside is going to be decorated by Georgio Armani. Also, speaking of cranes....I could barely take a picture without 4 or 5 cranes in the frame. It was absolutely mind-boggling to see the sheer number of cranes there. I heard once that 20% of the world's cranes are in Dubai. I would definitely support that theory!
Just a by the by tidbit of info...there are no dryers in Dubai. Even in our apartment in the hotel, we had a washer and no dryer. So clothes being hung out everywhere is common place.
The Arabic smoking pipes...shisha pipes or hubbly bubblies, were interesting to see. In open air cafes, they had people sitting out there smoking them. They were supplied by the restaurants. Evidently they have flavored tobacco that has water added somehow. The smoke is very fruity-smelling...not like cigarettes. Men and women smoke them.
The population of Dubai is very diverse. We heard that only about 20% of the population is actually Emirate. There are a lot of expats...and tons of third country nationals. This playground for the rich is most definitely being built on the back of the poor that were imported to do very hard and tedious labor. It was winter in Dubai and the temperatures were hovering in the upper 80's. The summers must be absolutely unbearably hot. My brother, Craig, lived here for 8 months (and through the summer, I might add)and he said it was incredibly hot and humid. Something about his diet coke reaching a boiling point in his car parked in the sun rings a bell to me.... Definitely a winter 'hot spot' to visit! That semi-circular enclosement in one of the pictures is of a bus stop...they are airconditioned! Anyhow, back to the people...most are Muslim...and there is a mix of those who wear traditional dishdashas for the men (the long white robes)and headdresses and those wearing business suits. Many of the women wear the black abaya and head scarf called a shyla. Most of the women also were wearing veils. However, there were plenty of western women walking around in conservative clothing (crop pants rather than shorts and covered shoulders). I am an avid people-watcher and really enjoyed seeing the different cultures represented in Dubai.
Posted by Cyndi at 6:18 PM