Here are some more scenes and descriptions of our experience in Dubai.
Outdoor Life… After Dark
I love how this city comes alive after dark. They don’t seem to differentiate between night and day here, or maybe they do but day becomes night. The town’s energy really ramps up when the sun goes down. When looking at movie times there were some movies that started at 1:45 am. We could get tickets to go up the Burj Khalifa at 11 pm. The markets are open until 11 pm. The computer repair that is trying to breahte new life into my computer is open until 10 pm. When we arrived on Sunday we were having dinner at 9:30 pm. and the grocery store, pharmacy, and spa were all open. Deliveries were taking place as if it was 3 in the afternoon. The convenience store across from our hotel (not in a very busy area, mind you) is open 24 hours a day.
Diversity of People
There are so many different people here. It’s a city of expats, for sure. Indians make up 50% of the population, native UAE citizens make up only 15% of the total population here. Movies are playing in the following languages: French, Malayalam, Hindi, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Tagalog, Arabic, Egyptian (who knew that was a separate language?), Kannada and of course, English. You could sit and watch the people at the malls all day long, there are just so many different “flavors”.
The UAE is definitely a Muslim country. No doubt about that. For the girls and I, this is the first time visiting a Muslim country so we are fascinated. We hear the calls to prayer, we see the conservative dress, we experienced the very vanilla TV and movie choices, and censored internet. Zoe could not play Jump Start due to it not being allowed through the country’s censorship filter. (Who knew Jump Start was so subversive!!). I was not able to listen to or view any messages that came through Voxer while we’ve been here. Haley was not able to make calls over wifi. Although we used WhatsApp without any troubles, we hear it’s not permitted here so perhaps if we had not already downloaded it we would not have been able to use it. These were just a lot of “wow” moments for us.
Safe, No Crime
The flip side of the above coin is Dubai is perhaps the safest city of it’s size in the world. (Don’t quote me… but I wouldn’t be surprised.) They have VERY high fines for breaking the law. We saw a sign that warned that running a red light or creating a scenario in which the tram must be stopped can result in fines up to 30,000 AED (US$8100) and it will result in your driver’s license being revoked and your car impounded. Yikes!!! Big change from South Africa. One of our drivers told us that it’s very hard to get a diver’s license here. He said that most people fail the test 5-10 times before being issued a license. I did notice how everyone seems to drive very calmly. The exception to that was in the desert on the dunes, but that’s a story for the next blog post.
Awesome Movie Theaters
Dan and I went to see a movie while the girls hung out at the gaming place. We didn’t see the same movie because we were at separate malls. It’s a long story, but it worked out great and we both got to experience Dubai movie theaters. Dan didn’t pay too close attention to his ticket and had not yet internalized the currency, so he ended up getting a “Platinum” movie ticket for $40. FORTY US DOLLARS!!!!!! But evidently, it was like sitting in your own first class airline cabin, complete with a comfy pillow, silk blanket and quick service from waiters and waitresses that look like bellman from The Four Seasons. Even the 3D glasses looked like they were made by Wayfarer. It also had individual private bathrooms with gold fixtures, actual towels for drying your hands, a spray nozzle for intimate clean up as well as a bidet… the whole nine yards. To top it off, he was reunited with his beloved caramel popcorn from Mexico. I thought I had paid a lot for my ticket at US$18 (and got $15 in credit at the game place). But that was nothing comparatively. #thrifty
Retail: Want for Nothing
You can find absolutely anything you need here. Anything. The stores are endless. I found my beloved Tylenol and Advil that I have not seen since Mexico. Yeah, I’m easy to please. We saw so many American restaurant chains, we had a hard time deciding whether to try new, local foods or eat at our favorite chains. We mostly did the latter.
Speaking of Food
I wish we could have had more meals here. The options were endless. The food court at the mall saw a fair amount of the Shermanos – food courts are always good for families with such a variety of desires and opinions about food as we have in our family. But the Indian place down the street from our hotel also got to know us pretty well. After we all had Chicken Tikka Masala the first night, we could not get enough of it and it became our late night dinner 4 times. Indian food seemed to be the predominate food here. When we went on a desert safari, dinner was included and it was Indian food. I did not mind, I love Indian food. Dan heard them say “BBQ” and went running toward the buffet but it wasn’t what he was used to. He liked it well enough, though.
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