We landed in Dubai, UAE a few evenings past for a whirlwind three days of exploration in this very adult Disneyland on the Arabian Peninsula. We will do what we can to highlight the ordinary and extra-ordinary. This city of contrasts, made up of immigrants, tourists, and UAE citizens is testimony to the wildest architecture imaginable. I cannot express the magnitude of what lies before us. A dictionary full of World’s largest, World’s best, World’s – fill in any adjective you may choose -, and I’m sure it will NOT be descriptive enough.
It is HOT, HOT, HOT here in this city on the edge of the Persian Gulf in early July. The strategic Straights of Hormuz separates Iran from the United Arab Emirates by a scant thirty miles or so. The comedic attribution by Tina Fey to Sarah Palin of, “I can see Russia from my house,” nearly applies here. You almost can see Iran from your hotel on a clear day!
I am told the city has a population represented by 68% immigrant laborers, 12% tourist, and the remaining 20% are citizens of the UAE! This population is seen daily at any of the shopping malls, and on this Friday holiday of Eid al Fitr, marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, it is much more evident. We were at the beach near the Burj al Arab, and the mass of men here was simply astonishing. They were dressed not in beach attire, but rather in their daily long black pants and white shirts in heat of one hundred ten degrees and humidity of ninety percent! Thousands of beach goers strolling the sands with no visible intent other than to enjoy a day free from labor. Women were rarely in evidence. The scene was repeated at the famed Dubai Mall later that evening where men out numbered women 20 to one or more. Many cultures were observed along with their attendant customs. The one common denominator among all the people were their cell phones, tightly clutched and providing a constant documentary of every nano second of daily life magnified a few thousand times over. Generally an overall enjoyable day of observing a microcosm of the “new” globalism first hand! .