Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hello from Dubai

This place is an architect's dream, or nightmare, depending on what school you belong to. It's packed with amazing futuristic-looking skyscrapers, and where there are no buildings, there's construction going on. Not much greenery - which makes it feel a bit, I don't know, lifeless somehow.

We visited the Gold Souk yesterday - well one of them, which was like Aladdin's cave - back to back shops selling the most extraordinary-looking gold and diamond jewelry. One of the shop owners, a Russian man, told us that there is no import duty, tax, or 'Russian Mafia' to inhibit trade here, and gold is bought by weight, with the result being that things are a lot lot cheaper than back in London and most other Western cities. In between you have to avoid all the chaps who come up to you and offer 'Copy watches, Louise Vuitton handbags, and sunglasses' - basically the kinds of knock-offs you get in Hong Kong. We kept saying 'no, no, no thank you, no.' I felt a bit insulted - I mean, did I look like the sort of person who couldn't afford the real thing? OK, don't answer that.

By the way - big mistake going to the Souk in a knee-length dress, teamed with fair hair . I was openly stared at from start to finish. Not sure if I was a novelty, or my appearance was offensive.

We asked our concierge what we could do to have an authentic experience for this country, and he and the chap next to him simultaneously chimed 'Desert Safari.' Being from Africa, I immediately responded with: 'What animals do you see?' And he looked at me like I was an eejit, and said that we get taken out into the desert where we have a traditional dinner by campfire with traditional dancing, and we get to wear 'traditional dress.'

All my friends know my (annoying to some) love of dress-up, so I am looking forward to that immensely. We will also get to ride on camels - which is another one of those things I've always wanted to do. I have an 'English Patient' kind of fantasy going, though I'm hoping to god there are no Nazi's, plane crashes, or starving to death in a cave. Robert is hoping there will be no Ralph Fiennes.

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