Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset

Last week I had the pleasure to travel to Dubai,  and after this incredible trip I wish everyone under 30 could visit, or work, to experience  what is happening in the world,  the blending of  multiple cultures living together to produce economic prosperity. Looking at a map, it is situated on the Persian Gulf, across from Iran, next to Oman, Qatar. Dubai is part of the UAE, the seven United Arab Emirates,  a leader in financial banking,  natural resources, and is one of the busiest ports in the world. In the past 30 years it has gone through a development like no other city. It is an architectural and engineering masterpiece, leading beauty and design, a city of lights in the evening with palm tree lined boulevards and fountains. I learned to appreciate the modern beautiful Arabian woman, both fashionable and conservative.

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Old and New

Old and New

Home of the largest and most elaborate shopping malls in the world, sophisticated, and inspiring. Dubai Mall has 1200 stores, waterfalls, an aquarium and ice rink, and the Galleries Lafayette has a Shoe Garden that represents every designer and style. Mall of the Emirates has a ski slope, chair lifts,  live penguins, and is like Tysons in DC, or Yorkdale in Toronto, on steroids. All the malls have a section of traditional Souks. Then there are the streets of the ancient Souks for textiles, gold, and spices in adjoining sections of the city to wander through and bargain. The fun is in making the deal…don’t rush! Everyone has time!

Spice Market

Spice Market

Textile Market

Textile Market

The airport duty free shop is the most successful in the world having sales of $1.64 billion in 2012 in 26,000 square ft. I did some damage there! Two of the most beautiful golf courses right in the city where the top professional golfers play. AMWAY was having their golf tournament while I was there!

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel

Mall Ski Entertainment

Mall Ski Entertainment

I went to my alma mater and introduced myself to the staff and was thrilled by the enthusiasm and service. “Where are you from and how long have you been in Dubai” is a typical question as 80% of the population is from somewhere else around the world and they are there to work. No one gets a visa unless they are employed or married to someone who has a job. Workers are from Pakistan, the Philipines, Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, Bahrain, India,  just to name a few. Cranes are everywhere, building new skyscrapers. The Marriott has plans to build the tallest hotel. My plane was filled with US contractors  from government or private companies going to work. It is safe, less crime than any city, no taxes, completely international and tolerant of all cultures. English is spoken  and easy to get around.

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Building Graphics

Building Graphics

 

Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid and his father had a vision, invested the money (oil), and continues to grow and change. Built on a desert,  the tallest building in the world the Burg Khalifa and the Palm is being completed and islands forming the world are being sold. Water resourcing and irrigation  is a topic to study here. Every plant has a hose as the earth is sand.

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WOMEN IN THE NEWS:
International Women’s Day was celebrated around the world March 8th. We were recognized every place we went and all women received roses. Somehow I had no idea how important this was globally. A bit underplayed in the US.  Hallmark where are you?

I learned about the Abaya, the black robe that the women wear when outside their homes, and the scarf and face veils. There is a lot of freedom of expression both in how much of the face is covered, and the style of dress.  I was  conscious of not taking pictures of people as I did not want to be rude but saw many women, especially the younger women with fancy Abaya’s decorated with beading, sequins, braid and embroidery.  Dressing modestly and determining the style is a personal choice.   Visting the Jumierah Mosque, we learned the 5 pillars of faith and the teachings for cultural understanding. There are 1.9 million people practicing the Muslim faith and 15% of those are Arabs.  Lots of competition for Pope Frances, who has to make his numbers ( selling Catholicism) to the world.

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Will I go back…in a few years to see the progress.  In the meantime, there is a direct plane from Boston because of the ‘medical tourist’ and educational exchanges. A second larger airport just opened in Dubai…more duty free goods to sell to more customers and second homes (snowbirds) purchased by the Brits and Europeans .  Only a few hours plane ride away…you gotta go!