Sunday, October 21, 2007


Immigration was a breeze. No words were exchanged; I just walked and handed over my shiny new blue Canadian passport. The Arab man in a dishdasha behind the counter took, glanced through it, and fed it through a machine, before picking a big peg and stamping my passport. It was given back to me, and I grabbed my bags and headed for fetching my baggage.

As I walked out of Immigration, I glanced back at the section called “Visa Delivery”. A long line of brown men stood impatiently, waiting their turn, while bored policemen dressed in green kept a wary lookout. In another world, that would also have been me in that line, waiting to collect a visa to enter the country. Yet now I just wave the magic Canadian passport and breeze through. Another Sri Lankan man dressed in blue overalls stood waiting with a cart, ready to help me with my luggage.

It’s a strange class system they have here. Brown, uneducated men from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India toil and slave to build the facilities for the Arabs to wine and dine and impress their white business clients, who then sign contracts worth millions to hire more brown workers for sub-minimum wage to build yet another imaginative piece of architecture. The road to Dubai is a highway through the sandy desert. It reminds one of the fact that stripped of all of its artificiality, Dubai could just have been another sand strewn city in the Middle East.Instead, Dubai is about exporting and selling dreams. People buy property because other people are buying property, and thus developers built yet more property. Right from the airport, to the shuttle ferrying me into the city, through huge billboards on the side of the road, all I saw were advertisements from the huge number of real estate on sale here. I had heard that over half the world's cranes were in Dubai, and it seemed to be true.Dubai's most famous landmark - the seven star hotel and the accompanying beach resort. I did think about staying here rather than my relative's place - I just didn't have the $4000 per night on hand.Almost missed this! The Burj Dubai, having now replaced the CN tower as the world's tallest free standing structure, in all it's glory.

I took the pictures from the back of a car, and haven't gone out yet (I am up wide awake in the middle of the night here, still going through jet lag). Hopefully, in the coming few weeks, I will get the chance to explore this fascinating city more.


Yawar said...

Did you used to live in Sharjah? I still have fond memories of that place. Pretty much grew up there. I'd love to go back and explore Dubai too though. From what I remember it's an interesting fusion of old and new. And one of my favourite things about Dubai--you get some awesome eating places. Man, that pita bread and hummous, and broiled chicken!

Waleed said...

Alright, Mezba. I enjoy reading your posts from time to time, but "Arab man in a dishdasha!" I've been to Dubai a few times, and I know that passport officers there DO NOT wear dishdasha. They wear a pant-shirt uniform.

Enjoy your stay in Dubai!

mezba said...

Yawar: I used to live in one of those countries. Not Dubai. The whole place now looks like one giant construction site.

Eating places - still have to explore a bit - yesterday went to Pizza Hut!

Waleed: EVERY single one of them wore a dishdasha and the women wore burkha.

Anonymous said...

You're in Dubai?? :O
- Athena

Farah said...

I have been to Dubai many times and it's always men in dishdashas at the passport thingy.

Did I tell you dishdasha man are dashing! :-P

Dubai has lots of good food places - make sure you try the Mexican shawarma at City Center, and oh... for sure go to Battutah mall.

youngMuslimah said...

salamalaikum, oh ur in the UAE...have fun! you used to live here right? what changes have you noticed? (i know there are many!)

youngMuslimah said...

go to mall of the emirates!!!! and zabeel park on sheikh zayed road, it's beautiful. dubai airport in itself is a beauty :)

mezba said...

Athena: yes!

Farah: mexican shawarma? now that is saying something. To tell you the truth I am rather keen on Pizza Hut - it is so much better than what we get at home - this is so fresh pizza and fresh vegetables and not to forget - meat!

That is one thing about food I don't miss from being in Canada - you don't have to worry about bacon or alcohol products in the food (unless you are eating at a Western hotel).

Youngmuslimah: I never lived in Dubai. I am just still getting used to the heat they call winter!

Suroor said...

Do eat at Asha Bohsle's reaturant called Asha's in Wafi Mall. The food may not be really great but the environment is pleasant and they play nice music.

Maliha said...

Have a safe and fruitful trip :) I hope to visit there someday...just to witness the madness that is western-"decadence"- emulation.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I went to Dubai during their *winter* too and my whole face turned red due to the heat ;)
The women at the airport now wear burkha as in face covering??I know they wear abbayas with full face make-up, lol, that's another thing I was amazed to see. Enjoy your stay and yes the food their is great, I even enjoyed McD's. sf

mousehunter said...

Enjoy! Actually the day you left, we had the most amazing weather!!! Shorts/T-shirt weather! See I'm a true canadian, going on about weather again!

Have a good one. BTW, if you happen to get to go the the Burj Al-Arab, try to sneak some pics of the Veyrons! Suroor says they have a few there.

'liya said...

Would love to see more pics, hope you're enjoying your stay! :D

youngMuslimah said...

It's not winter here! you're lucky to visit in oct, a month back it was so hot! usually all year round we have terrible afternoons.

sf: abayah is actually an arab tradition, so the emiratis cant really take it out. i wonder how many of them wear it as a 'hijab' and not a custom.

mezba said...

Suroor: Thanx! I will try to - I am just pressed for time to take a proper tour of Dubai - and this traffic jam is not helping!

Sf: They don't cover their face but many of them do wear the whole black burkha, leaving the face uncovered. I never knew it possible, but Emirati women actually make the burkha look sexy! Most of them pay proper attention to figure and fitness and wear smart looking burkhas with glittering lining with proper elegance and style, and apply makeup flawlessly.

Mousehunter: Haha I read that Oct 21 was the warmest on record. All this after I left, huh?

Liya: Thank you. I am trying to enjoy my stay to the fullest.

YoungM: ya but every day seems hotter than the next! I sometimes now wonder what is it about summer we so look forward to in Canada!