Monday, February 18, 2008

Dubai - Not all that or a bag of chips

I just got back from Dubai and I’ve got to say, “It’s good to be home.” For all of you who love Dubai , I apologize in advance if I may offend you by the following post. I know there are a lot of great things to say, but…

I don’t think Dubai is all that.

There is some kind of odd sub-culture going on there. It is a melting pot of nationalities and ethnicities – all out shopping at the same malls – and most of them just downright rude. I experienced a strange phenomenon: It could have been just me, but regardless of where I was walking, it seemed as though people walked towards me, in my direction, in an attempt to run into me. I’m a MAGNET! I actually started asking people, “Excuse me, but am I invisible?” I don’t get it. I could have been in the middle of an atrium, all alone, and then some Indian guy would make a B-line in my direction and literally walk right into me. WTF – am I involved in a game called, “Bumper Desert Girl” when the purpose of the game is to bump into ME? It wasn’t just one nationality, either. I head-butt an elderly Emirati woman; I was poked in the ass by a Jordanian’s shopping cart (4 times) waiting in line for a taxi (my ass can be used as a weapon of mass destruction and I catapulted his cart on the 4th time, halfway across the mall); I was crashed into with an (unspecified origin) Arab man’s baby in his trolley – then again by his wife pushing baby #2 in yet another trolley; numerous run-ins by non-discript Asian and Indian people. Is it just me? Does this happen to other people visiting Dubai? Am I so indistinguishable that I have become invisible to other humans? I don’t get it.

Plus, I swearaGod, if one more person had spoken to me in Russian, I would have kicked some former-communist ass.

There was one old Arab Dude (he could even have been Kuwaiti because Kuwaiti men are more likely chubby-chasers and I’m not exactly svelte) who followed me all the way around a mall and my hotel (that was attached to the mall – I stayed at the Hyatt Regency). I asked him (in Arabic), several times, “Nam, haji, fee shay?” and he answered, “La. Salamtich.” But he just kept on comin’. Again, I am trying to be a kinder/gentler person (yeah, right), so I didn’t kick his ass or make a spectacle of him.

I was there for the Iraq Defence, Security & Communications Summit Snoozefest. Why? Don’t ask. I don’t really know, but I made some good contacts and caught up with people that I hadn’t seen in years. It kind of pissed me off that my colleague (who had requested my presence) didn’t bother to show up for 2 days of seminar and meetings. He knows that I take very detailed reports, so I guess that is why I was there. They booked us into the wrong hotel (maybe on purpose either to piss us off or to save the company money). The Grand Hyatt rocks. It is so gorgeous. That is where the summit was held and my new hotel of choice in Dubai (except, of course, for the Royal Mirage which I love more than anywhere. If I had only stayed with The Man…. WAKE UP!.

I had dinner with Shamlan’s friend, Khalid, who I hadn’t seen since he left Washington in the 80’s. He was the person who filled in details about Shamlan’s death; and he provided me with more information about what happened - which has actually made it an even larger mystery, and yet confirms what I already knew in my heart. Regardless of the official cause of death, he was murdered. The police reported his death as a suicide by gunshot wound to the head (how do I know? I had someone get me the report). However, he was found with a gun in his hand and a pillow over his face that was shot through. If it was a suicide, why would he care about noise being detected? He also did not die at home which is what I had thought all along. He had an apartment and it happened there. Khalid saw him 20 days before he died and Shamlan was laughing and happy. My hypothesis is that it was done by someone up high. Anyways, regardless of the sadness I felt (I didn’t cry), it was nice to see Khalid and catch up on all the stuff for years.

I don’t see my old friends as much as I should. That is wrong. I try, but I guess as you age, you just lose contact with more and more people and your circle becomes smaller. You stay with people who have the exact same interests and thoughts as you. Maybe you become a little more narrow-minded and opinionated as you have a support system similar to your own perspective. Gotta do something about that.

Dubai does have a lot to see and do – IF you can deal with the traffic (which I can’t). I hate traffic. I hate rude, aggressive cab drivers who think that they should take traffic out on tourists/passengers; I further hate rude, aggressive cab drivers with bad colds with leaky noses and snot rags who keep the windows rolled up and the A/C off. The drivers don’t get paid enough for fares (I paid double on every trip because they were making NOTHING and I have a guilty conscience) and so it is like they try to make you feel bad when there is traffic and they have to sit in it. Not MY FAULT. I would have gone to more places if it hadn’t been for the nasty cab drivers. I wanted to go to the Global Market and some places in Jumeira, but I’ll have to wait till later. I’d also like to go there and do one of those lame desert safaris sometime; and also take a boat trip. I’ll take The Romanian. She’s flexible. She’ll go anywhere (as long as it isn’t in the morning). I like that about her.

Well, I got back to Kuwait and 2 guys followed me through the airport to give me their numbers. Aaaaah, it is so nice to be home where I am not invisible. Kuwait: Home of “shaham laham”.

Have you noticed that the Kuwait International Airport is supposedly “smoke-free” (they announce it on the planes), and yet the people who are smoking are the CUSTOMS guys sitting at their counters? There is one fat, heart-attack-waiting-to-happen-looking guy who is the main culprit, and he seems to be the instigator as all the rest of the customs guys follow him and light up.

For all my bitching about it, I really do love Kuwait and all its eccentricities. There is just so much bureaucracy and in-fighting here that you just know that it won’t be like Dubai anytime soon --- which is actually just fine by me.


SpiKeY said...

why this is interesting to know..welcome back

Qatar Cat said...

Strange observations! None of that ever happened to me in Dubai. And nobody ever tried to talk to me in Russian, although I am fluent in Russian.

Desert Girl said...

Thanks, Spikey. :)

Qatar Cat: This incident may fall into the "It only happens to me, Desert Girl" category; cause shit like this usually does! :)

Zoe said...

i just read this post on how you lose contact with friends and how your circle gets smaller. i couldnt agree with you more. ive travelled a lot as well with work and i have made really good friends on my travels.

reminds me of daniel, a gay journalist i met in johannesburg. we got on really well and became very good friends. when i left, we promised we would visit each other, that we will be always in touch. but funny how our emails are now reduced to 'hi how are you?'. sad really.

Edward said...

Dubai Desert Safari is very nice location for the trip i like it very much