Saturday, February 27, 2010

A jinx on the Dubai Mall??

Before I begin on the Dubai Mall...I have an update on Sheikh Mubarak and mourning...he was in his late 70's apparently and the first minister of the interior for the UAE. The family has been receiving a long line of visitors just across 15th from us next to Mushrif park. The flags are at half mast and there's a tank out the side door. There's a long line of cars entering and I saw one woman walking out in a short black dress (hmmm that's definitely not kosher). The radio is still on muzak but we were at a big party at one of the clubs last night with alcohol and music. So, I'm not sure of the fine print on the ban on that stuff. I guess it depends on your wasta.

Now ... about the jinx. I'm beginning to wonder if all those trips to the Dubai Mall over Christmas break left the mall with some bad mojo. First, the Burj Khalifa shut down the observation deck (still closed at the moment) and now the aquarium has sprung a leak. What are the chances??
Check it out...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


We just found out that Sheik Mubarak bin Mohammed al Nahyan just passed away. He was one of the older guys in the ruling family and the father of Sheikh Nahayan who is the minister of higher education among other things. I'd never heard of Sheikh Mubarak before and when I went to the internet to find out more, there really isn't any more. All the middle eastern news agencies report his death and an official three days of mourning. No age, no cause of death (not even the 'go to' - natural causes. Nada. We do get three days of mourning. In the old days that would apparently translate into a total shut down of schools, offices, industry and commercial enterprises (ie woo hoo three days of vacation). But Abu Dhabi is more progressive now. So the latest manifestation, so far, means: yes, there is school and yes, there is work. But Radio 1 and their raucous disc jockeys Simon B, Danny and Sheena have been silenced and in their place there is the equivalent of arabic muzac. There's apparently a complete ban on alcohol and we'll see about music and dancing. In two nights time we have the American School's gala---It's a brazilian carnival. Dry and Silent. Hmmm sounds like a blast.
We'll see how this develops...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Just back from the homeland

I'm just back from a quick week's trip to the US (NYC and Rhode Island). It's great to be back in the warm weather and 'home'. It's a little sad I, so far, can't find any winter olympics coverage on the 100 odd TV stations I have here. Also, while I was gone--the closed the Burj Khalifa indefinitely. Seems there's a stuck word on the passengers that were in that elevator when it got stuck over a week ago. I guess I was lucky!

A few reflections from my trip...

1. People are much more interested (I mean really interested with actual pertinent questions AND follow up questions that prove they're, in fact, listening) in my experiences in the middle east as opposed to those in France.
2. The train ride from NY to Rhode Island is absolutely beautiful. How some developer hasn't found a way to move the train tracks that go right along the sound is both surprising and reassuring. (the picture on the left was taken from the train).
3. Snow is enormously fun when you're only in it for the pretty part and you have nowhere to get to and no need to shovel.
4. It's a REALLY long trip from Abu Dhabi to NY.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Like no other store in the world...

Bloomingdales opened in the UAE yesterday at the Dubai Mall. I can't help but remember Galleries Lafayette's ill-fated venture in NYC a bunch of years ago...let's hope this ends better. What I do know is --- Emiratis love malls and they have some terrific malls (who would've thunk I'd be waxing poetic on malls...oh how far I've sunk). But hear me out...some of the features of the Dubai Mall:
The Burj Khalifa visitors center. Tallest building in the world. Been to a mall with one of those?
Aquarium and underwater zoo. Also cool.
Candylicious..blatant ripoff of Dylan's Candy Bar. This far from the true land of jelly bellies, we'll take it.
Kinokuniya. Largest bookstore in the Emirates
Dubai watching Niagara Falls set to music. From 6pm every 20 minutes this baby shoots off sprays of water to the tune of anything from Andrea Boccelli to local folk music. Pretty amazing.
Outdoor restaurants surrounding an artificial lake with said fountain. Very pleasant indeed.
And now, drumroll please, Magnolias Bakery (inside Bloomies). The real deal. They ship in their special flour and sprinkles from NYC. Life just got a whole lot sweeter.