Wednesday, February 4, 2009

myth castration, part deux

So while the good 'ol USA continues to get their information on Dubai and the Middle East from the "not at all biased or lame" US media...barfs in the corner...may the super-dooper myth-demolition-extravaganza continue.

1. Dubai is all sand. sand sand sand sand.
Sure there's sand. can feel a wee-bit beige. But if the desert is really nothing but a bunch of dunes and camels, then explain this deliciousness.

Safa Park.
From here, the entire city looks green,
and unlike Paris, you can PLAY on it!

Perfect for frolicking, afternoon concepting,
naps, dog romps, picnics and blatant stupidity.

Granted, a lot of the city IS beige. Unless it's a tall shiny ego phallus. Then it's tall, shiny, and...well, phallic. But it makes for some crazy views when I walk from work to the Dubai Mall for lunch.

This particular erection looks even taller in person, especially when there's a perfect little cloud for dramatic effect. But this is the kind of crap CNN's already covered. Sorry I digress, but it brings us to our next myth....

2. There are no clouds, EVER, and it never rains.
Um, see above. It'll be gone this summer, but it rains in the winter. Thank God. Last winter it rained so much, the city flooded. That was good fun.

Yay weather! Rain, wind, big waves! Okay, it doesn't
really show up here. You'll just have to trust me.

3. Dubai is not in Iraq. And it's not Gaza either. Get a map, people.
I know high school geography was a while ago, but come on. The Middle East is a REGION. For the world to consider a chunk-o-planet a "region," it has to be BIG. Those are just the rules. Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates. It's a little country with a lot of ambition, a lot of tolerance, and the cleanest, shiniest floors ever.

Dubai faces the Arabian Gulf, and if you drive over to Fujiarah, you get a delicious piece of the Indian Ocean. (Technically, it's the Gulf of Oman, but lets not nit-pick. The snorkeling/diving's suposed to be pretty great.) And don't let the whole "Indian Ocean" bit confuse you. Dubai is not in India either. Some neighborhoods just seem that way.

4. Girls should be VEILED?! It's an Islamic nation, therefore it's DRY?!
What? This isn't SAUDI. Dubai is the Vegas/Singapore of the Middle East. Everyone from Europe comes here to defrost, get fried in the sun, ride a camel, party, shop and pick up some knock-off handbags and gold.

On the way to the Gold Souk,
Why take a bridge, when you can take an Abra?

Everyone from the rest of the Middle East comes here to embrace the tolerance and open mindedness of the place, party shop and pick up some real handbags and gold. (Most of them are over the whole camel and sun thing. It's old news.)

This was a fancy little table at a club, for 4 of us. Holy excess!

Roomies at 360

Another night, elsewhere in the city....drinks, music, balmy breezes, strappless tops, and 360 degrees of water. (It's on a jetty.) Take a ten minute walk back down the jetty, through the hotel and out on the street, and you can hear the call to prayer five times a day. Some say it's hypocritical. Some say it's tolerant. Some say it's economics. I'm just amazed that there's life for my tube-top after South Beach.

The general rule? Don't have sex in public. Don't pass out like a drunken idiot on the sidewalk, don't streak down Jumeriah Beach Road (even though it may be tempting,) and you'll be all right. Some of the women I work with dress more seductively than in many ad agencies in the states. Bare shoulders, strappy dresses, Abayas, veils, sweaters, whatever rocks your boat. If you want to dress like a whore, knock yourself out. What will happen? The Indian and Pakistani guys will stare. Yes, they really will. People might think you're Russian and ask you how much, and they won't let you strut through a mosque dressed like that. It's okay to wear a bikini. (Ideally not at work. That would be weird.)

Good place for Bikini!

Bad place for Bikini!

Dumb placed for Bikini!

Now that we've cleared that up, it's also okay to wear shorts and socks with your sandals here, if you don't mind sticking out like an American tourist. The fashionistas might avert their eyes and make fun of you, but it'll be in a Lebanese version of English-French-Arabic, so you won't know the difference and everyone stays happy. And if you're romping around in your short shorts, rocking the sock-sandal thing, you probably ARE a tourist, in which case, so what? ENJOY IT.

5. Women have to deal with loads of sexism at work.
Actually, every advertising chic gets her own personal MINSTREL! At least if you're lucky enough to know someone with a ukulele and feather pen. If you're one of those feminist freaks who yells at the men who are considerate enough to hold the door for you, and let you leave the elevator first, you might not like Dubai. Ladies first. American men, take lessons, your chivalry has gone down the toilet.

Do I see sexism here? Yes. It's eye opening. It makes me angry. And when i do see it, it's out of context. I ask questions. I get less angry, i get more angry. I get confused. It's called a healthy exposure to a different culture. Do I have any idea what it's really like, to be an Emirati woman, in a conservative Emirati family? No. But I know it varies from family to family, a lot. I know it varies from Saudi to Syrian to Lebanese to Iranian to any other given ex-pat family. And anyone who's afraid to come here just because they're too in love with their Wal-Mart-esque-narrow-minded complacency, they're missing out. There's more to life than Iowa. Here's to the open mind. Here's my roaming minstrel. Hawt. Now if only he'd learn to play the damn thing.

1 comment:

Hunterino said...

a.) Safa Park is a dot from 0.5mm fine point pen of an exclamation mark made by a roller paint brush.

b.)Those aren't clouds and that ain't fog. That's sand granules encased in micro-misty-orbs. It feels like one is breathing glass made into gelatin. And you can feel it coating your lungs...ugh. And that rain will eat your face.

c.) Yeah, Americans trip me out about "Are there terrorists over there?" Yeah, the food service industry terrorizes me.

d.) Before I had a better handle on punctuation there was the ellipsis. May the ellipsis last forever and...