Sunday, November 06, 2005

Impressions of Dubai

My arrival in Dubai marked my first entrance into the Middle East. We arrived in Dubai on one of the last days of Ramadan. Dubai is billed as one of the most liberal cities in the Middle East. Scarves and veils are not required for women and due to its prominence as a shopping Mecca "western style" women are not supposedly that rare, though they are advised to dress modestly. Getting off the plane, most of the women I saw had head scarves but were not a full veil. As we were going through passport control, I saw a woman covered head to toe in a black crepe material that reminded me for some reason of the Abu Gharib photo of the prisoner in the black hood in the crucifixion pose. One of my travel companions who has traveled extensively in the area told me that this is the UAE's version of a burqa. A very gracious man was waiting for us at the airport to take us to our hotel. The hotel was beautiful - with several bars including a tikki bar the bars were all closed for the month of Ramadan. There was also a fitness center/spa with separate workout facilities for men and women. In our rooms there were letters that included suggested codes of conduct for men and women during Ramadan. After too short a night of soft beds, working air conditioning, BBC World, and plush bathrobes we left the next morning for the Sharjah airport.

- A. Monkey