A Day At The Mall

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  ,
Friday, July 8, 2011

Diggy had a plan for us today, starting with a visit to Ibn Battuta mall. Ibn Battuta is the original discoverer/astronomer of the UAE. This mall reminds me of Cesar's in Vegas. The ceiling is painted sky and changes while each wing represents the various regions Battuta explored. Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India and China.

Since malls are a way of life here, so are their adjoining food courts. For some reason Diggy kept choosing this route for our meals, wouldn't have been my first choice. Although I was happy to eat anything besides Shwarma, so I went for the chicken tikka and masala sauce.

Today turned out to be mellow since we spent a large part of day dealing with a rebellious dog, who was acting out against Diggy leaving him for so many days and then my mission to find internet access so I could confirm receipt of the DHL package. I had lost my ATM card and mom sent me a new one.

In the evening we picked up Manish, Diggy’s brother from another mother and caught the fountain show at Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. I didn’t bother paying whatever exorbitant entrance fee they were charging to go to the observation deck mostly because it was just too hazy from the sandy sky so we took a few photos and moved on.

It was Friday night for God’s sake so first we stopped at a friend’s bday party for some Karaoke before eating really bad pasta at another fast food restaurant. The plan was to go to Barasti Bar at the beach which is known as one of the most happening spots in Dubai but first it required a stop at Diggy’s in the Marina to shower and appear club worthy.

The bar was packed with ex-pats and travelers and the music was actually good for dancing but the 120 degree heat made it nearly unbearable. As the meat market vibe was winding down, our group of 12 or so carpooled to the Heritage Center in Juma al Bajid where people gather to smoke Shisha and where a bottle of water cost more than a liter of gas.

The more enlightening part of the evening was watching all the guys fight over this one Swedish woman/stewardess who was milking it for all it’s worth. This night I met Dulce, one of Diggy’s closest friends in Dubai. She is originally from but due to her father’s line of work, she has lived in Germany and now Dubai for five years. She is super cool and has a great sense of humor. She was also a great host the following day once Manish abandoned his babysitting duties.

On only four hours sleep I woke Manish up at 10:00 so we can start today’s tour. The idea of an early start was to avoid the heat of the day but it’s inevitable. First stop was to catch the Agra (small wooden ferry) to Deira district where all of the souks are located. Sorry excuse for a souk in comparison to Morocco and it was still early so I couldn’t get the full affect. The heat was unbearable and I could see that I was losing Manish. He weathered the Dubai Museum with me and then sent me on my way via tram to Palm Island. The island is basically rows of villas all situated on strips of land that from an aerial view for the shape of a Palm Tree. At the furthest tip sits the five stars Atlantis Hotel and Wild Park. I kept myself busy there for an hour mesmerized by the beautiful aquarium until Dulce came to get me.

Dulce was determined that I see everything but due to our time constraints we pretty much cruised by the beach and then headed back to her house. Honestly, hanging with Dulce and her mom, was a perfect last note before my departure this evening.

PS: Any stories you’ve heard about punishment in Dubai are true. Manish is currently housing and helping out a former colleague, a once very successful German businessman, who got involved in a business transaction requiring him to write a check for $2 million dollars. Unfortunately the check bounced and that alone is grounds for imprisonment. This 70 year old man was confined to living in prison for 17 months. Initially he was kept in a lower standard prison in very poor conditions, tortured and no rights. Eventually he was placed in the national prison where the conditions are improved, they can order meals, make calls and buy things. Not clear on all the details, mind you I was getting this story at 3:00AM but it sound like the man is without a passport and it is out of the German embassy’s hands to assist.  Similarly another friend has found herself in a predicament helping an American guy who got busted for having marijuana in his blood even though he smoked it before entering the country. He was on his way to Afghanistan where he was working and Dubai was just a layover from somewhere else. Sounds like he partied in the country of departure and then was out in Dubai at a bar where he engaged in conversation with a woman. It turned out that the woman was a nark and when the topic of smoking pot came up, she ratted him out. The next thing he knew he was arrested, and placed in the preliminary cell with the worst conditions; tortured, starved, no phone calls etc… After a month and a half, he is now in the proper facilities but he doesn’t really have family or anyone else to help. My friend is basically his only lifeline right now and the truth is she only just met the guy a few times. Meanwhile, the U.S. refuses to intervene because it is a drug related offense. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground as I listened to both of these stories in disbelief.  You don’t want to mess around with the laws in Dubai. I was warned that you can also be arrested here for using the F--- word, especially against the royals. Crazy!!!!

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