Monthly Archives: November 2008

sorellina visit day 1: went to JBR, then last nite we went to mall of the emirates

met klc at airport at 8am. (after coming in from beirut at 3am. i was in basketcase mode.) we both napped til afternoon.
in the afternoon we walked to JBR (jumeirah beach residences), looked at the gulf and construction on palm jumeirah for like 5 seconds then putzed around some shops where i saw this groovey fish at a fish store.

then last nite we went to mall of the emirates.

we checked out the gorgeous housewares stores on the top floor. soo nice. then ate at a lebanese restaurant. for mall restaurants, they have some good places. the lebanese place is between turkish and an iran places.

it was fun cuz it was like the big night out of the week for emiratiis. all the pretty grrls in abayas were out and all the handsome young men in kandoras (white robes. i think thats what they’re called) and some in baseball caps kind of looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes. never directly of course. that’s not polite.

we looked in abaya stores. that;s always fun.

there are xmas decorations in the stores. most of them make me embarrassed to be western.

these would look perfect on the zornow family xmas tree. 😀

this place had an upside down christmas tree.

i saw goats on my way to the 0ff1c3 in b31rut

each morning i’d go up this hill to werk and see this herd of goats. they were so [expletive removed cuz it upsets my mom and aunt] cute i wanted to jump out of the cab and play with them.
i love goat cheese salads too with beets and walnuts…

ahhh beirut

so i come into beirut and the taxi driver is a friendly guy. an old guy. like if he were in the US the poor guy would b retired. the guy must have been in his 70s! and he was so friendly and outgoing. if his english had been better i would have asked him about all he’s seen in his lifetime.

so he’s tryin to chat w/ me about ny and dubai and my pathetic french. nice guy. and he’s trying to point out stuff like a new road blah blah blah.

and then he’s like, pointing around, “this is all hizzbollah! this is all hizzbolah!” as if its part of a tourist tour. i;m like ok… cool. i didnt know if i was suppoed to b impressed or scared. then we come to a road and he’s like “this road is christian part… your hotel is in christian part of the city”.

then i walk into this hotel which i’ve stayed at b4. there are red velvet ropes up. those werent there b4.

i check in. then i notice at the end of the velvet ropes a metal detector walk-thru thing. i;m like ok whatever they’re beefing up security fine. then i see the sign “iraqi banking something or other conference –> “.  i;m like great. this cant be good.

i cant tell my family about this cuz they’ll have a panic attack so i”m writing this now but it wont be public til this iraq conference is out of the hotel. ok yeah that makes me sounds like a paranoid ugly american. whatever mary. u come here and stay here.

who woulda thought that being on the saudi penninsula (i refer to dubai) feels 100x safer than when in lebanon which is so close to the EU?

i told someone recently “yer only in danger in beirut if u r near someone who is an assassination target”… i wonder if those iraqi banking ppl are?!?! good f*cking lord.

^^ that pic is on the infamous road from the airport to the city center that i’ve been warned about.

the girls of riydah by rajaa alsanea

u have to read this book. i just started it and read half of it on the plane on the way here. i cant wait to get back to it.

its like sex in the city or gossip girl but the characters are these 4 college-aged saudi grrls. its written by a saudi gal. it was written w/ the intention that her audience would be saudis. she didnt think it would be of interest to the west. was she ever wrong!

whats cool about it is that dorks like me being all western and not knowing any saudi woman – i only know what i read on the ‘net and see/read in other media – this book has believable characters, some more liberal than the others, who have personalities and opinions and likes and dislikes and dramas and ups and downs. u see the sh*t they have to deal with with men. i thought it was annoying trying to date in NYC. i think its worse for saudi gals. i dont want to be judgmental, but its sad how they have no substantive contact w/ men until they are married. marriages have to approved by families and are often arranged. sometimes there are good relationships between husbands and wives but its portrayed as the exception not the rule. the book doesnt present it as sad, but more like this is their lives and how they deal with it.

just read it ok? its mind-blowing to me how their social customs are so rigid that they cant always marry and date who they want. they dont get to have male friends. its all so novel to me. while this is going on, the grrls manage, as girls always do, to have fun to some extent. there’s the requisite sneaking around that teens will always do no matter what culture they’re in.

there’s no mention of the law against women drivers in KSA. but in one part of the book one of the grrls gets ahold of a BMW SUV with tinted windows and the girls go joy riding without anyone seeing in. of course they open the windows when they pass handsome young men.

girls-of-riyadh

i cant wait to see what happens next. i hope this doesnt make me stay up all night finishing it making me a basketcase at werk 2morrow.

Girls of Riyadh on amazon.com

i hope they make this into a movie. (made in ksa and casted and crewed by arabs.)

the sun is like a fireball here

in real life it was an orange circle but it dint come out. the best thing about dubai is the constant sun. nice weather. maybe i should move to miami when i get back to the us.

btw, i noticed this past week that many stores have xmas decorations up already.

the sheiks r all right

isnt this nice:

picture-4

‘Tolerance’ artwork unveiled in capital

By Eman Mohammed, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor
Published: November 19, 2008, 23:15

Abu Dhabi: “…The sculpture consists of nine pieces, each an individual letter in bronze, which together make up the word ‘Tolerance’. The work has been created by artist Guy Ferrer, one of France’s preeminent contemporary sculptors and painters…

This sculpture is for the people of Abu Dhabi – everybody who lives, works and visits here. It has been gifted to the nation by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,” said Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun in his speech.

The work shows the commitment of the government of Abu Dhabi, to become a global ideas capital, reflecting the vision of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan….

The sculpture has been installed at the entrance to the Crown Prince’s Diwan on Baynuna and 25th street junction to allow everybody to enjoy it…

The work was first conceived in 2004 by the artist in reaction to a global preoccupation with theological differences. Guy Ferrer told Gulf News that his work carries values of “harmony, peace and love”…

… that reminded me – last week, sheik mohammad of dubai (or sheik mo as ppl here call him) gave a speech at the federal national council (click to see the whole text) where he talked about things like

“…our country’s rapid progress in all fields has enhanced its position at the regional, Arab and international levels and ensured that we have a voice and influence. Our country will continue to spread the message of love, peace and progress…”

the uae is a pretty civil, safe and pleasant place. its nice to be here. when u consider that KSA is next door and iran, iraq and afghanistan are just across the gulf, its really really (that’s 2 “reallys”) remarkable what this ruling family here in the UAE has done with their country in only like 2 decades. there aren’t crazy wars and threats of bombings going on here, but loads offices housing international businesses, and lots of tourists from all over the planet coming here. and there’s practically no crime here.

the emiratiis have a wonderful social structure of great housing, health care and first rate education while maintaining their unique cultural identity (which i, as a foreigner, would like to see more of amidst the modern aesthetics). they’ve taken their resources and made a sustainable, live-able nation in a phenomenally short time.

u so have to respect what they’ve done even if u think its too commercial (i.e. many tourist’s favorite places to visit here are the non-built up ‘hoods where the expat indians live and work cuz it feels less like the west than anywhere else here.). they really should be an example to the rest of the world. how many case studies are there like this? none. has any other nation in recorded history done what they’ve done in the past 20-30 years in a non-war-like manner?

anyhoo, these ruling sheiks seem like nice people. and if the rest of the arab would take lessons from them (minus the allowance of multiple wives), it would be really nice.

ok, and in response to some of my friends who will slam me by emailing me “well they want to get rid of isreal” i know you’ll say that. but, my friends, the UAE’s position on isreal would no doubt be a non-violent, ‘lets talk about it and work it out’ position. what if all arab countries adopted that approach? all might be well in the world.

best dining experience i’ve had here yet

my only friend here inka turned me on to this awesome indian place across the street from where the fishing boats come in on jumeria beach where they sell only fish caught there and cooked only one way.

u choose which fish u want then they cook it for and its reallly good and cheap. u sit on plastic tables and chairs outside on the sand.

the BEST thing about it is that its run by and patronized by real ppl and real not generic boring mall ppl. its in an emiratii ‘hood so its not filled w/ cheeseball white ppl. thank allah for this lovely place. i must go back there.

there were some bored emiratii teens there and one was dressed as a faux-rastafarian in clothes he prolly got at a mall liek at the gap or something. they were amsuing, those teens. teens are awkward and amusing no matter where u r in the world i think.  the other patrons seemed to be all expat indians, most in suits, and 2 other white ppl and an expat asian guy w/ his family.

may have been the best dining experience i’ve had here yet.

i cant wait to get back to nyc.

i am getting bored here and a little depressed. but not real depressed. just the temporary kind cuz i;m bored and lonely.