A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

From Beirut to the Burj: Diamond in Dubai

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 28, 2007

I have been spending the past few days in Dubai, one of the few Gulf cities I have never visited before. The city is fascinating – and in many ways I think I find it more intriguing coming from Beirut than coming from anywhere else.

Dubai to me is what Beirut could have been – the dynamic hub linking the Middle East to the rest of the world. Certainly it has a number of boondoggle projects, but on the whole … the energy is different here.

And so is the shopping. Yesterday afternoon I took a few hours off to visit the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai’s most famous mall. There are some big diamonds there.

I wasn’t interested in skiing – what I really needed were bath towels, which I found at the Carrefour – a massive, Wal-mart like shop with a full grocery store.

As I walked through Carrefour’s aisles, I began feeling rather … Syrian.

I love Syria, and I love Syrians. However, I also recognize the classic Syrian-in-Lebanon experience: big eyed, open-mouthed wandering through Beirut’s magic streets, marveling at the glamorous people and the incredible array of things to buy.

I’m American – I grew up with malls. However, after a few months in Beirut, coming to Dubai made me equally big eyed and open-mouthed. It wasn’t merely the variety of brands and styles of things available – it was the prices.

In Beirut, everything normal (including bath towels) is unnecessarily expensive – or of lesser quality – than in the US. Although the Mall of the Emirates certainly had fewer sale items than American malls, it did have a very American feel – and very American pricing.

As I shopped my shami way through the mall’s stores, a few Middle Eastern moments did keep me grounded enough to remember that I was in Dubai and not downtown Seattle.

I finally bought the launch copy of Harper’s Bazaar. When the cashier ran it through the scanner, it came up as Harper’s Bizarre. Well, fashion is a little bizarre sometimes – and so is Arabic English.

I also stopped at a pharmacy to pick up another over-the-counter prescription medication. (It may sound like I am quite the sickly one but these two pharmacy visits are total anomalies. Usually I am in embarrassingly good health.)

Would you like the three capsule option or the ten? the pharmacist asked me.

Oh, the three, I replied, thinking: better to get it over with quickly.

We do not have the three capsule option, he told me firmly.

Right, I thought. So why offer it then?

One Response to “From Beirut to the Burj: Diamond in Dubai”

  1. intlxpatr said

    *dying laughing* Little Diamond. Don’t you love it when that happens?

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