kookie in dubai - tales in the desert city

Sunday, December 17

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Well that's a blatant lie…I'm not really. I'm dreaming about lying next to a pool, sipping on a Pink Lady and eating roasted peanuts while the sun goes down in Sri Lanka.

Back in reality people in the sandlands flock to the malls as the sales begin and see huge Christmas decorations that put the Myer windows to shame. I just went to Wafi City, a high end mall, with the most elaborate Christmas decorations that I've ever seen. There's a Santa house with four elfs waiting to play with children and a huge tree laden with presents. Even though Muslims technically don't celebrate Christmas the retailers understand and appreciate ($) the importances of the holiday in the west, and shops have been bombarding the public with advertising since October, just like at home.

I went to Wafi in search of decent mince pies. I made the trip to Marks & Spencers to no avail…they decided not to stock them this year. So I left very disappointed but have already decided to go second rate and find some mince pies at the local Spinneys supermarket. Mr Kiplings will have to do…HO HO HO…

Girls On Film

For the past 10 days Dubai has been treated to films from across the globe as part of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). It isn't in the same league as Melbourne or Toronto but obviously provides film makers with a great opportunity and allows locals and expats keen to learn more about religion and culture.

Storm in the South is about three Kuwaiti women who are making history in their country. They're each running for a seat in the elections in the South, an area known for its conservatism and tribal traditions. Women have never been allowed to run for office before now and this area is rife with corruption; vote buying exists. The film follows their campaign trail for each woman over the course of a month. There's a shot of one man who says women will never be in parliament' which gives you some idea of the mentality that these women face everyday. Then t
here's the public rallies where women are in burquas, (that's women who are fully covered and you can only see their eyes), publicly declaring that they will vote for one of the female candidates which gives you great hope and inspiration and the whole time you're thinking....yes, they're going to get in.

Election day comes and there appears to be a good vibe amongst the voters and each candidate walks amongst the crowd saying 'today Kuwaiti women will make history...'. The count starts. Then it closes...and then the tally comes up on the screen and they show that one of the women came in at number 8th in her area and that she got 1,400 out of 11,000 votes in the district. There was a communal groan in the audience. What happened? So many of the women in the show said 'I'll vote for you...'?'I want to see women in parliament...' and yet when it came obviously not enough women were able to bring about change. It was heart wrenching.

Not having experienced anything to do with war, it was also interesting to note that a lot of the stories told was centered around war torn cities and families. Some were shot in real locations such as the West Bank. It was amazing to see how resilient the human race can be and reminded me that I've have such a privileged white Western existence and have no idea of the level of pain and suffering that people continue to live in.

Sunday, December 10

Singin' In The Rain

To everyone else's disgust and disbelief it's been raining in Dubai over the last few days. For me it was heaven. I woke up in mid darkness, heard the rain against the window, rolled over and pulled the blanket up over my chin and went back to sleep.

When I finally crawled out of bed I pulled on a warm jacket, grabbed the umbrella and went walking. People looked at me like I was a crazy person.

When it rains here people are at a loss. They don't own an umbrella; you see all these people running around the street with a plastic bag over their head and they have no idea what it means to drive in the rain. Driving becomes a serious problem. Drivers aren’t used to driving in wet conditions and have no idea of how not to slide or how to control a car in the rain. In one day alone there were over 650 accidents reported.

The city isn't really built to cope with water. Parking bays are flooded as are some apartment building foyers…and we're talking about rainfall only over 2 days worth. For some people they saw it as a reminder of why they left their home country in the first place, for me it was like the city being washed clean. Buildings that are normally covered in fine sand are now back to their glory days…for the time being anyway.