The winter made me do it. Not that I mind winters, in fact I used to like them. The lazy dark days, over-eating, watch some TV, take in some shows. It was good. But it isn’t anymore. Not with 3 kids, two of which are babies that have to be dressed up like Michelin men to brave the weather then stripped down completely to cope with the central heating. And not with the hypochondria I’ve developed on their behalf, every time I dropped Layla off at kindergarten I would look at the other kids, coughing, wheezing, like a geriatric ward on uppers.
So Dubai. 24ºC and sunny.
You would think it was a no brainer decision but I had my doubts. I always thought of Dubai as coarse. A male centric blemish on the earth (you can see The Palm from space.)
We land in Abu Dhabi because there is no direct flight to Dubai from Berlin (No surprise there then). Passport control is staffed entirely with women, wrapped in black, their pinned up hair making their shrouded heads look conical and alien.
Then there are the feet and the big man toes. In Europe if you’ve seen a man’s toes, it goes without saying you’ve seen a lot more of him besides. Not in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Dishdashas swish this way and that, backless sandals scrape against the pavement (Arabs are famous for the shuffle walk) exposing toes the size of limes, tufts of hair sprouting generously beneath the nail beds. Their magpie nature means that the sandals are adorned with all manner of shiny accessories.
And that’s just the men. The women’s abayas part when they walk to reveal towering Louboutins. They may be wearing a headscarf but they paint their faces with as much make up as Kim Kardashian (some even got her boobs) and they all have Britney Spears nose. Now add to that all the tall Eastern European women, who are clearly choosing to ignore the “please dress appropriately” signs and you have a wonderfully refreshing clash of cultures. We are staying close to The Palm on a stretch knows as “The Walk”. Full of restaurants and cafes. There is a runway outside my window. Propellor planes take off every 15 minutes and parachutes drop out of them like a sparse handful of confetti. Cruise ships glisten in the sun. The sun shines almost all the time. When it doesn’t, the doorman tells me “Don’t go out sir, you will catch a cold.” I get called ‘sir’ a lot here. I’m assuming (hoping) it has less to do with my lack of Kardashian make up and more to do with all the Filipinos, Malaysians and so on that work here. They learn everything so fast but often miss crucial details – like ‘sir’ is for a man, ‘ma’am’ for a woman. That lack of understanding goes some way to explain why all the food tastes slightly altered here. Like you’ve accidentally picked up someone elses reading glasses. Our large apartment has the pokiest kitchen I’ve ever seen. Probably because no one cooks. You just order from one of the many menus that get delivered to your door (Wagamama, Yo Sushi,). I prefer the local places like Zaatar with Zeit things taste as they should. There are hundreds of fancy restaurants here: Nobu, Zuma and the rest. Chances are with the babies, their sleeping and feeding schedule – I won’t be able to make it. But who cares! 24ºC and sunny.