Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Other Side of Dubai

So I will diverge ever so slightly from the focuses of my distinguished colleagues. Its all fine and good to talk about the academics and the cultural side that we see in the poorer areas of town but I think equally as valid is the experience to be had in the glitzy side of Dubai. So here's my post.

Within the first day or so of arriving in Dubai I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with a native for a little while. While

Tears still streaming down my fac he's not ethnically Emirati he's lived here his virtually his entire life and as I've found is better connected than just about anyone I've ever met. So when I needed a power adapter for my super swanky MacBook he was who I talked to. Off we went speeding down Sheik Zayed road, cruising by the tallest building in the world and some of the most incredible architecture on Earth. He blasted American music on his radio and talked me into smoking a very traditional Emirati tobacco pipe (a "midwakh") convincing me somehow that it was the most Emirati thing I could do. My charming classmates still haven't stopped making fun of me for how hard I coughed.

e from the incredibly hard tobacco we waltzed into one of Dubai's several malls and to the RadioShack where I got my adapter. It was on the way back that my guide mentioned it first... "Buddha Bar" I had actually heard the name before, it turns out this place is literally the best bar in Dubai. But of course, with this guy, just getting in isn't a question, we were destined for the VIP section.

And it was incredible. Waved through the first felt rope without a second glance and then up the stairs to hang with the sheiks. It was rumored that Paris Hilton might be stopping by (not true apparently, some other place received the Hilton queen that night.) We sipped flaming cocktails and I think Kate touched the giant Buddha at some point. All the gulf's high rollers all converging in one spot that had five years before been nothing but sand.

My roommate from the last two years is headed to Brussels in the Fall. Pretty cool man... But for those of us who are pas
sionate about the Middle East and the different world that exists over here and the incredible p
otential a place like this has, there appears to be no better place to experience it than right here in Dubai where the glitz and glamour meets the regional political economy.





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