Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'll need a credit card that's got no limit...

In Dubai you can shop until you drop. Here is Thomas, having dropped, after a few hours at the Mall of the Emirates: Don't worry, that's not a tantrum. He was just playing. The boy likes to go shopping. Other Moms are so jealous. The "MOE" mall has more than 450 retailers, 70 restaurants, hotels and a 14 screen theatre, 223,000 square feet in all. Oh, yes, and the ski slope. Mustn't forget that.

The swoop of the ski slope high above makes for a handy place to park beneath when the downstairs covered parking lots are full.

Each aisle of the parking area has a counter to tell you how many available spots there are, which is somewhat but not entirely accurate. Some places have small lights above each space, red if the spot is occupied, green if it's available, which is really helpful.

The Mall of the Emirates has a "Courtesy Policy" whose first two dictums are: Please wear respectful clothing i.e. shoulders and knees covered and No kissing or overt displays of affection. This sort of tells you the bare minimum (no pun intended) you should do. Mike and I have taken to commenting on the "respectfulness" of certain outfits, especially since it's Ramadan. One woman caused Mike to wonder what she wears when it's not Ramadan!

We had a great time Friday night, going out for dinner and a movie. Sounds tame, I know, but when you have little kids and you get to go out without them it's pretty fun! (For them, too.) Of course no one was willing to tell us that the sitter wasn't available until 6 despite repeated phone calls and assurances that no problem, 5 was fine, no problem no problem, (movie started at 6) but this has become par for the course. We wandered around the mall, not hard to do since it's so enormous, until 7 when the restaurants opened.

The one Mike had chosen for our evening is called Apr├Ęs, and because we were there just as it opened we got a table overlooking the ski slope. We had emmental white wine fondue and incredible fish and chips with a Dubai-acquired favorite for us, mushy minted peas. Trust me, they're tasty despite the name. Brits name their foods in some interesting ways. We also had cocktails, and I indulged in a Vanilla-Fig Daiquiri that was wonderful. Imagine a Fig Newton in a martini glass and you've got it. Yum.

Having missed the 6 PM showing (though here it's called the 1800 show) we went to the 2100 showing of Batman the Dark Knight in a surprisingly small theatre, subtitled in Arabic, which for some reason didn't distract from the action. We haven't seen Batman Returns, obviously a major oversight. If Heath Ledger doesn't receive a posthumous Oscar for his work I will be very surprised.

Catching a taxi home (you never, ever, ever drink any alcohol and then drive. They are very serious about zero tolerance) our driver, once he realised we were friendly and American, began to joke with us about our fellow countrymen abroad in Dubai. He's been a taxi driver for 15 years, and as we were pulling up to our hotel I asked him where he's from. Taliban! he said with a huge grin, and he laughed when I told Mike mostly in jest to bail out of the car.

One day early on we went to try and find the book Band of Brothers (Stephen Ambrose) to lend to a co-worker of Mike's who is travelling soon to Normandy to retrace the steps of his father during D-day in WWII. Books here are quite pricey and not all that easy to find, so I was really happy to find it. Poor Thomas had been asking for Maisy Mouse books every time we entered a book store. I'd had no luck for him, when finally I found some at Magrudy's Books three weeks later, which is destined to become a favorite place.

I had asked the booksellers at Borders Books if they had a children's book for learning the Arabic letters. (Mike has been learning them and I'd really like to as well, especially with Bethy for when she needs help with her Arabic homework.)

So sorry Madam, we don't have anything like that here.

Really? That seems wrong. They did have an Arabic book for learning English, but I'm afraid that's the wrong side of the equation for me. I looked in every bookstore, every children's education store again, for weeks, no go. Finally with it's discovery, Magrudy's came through on this as well, with the book Very Simple Arabic Script. Reading Arabic is coming slowly; Bethy and I are only sure of the "alif" which is "A" when we see it. The rest will come.

It sure does get exciting when the Arabic is printed in fonts...


Grannysue said...

Hi Natalie, I managed to leave a message on Josh/Jeni's page so here goes .... That ski slope could have been Alpental .... amazing what the dark and twinkling lights can do. Shopping looks fun, how are the prices?
Love, Susan

Natalie said...

Yay Aunt Sue! Well done!

I'm not much of a shopper, but one must do so out of self defense here. The prices, I think, are pretty equitable, and I do enjoy hunting down the good deals. Very fun. The malls are so beautiful that it's at least half the fun to just go and be overwhelmed.