Monday, September 28, 2009

I saw the sign...

The signs in Dubai are all conveniently in English as well as Arabic which works so well for us. Extremely thoughtful of the Emiratis. (Good for them, good for us.) Not only all municipal signs, but also by law, all business sign names must be in both languages, and the lettering must be the same size. Interestingly enough, the font also translates...from Coca-Cola to Subway, it's hilarious to see. I love this!

It's really helped us learn the Arabic letters and sounds as the names of products and companies we know are phonetically translated. However, it's also interesting how many ways the exact same word can be spelled. Umm Suqeim (the most recognised spelling), which is one of the areas of Dubai, has the most variations that I've noticed. I've started to photograph the different versions; I've seen 7 so far. I am sure there will be more.

There are of course lots of misuses of English on signs, some of them that have me privately rolling on the floor, laughing my guts out, but those happen everywhere in the world, and I can hardly publicly poke fun at the person trying their best to use my language when I have next to zero command of his.

My first personal experience with signage difficulties happened when we first got here. This was hanging on the inside of our hotel door:

It said this on one side and "Please Do Not Disturb" on the other. As there was only one sign, I figured that this said, you know, "please clean the room" and hung it this side out several days in a row.

Boy, did I wonder why on earth the staff wouldn't come clean our room...

Finally those nice room staff (Selvam and Venkat, you may rember them,) brought me the other door hanger that says, in English and guessed it..."Please Clean the Room."

Well, duh.

Moving on, we've all seen the bathroom signs in the USA, stick figures. Enchantingly lei'd and Hawaiian-shirted on the Islands, but usually plain, practical, and utilitarian. In the parks here they have special ones:

Love that Burqua mask. Once inside a bathroom it is not uncommon to see a sign like this:

Personally, I'm always happy to see TP at all. We Westerners are kind of weird for using it, compared to the rest of the world, anyway. This sign, before you think it was some place with old delicate plumbing, was posted in the ladies room at ACE Hardware.

They also provided a nice garbage can next to the toilet for you to put the TP in. That's not always the case either.

This next sign had me in hysterics in Jordan:

I guess that's kind of what they are...

Here is a sign all in English. Not that usual, but it was at the Sailing Club, and, like serving pork, they can do their own thing. The Humps bit is yet another of my favorite things in Dubai.

It looks like a vicious attack critter, sneaking along the ground, doesn't it? Crouched down, ready to spring?

There are speed bumps, and then there are speed humps. One day our friends let us know there are 9 bumps along the road from the freeway driving to our villa and 12 on the way back out. No question, these bumps are a constant source of irritation getting in and out of the area where we live. But as you can drive over them relatively fast in an SUV, not too huge of a deal. Not great for the car over time.

Howwever, heaven help you if you go over a speed hump without slowing down. You shall be flying, my friend! Houston, we have a problem...

While not all bumps are created equal, and some might give you a real jolt (you have to learn where those are), the humps cannot be ignored. I saw a particularly expensive sports car go over one the other day after dark. I do believe it was a Ferrari.

The driver must not have seen the unpainted hump until it was too late...the first time I went over that one, though it was signed, I didn't see it until the last second and even slamming on the brakes was sure I was going to break something on Bird Car when we came back to earth. This car came down off the other side with a crash, sparks flying everywhere.

I think I might have laughed.

The HUMPSAHEAD signs tempt even a law-abiding sort like myself as something I would very much like to have. I would also hazard a guess that the CAMEL CROSSING signs would also be pretty great crowd-pleasers. Not that one would want to steal in Dubai. Generally speaking, if you have to be a criminal, you'd have to be a really dumb criminal to try to be one here.

This next one looks like "have a nice day"

and please feel free to do so, but actually it's my favorite Arabic letter, the letter for the T sound, called taa'.
Don't you love it? Taa! Have a nice day!

And if that doesn't make you smile, try this sign on for size:

These squid balls are sold everywhere. I have NO idea what they are, and frankly, I just don't feel the need to try them out anytime soon...


Tanya said...

Kikiam or squid balls are 'fish balls' in Singapore made from stuff like 'surimi'and often cuttlefish not really squid- 'same same but different' I eat them but then I like the dried anchovies that are sold as a human snack in Asia but a cat snack in NZ.
Love the signs. We have the ubiquitous gun in a red circle with a line through it at many places you go and sometimes a syringe and a grenade one too here in Cambodia.

Natalie said...

hey need a "no grenades" sign, huh? Sheesh! Tough neighborhood!

I haven't worked up to kippers for breakfast yet, so, even with my quest to try new things, probably won't be "cat-snacking" anytime soon. Thanks for the education! I love hearing about other places and such interesting lives! :)

Mom2ABJ said...

Great post, Natalie!
I especially loved those ginormous (that's a word, right?) speed humps behind Mall of Emirates across Lulu and Rashid Centre near Bethy's school ... are they still there?
The sign that always has me take a second take is "To let" ... I thought they were missing an "i".

Time to get together for coffee soon!! Will send email, ISA :)

Abid said...

Nice post! Squid balls are dumplings maybe?

Cathy O. said...

Happy to see the King of Balls finally made it to the blog... :-)

sherrip said...

I wouldn't have known what that hump sign was either, but before we started the bike trip in France, they showed us pictures of a few key traffic signs we needed to know--no typical octagonal stop sign, there, and everywhere, the hump sign, looks just like that one. But there are no words, just the traffic sign. Think I would have figured that one out the hard way if they wouldn't have pointed it out.

dorothy said...

the sign post makes me think of my all time favorite one in front of Darigold in Issy. The No P on Bridge sign (as in no parking) but I wonder how many teen boys have snuck down at night over the past 30 years and Peeed off that bridge....I know at least a few!

Natalie said...

What WAS it with that "no peeing" sign in Issaquah?! Why does it stand out so? Everybody knows that sign!

Or perhaps natives of Issaquah are just that way. Very possible.

Jill said...

I love these signs!!

We went to Dubai several times when we were posted in Muscat... a quick 5 hour drive and we were there... in the place where NYC meets Vegas.

Nice place you have here... :)