It was a long way to Dubai and India. In fact, its taken me this long to get over jet lag since returning and getting my thoughts together about the trip so I can do a decent recap of the trip.
It was a very interesting place. In fact, after spending a few days there, I realized that if the signs weren't in both Arabic and English and there wasn't a periodic "call to prayer" from the Mosque nearby the hotel, that I wouldn't have realized I was outside the US. It felt very familiar, the taxis were the same as here and the mall across the street was pretty much like most in the US, except bigger. It definitely has a shopping culture. When I entered the food court, I knew that if I didn't like the food in the local restaurants, I knew where to come for a "taste of home" In the food court was a McDonald's (expected), Burger King, KFC, Subway, but the big surprise was there was a Krispy Kreme!! That was almost too much. In addition, there was a children's play area there with a carosel playing "Stars and Stripes Forever." Very strange given I knew I was 7,000 miles from home.
I did go to church twice while I was there. There was a major Catholic Church, but it was in a compound and didn't look much like a church from the outside. I guess they were keeping a low profile. However, the people seemed very devout. There was a grotto with a statue of Our Lady in it with candles in niches next to it. The church itself was very modern. There were no missals or hymnal, but everything including responses, hymn lyrics, and readings was projected onto the walls on either side of the altar. This was almost necessary because of the size of the church and layout, not everyone could see the altar, but they could see the projections. Also, when not projecting the responses, etc., it projected a camera view of the priest and altar, so the actions of the Eucharist could be seen.
The World Trade Center where the Arab Health Conference was held was very much like any convention center in this country. The architecture, particularly of their office buildings was pretty interesting. Probably because they just started building up the city, they have more room to build structures that don't fit the straight up and down geometry that we are used to seeing in our cities. Some of the buildings look like they have chunks out of them, some look like ships sails, and other fantastic configurations. The building that is going to be the tallest building in the world when complete, is mostly finished, but it doesn't seem to be as tall as it really is because its out away from any other buildings, so you don't get perspective unless you get close to the bottom of it, then you realize how really tall it is.
I went on a Dhow dinner cruise while I was there. Dhows are work boats that move a lot of cargo around. Dubai has a canal that goes through the center of town and a lot of Dhows have been converted into floating restaurants. They are all adorned with different patterns of lights. I tried to take many pictures of them and the buildings we were passing, but due to the low light, distance (flash wasn't very effective) and movement of the Dhow, I wasn't very successful, though I did get a couple of good pictures.
Finally, I went to the Souk, which is an outdoor (kind of) shopping area with a lot of different stores. But there is the same kind of store in each area. One area is the Gold Souk, another area is the Textile Souk, there is an electronic Souk (sounds kind of oxymoronic timewise) and of course there is the Fish Souk. I didn't go to this last one, but I heard about it. I had enough of fish markets after the big one in Tokyo. I'm including a picture of a shop in the Gold Souk.
Well, this has gotten long enough. I'll talk about my trip to India in my next post. Till later