I returned to United Arab Emirates for my originally scheduled Dubai time, was met by Johnny yet again, and returned to the comforts of Indian hospitality. The plan for Dubai was mostly to continue my relaxation and experience of the local scene, rather than to focus on the tourist spots. After getting settled, the first step to this process was to hop in a car and drive over to a nearby emirate to supply the party that night. The UAE is comprised of seven separate emirates and each has the freedom to enforce their rules to different degrees. Throughout the Muslim world, alcohol is generally a no-no, and though Dubai allows for you to go to bars, stocking for a party is pretty much impossible. So after driving about 2 hours north Johnny, Hiba and I arrived in an emirate with a more relaxed stance on the issue. Hoards of people were streaming out of the store with shopping carts filled with opaque black bags. Inside, they pretty much had everything and it was cheap so we really stocked up. Once we had what we needed, we just had to bootleg it back to Dubai without getting stopped by the police. One the way we made a miserable stop in Al Sharjah to pick up a sound system.
Not the best photo, but you get the idea.
When we got back to Johnny’s place, time was running short before guests would be arriving so we scurried to get everything set up. That night was a celebration in honor of the Ganta boys’ birthdays and also of Hiba moving to Canada for school; the 3-way party really ballooned the guest list. They rented out the rooftop pool for the night, got some DJs connected to the sound system, and as people started showing up really turned it into quite an event. Having spent a number of days in the country already intermingling with the locals, I was surprised at just how many people I recognized. There were a lot of people from the house party disaster from the week before and several of the church friends I did dinner with. Things raged late into the night and it wasn’t until the sun was coming up that things officially finished up. I handed off my camera to one of the girls and she was documented the event.
uHN tiSS uHN tiSS uHN tiSS
After sleeping in really late, we did a really nice steak dinner in honor of the birthdays. The meat was extremely thick, pink, & tender and was almost certainly the nicest home-cooked slab of meat I’ve ever consumed. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, recovering, and just hanging around. In the evening, we walked over to Kung Fu Panda’s place (one of the party DJs) and then grabbed a bit more shawarma before moving on to The Music Room. This was just some club were we saw a few familiar faces, danced a bit, and where I tactfully evaded some high school girl’s uncomfortably obvious advances. We were all running on fumes so getting back the base for bed was a beautiful thing.
The next morning was finally to be my last, and I had very few things planned for the day. Johnny had a life and a job so I hung around for a bit before heading off with Sam. He needed to meet someone but dropped me off at the Jameria Beach Park where I strolled around for a bit. We had heard some rumors that I could ride a camel there, but after walking around for a bit conceded that that box would remain unchecked. I’ve got a number of unconquered Arabian countries yet, so I’ll have my chance for sure. I returned that evening on an empty stomach and decided to swing by the shawarma shop to grab a couple and then returned to hang out with the Gantas for the remaining hours before my departure. As soon as I arrived back inside, I was informed that shawarma had just been ordered for dinner, meaning I would be eating a bit more…
Finally, after I was all packed up we did a quick photo shoot with the kids and I said my goodbyes. We rolled off to the airport, said our last goodbyes and then parted ways.
I’m second from the right.
It had been a long three weeks in that part of the world, but I really appreciated the opportunity for me to go and learn so much about the Gulf and Muslim culture. Even though each of the countries were Muslim, they all had their own unique flavors about them. The opportunity for me to drop by a few days in a number of them really allowed me the chance to compare and contrast each of the cultures. While I liked each country for different reasons, Oman was the most easy going of the lot and United Arab Emirates the most fun. In fact, Dubai seems like the land of milk and honey and will certainly be a place that I look for work when I come up on the end of my time in Japan. Dubai is not only positioned in an amazing location for further exploration of the region, but its also a place where my background should make it easier to find work. Dubai has a very international work environment filled with young expats from all over the world, plus the 0% income tax makes a paycheck in Durhams 30% higher than in dollars… Time will tell, but everything about this trip and especially Dubai was great. Massive shout out to all of my hosts who truly made the experience unforgettable.