We finally headed out to explore the city. My goodness was I in for a big surprise. Expecting this exotic land tucked away in the corners of Arabia, I was waiting for the sounds, smells and sites of a foreign land. But I can’t explain how normal I felt. Not only because essentially the majority of the people are also foreigners, but America’s fingerprint was everywhere!
In America it seems like overnight that Spanish words showed up alongside English words on all the signs. In Dubai English words are paired up everywhere with Arabic words, even on their traffic signs.
Nduku and I were salivating for some indigenous food. It only took a moment for us to realize this western-influenced city-state had more modern restaurants than holes in the wall. They even advertise them on the highways.
Dubai has a population [in 2010] of 2.2 million people in the city, 3.4 million in the metro area. Of these millions of people, only 17% are Emirati. Imagine is only 17% of the United States was American!? The largest groups of these foreigners are Indian then Pakistani. Indians make up an amazing 42.3% of the population with Pakistanis composing of 13.3%. So we were in an Arabic country in which 55% of the people there were from the former British India.
Americans, to compare, make up 0.3% and that’s not a typo. Europeans make up 0.9% so seeing the Saudi-German Hospital – Dubai was an interesting partnership.
But going back to American influence, we then drove past Times Square, only not as many neon lights as New York. We didn’t get a chance to visit, but they have the Middle East’s first ever ice lounge called Chillout. You step into a sub-zero environment with the walls, tables, chairs and even your own personal glass with a cool mocktail, is made entirely out of ice.
Outside, though, it was relatively warm. During the summer months Dubai averages 105 degrees and reaching as high as 120 degrees! Though the temperature was in the low 80s, beads of sweat from the humidity was forming on my forehead. I don’t think I’d leave the house at 120 degrees. For those who do and have to catch a bus, luckily Dubai had the foresight to make the bus stops enclosed with air conditioning.
Of course, on the way home, where did we get a bite to eat? Arabic? Indigenous? Try McDonald’s. It seems like every gas station [or petrol station as they call it] has either a McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway.
But we didn’t get Big Macs or McFlurries. Have you ever had a Kofta?