I haven’t been well lately, so my days have mainly been spent lurking at home, doing contract work, studying, knitting and watching Netflix. Living the dream, truly.
I found a very handy website the other day that told me about all the proposed building works on in Dubai (you might need to type in ‘Business Bay – Dubai’ to get my location). According to this map, this 95-story behemoth is planned for the empty space next to our building on Sheikh Zayed Road, and a Paramount Hotel is being built on the opposite side, facing the water canal. There are an awful lot of buildings planned… but whether they will actually get built is another question altogether. It seems to be a very volatile market here, and at some point, I imagine the demand for housing is going to have to decrease (or be outpaced by production). Our view of the Burj is going to be partially obscured by Forte 1 and 2 (a two bedroom apartment in these buildings can be yours for a cool 2 million AED), Il Primo 1 and 2 and The Address Residences Dubai Opera. That’s at least 1000 additional apartments, all within a few hundred meters of each other. It is crazy. Most of the buildings are constructed by the same two companies, EMAAR and Damac, which makes for an even weirder, SimCity like experience.
The licensing of name brands here is fascinating too. The west obviously sells, and unlike the situation in countries like China, there are plenty of local businesses willing to buy into licensing and franchising agreements (and locals willing to spend up large to be seen with certain brands). At Dubai Mall, we have anchor stores of Galeries Lafayette, Bloomingdales, Debenhams and Marks and Spencer’s, and hundreds of other American stores and restaurants like GAP, Banana Republic, Shake Shack, Magnolia Bakery, P.F. Changs, The Cheesecake Factory, Aeropostale and Hollister. At the other end of the scale, there is store after store of luxury products… Cartier, Tiffanys, Chopard, Gucci, Dior (and Dior Kids!), Fendi, Dolce and Gabbana, Christian Louboutin… consumerism is rife. There is a Trump golf course, which seems ironic given his friendly attitude towards Muslims. My favorite failed-licensing attempt were the Boris Becker, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher towers. Totally logical connection with building construction there.
It doesn’t really surprise me that people here are so obsessed with fancy brands and name dropping. There isn’t a heck of a lot going on here culturally, so I guess society naturally gravitates to celebrity. Justin Bieber has a concert here in the weekend, so I’m bracing myself for local social media Bieber-fever… about eight years behind the rest of the world. Every time a member of the royal family blinks an eyelid (or eats a 24k gold burger, it seems) it makes the news. In saying that, it didn’t make the news when a helicopter rattled past our apartment VERY low the other day… which we are sure was carting around someone royal.
The other night, Matt and I went to Dubai Garden Glow, which was the tacky-someone-threw-up-Christmas-lights-all-over-the-show park that I mentioned in an earlier post. It was a very hot day… about 41 degrees. By the time it was starting to get dark and we headed out, it was around 38 degrees. Unperturbed – the park is shutting down for the summer soon – we visited anyway.
We went to the dinosaur park first. If you ever want to see some creaky animatronic dinosaurs shuddering around awkwardly, this is the place! There only seemed to be about three different calls, and I’m pretty sure one of them was an elephant. Those of you following my snapchat story were in for a real treat that night. A++. Would trade again.
After that, we headed to the lights, which were actually kind of cool. Tacky, yes, and all over the show in that Dubai-lets-cover-all-our-bases-instead-of-stopping-while-we-are-ahead kind of way. But it was a nice way to spend the evening. It was still crazy hot though. Some of the lights didn’t make a lot of sense. We found a surfing kangaroo on a giant wave, next to a tree with an Australian accent telling a confusing story about Easter bunnies and dinosaurs (which seemed mildly inappropriate in a Muslim country). The surfing kangaroo wasn’t even a part of Garden Glow, and was there because Dubai is the sister city of the Gold Coast. I suppose they are both soul-less skyscraper cities, so that part makes sense!
Anyway, we enjoyed the very-Dubai experience of Garden Glow, and some of the lights were quite pretty. We passed on the food though…. I’ve never seen so many dicey looking fairground vendors in my life. It all looked rather old… they really didn’t have the throughput to make us feel anything was very fresh. There was an angry sounding Turkish man selling ice cream, and we got lots of m’aamsirs would you like some strawberries? I’m surprised no one offered us Khlav Khalash.
Nick and Candyce arrive tonight – straight into the 38 degrees it is supposed to be at 11pm tonight – and are staying for a week. I’ve also finally found a bargain on Dubai equivalent of Trade – Dubizzle. It’s generally very slim pickings on there – everything is so expensive here, no one wants to sell individual things off cheap (whole house lots for expats abandoning the country though – they can be had for a bargain, if you like hideous cheap Arabic crap). I managed to get a cake tin and moulds from Muji for 10AED. The man even stood at the metro gate so I didn’t have to swipe out and back again, and my whole metro trip was 3AED. Not bad at all!