The Ghetto

Ok… so maybe it wasn’t the ghetto, but on Saturday I definitely went to the seedier side of Dubai… and loved it!

Before you get all worried about my morals, it isn’t a ‘red light’ area, but the ‘genuine fake’ capital of the UAE! 

Al Karama.

I have never seen anything like it.  It was fantastic!

We started off by having lunch at a very basic Punjabi restaurant.  It was a bit scary, but the food was lovely.  That said, I have yet to find a recipe for Butter Chicken Curry that beats my ex-flat mate’s one!  I am doomed to disappointment for life!!

(Mind you, if you’re reading this chickie and want to send me the recipe, I would be eternally grateful!!)

So, after lunch we went for a look around the shops.  It was a bit intimidating to start with.  The “looky looky” men were out in force and as you walked by their shops, they would walk towards you listing what they sold.  It wasn’t too bad when the shops were only on one side, but when they were coming at you from both directions it hurt your ears a bit!

Also, does it look like I am the kind of girl who wants Juicy Coture (spelt incorrectly on purpose!) tracksuit in neon pink?  I sincerely hope not!!!

The best part of the “Looky Looky” men is their grasp of the English language.  They have learnt by watching things like ‘Only Fools & Horses and Bargain Hunt.  Cries of “cheap as chips” and “lubbly jubbly” (no, not “lovely jubbly”!) can be heard resonating around the dilapidated buildings for a good 5 block radius. 

And dilapidated it is.  This is not, dispite the amount of money being thrown around on a daily basis, a rich area.  All the money is handed over at the end of the day to the owners who are off living the life of riley somewhere.  Everywhere needs a good lick of paint, and balconys need to be made safe and secure again.  You know that these poor saps are working for a pitiful amount, and living 10 people to an apartment upstairs.   It is heartbreaking… when you are not being distracted by the rest of the sights and smells of the area.  It also makes you feel a bit mean for bartering, but then again, it is what is expected of you. 

Tough moral decision.

I really am hopeless about bartering.  I did very well and eventually got myself a lovely handbag for less than half of the original astronomical cost.  Actually, it was only because I was with my friend B and she stepped in and bought a handbag so that I could get mine!  I am very thankful to her for that!  There was a lovely pair of chanel pumps that got left behind though because I hadn’t quite got the hang of it.  I am sure that they will be there next time I go though and I will try again!

So, for anyone receiving a beautiful designer purse or wallet from now on, you pretty much are guaranteed that I took my life into my hands (maybe slightly dramatic!) and went to Al Karama to find you the perfect gift!!!

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Random Fact #3

There are some cultures here that believe as long as you wear a different vest every day, you can wear the same shirt two or three days (at least!) running.

Really?

My nose does not agree!

***these random facts may or may not be true… but this is what I have been told so am sharing with you***

Random Fact #2

Being gay is illegal, however it is perfectly acceptable for men to kiss (peck!) on the lips in greeting, and hold hands when walking along the street.

It’s apparently being white and overfriendly with another man that will get you in trouble!

***these random facts may or may not be true… but this is what i have been told so am sharing with you***

Random Fact #1

In order to conserve water which, of course, is a precious resource in the desert, any plants or grass in areas with a low number of people walking through are watered with sewage water.

Gross.

***these random facts may or may not be true… but this is what i have been told so am sharing with you***

More Strange Weather!

After the random blanket of fog on Friday morning (see “Crazy Weather”), Saturday started beautifully.  No fog,  no clouds, just sunshine.

I had however read in the papers that there was a giant sandstorm heading towards the UAE.  If it had continued on it’s projected path, it was due to clip the west of Abu Dhabi, leaving Dubai sand free!  After living in the place with palm trees, I am not a huge fan of “predicted paths” for storms.

Saturday morning saw me bring in everything from the patio, and secure all the doors and windows properly.  I know it sounds live over kill for a bit of sand in the air, but the winds were reported as being sustained at 80kmph.  That is lots!  Also, I haven’t got a cleaner yet so the thought of the sand blowing in my windows was a bit much for me to cope with!

Thankfully, there was no sand storm! 

(Saying that, I am quite intrigued to find out what they are like really!)

By the time we finished our shopping trip, and were driving back in the direction of home, we noticed that the sky was getting hazy, and more so the further towards home we got. 

This doesn’t cause problems, but it does create for some strange sights… or lack of them!

Can you see the buildings in the background?!

The road disappears in the distance!

You can usually see the beach from this point!

Look at the size of the sun!  Ok, so it’s just an illusion, but it’s still cool!

I do have to do a bit more research into these storms, and the effects they have.  I really know nothing about them and that is frustrating!  I mean, is it dust particles in the air that cause the haze?  Who knows.  Will let you know when I do!

Crazy Weather!

I don’t really have too much to say on this subject.  A couple of things though…

It is warm most days, but the evenings still drop cool.  Not cold, but having a pashmina to pop around my shoulders is beneficial!

The weekend before last it climbed to 36C/98F and was blissful.  Then in the week it was back down in the early 20’s.  Go figure.

And then there was this morning.  I woke up to thick fog.

This picture is from my apartment on the 14th floor:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Wow!

That is pretty much the only word that will sum up my experience of this mosque in one word.  It was absolutely amazing!

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates.

It is the 8th biggest mosque in the world.

It holds 41,000 worshippers which makes it the 3rd biggest mosque in the world for capacity!

This all translates to “bloody huge”!!!!

I don’t really even know where to start.  I have random facts that I remember.  I think that I am just going to list them because there is now way to make this flow otherwise… well, that is what I think at the moment, anyway!

**** NB:  These ‘factoids’ are correct to my memory.  They may not be 100% accurate.  I am not a tour guide, not an encyclopedia!!****

Factoid #1 – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is buried here.  He is the founder of the United Arab Emirates and was the first President.  I discovered that they really don’t like you taking pictures of the area he is buried in… after I took the picture!  Oops! 

Factoid #2 – there are separate prayer rooms for men and women.  Women are not encouraged to come to the mosque, but the men are expected to.  If you are unable to attend, you may pray wherever you are.  If you are injured and unable to move, you must just pray with your mind, foregoing all the up and down-ness of the prayer ritual.

Factoid #3 – there are male and female washrooms in all mosques so that the abolutions may be performed before prayer.  This is a cleansing ritual and must be carried out each time you pray.  You wash your hands and arms, your feet and ankles, you face and your head.  This cleans you of any dirt.  You also must rinse out your mouth.  This cleans away any bad words that you have used.  Once this has been completed, you are deemed cleansed and ready to present yourself to God for prayer.  As a side bar, this can be done with sand if you are in the desert but they suggest not to try to clean your mouth with it!

Factoid #4 – the carpet in the mosque is 61,000 square feet and weighs approximately 35 tonnes.  It is the biggest hand stitched/knotted carpet in the world.  All the materials were bought to the mosque and then put together so it was custom-made on site.  I would like to repeat this part in case you missed it… this carpet is stitched by hand.  Insane!

Factoid #5 – the carpet has lines woven into it to indicate where the worshippers should stand for prayer.

Factoid #6 – in prayer, a muslim should stand shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot with the person next to them, and actions should be performed in perfect synchrony.  This is to make sure that the devil can not pass in between them.

Factoid #7 – the ceiling in the non-domed prayer room is a direct reflection of the pattern of the carpet.

Factoid #8 – until Doha muscled in, the mosque was home to the worlds largest chandelier!  It measures approximately 10 meters wide, and 15 meters long.  It is Swarovski crystals and is very pretty indeed!

Factoid #9 – there is no air-conditioning!  The air is kept constantly moving by large fans which are ‘hidden’ in the middle of 4 columns.  They are designed to dray the hot air out.  It keeps the mosque at a constant temperature all year round.

Factoid #10 – there is one main wall that you must face to pray.  It is called the Qiblah.  It runs perpendicular to Mecca.

Factoid #11 – there is a section in the middle of the Qiblah that is decorated with the 99 names of God.  You are allowed to use any of these names to name your child, but you must have the word “Al” in front of it.  “Al” translates to “of, therefore you are calling your child “of God”.

Factoid #12 – there is a semi-circular section in the middle of the names of God called the Mirab.  It is made of white marble and decorated with white and yellow gold.  This is the gateway to heaven and depicts the milk and honey river that runs through there.

Factoid #13 – if it looks gold, it is.  If it looks silver, it is white gold.

Factoid #14 – The main ‘door’ into the prayer area is pictured below.  It is not a great shot for colour, but gives you a great indiction of how big these doors are!  They weigh approximately 2.5 tonnes, and are decorated in gold leaf.  Each of the different colours are a separate piece of glass, and put together by hand.  The same goes for all the windows.  All of the glass in used is hand-picked and from Venice.

Factoid #15 – The walls, and the floors inside and outside of the main building, are made of white Italian marble.  Each different colour that you see is a separate tile.  The patterns that the colours make are all put together by hand.

Factoid #16 – There are prayer clocks everywhere.  They will tell you what time prayers are each day.  The times on the clock are: Farjar – Sunrise, Shoroq – morning, Dhuhr – noon, Asr – afternoon, Marqrib – sunset and Isha – night.

Factoid #17 – Before each prayer time, two calls are made.  One is approximately 15 minutes before and one is approximately 5 minutes before prayer time.  Each mosque has speakers outside the building so that people can hear.  The speakers at this mosque are numerous and hidden in tall statues, which also house the lights so that the mosque can be clearly seen at night.

Factoid #18 – There are lots of Minarets in the design of the mosque.  This is another place where speakers are situated so that you can hear call to prayer.

I think that is it really.  I have been writing this over a couple of days so that I can remember everything, but there is nothing else now!  I will definitely be going back again at some point, so if there is anything that I have missed out, I will let you know!!