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Monday, 10 October 2016

Day 12 - The Real Dubai

Our mid morning start to the day began with another wonderful Chef Anuzya breakfast, By 12:30 we were in a taxi and heading out to have a cultural experience which included lunch with some local men and women who sat with us and explained local traditions. There were about 20 tourists participating in this lunch. First we learned about the food that was laid out before us on a beautiful carpet. The local man next to us demonstrated how to eat our food with our hands. Some of us tried this and others were a bit uneasy about managing a stew like meal with our hands. But cutlery was available. The repast included two types of chicken stew, a veggie dish, salads and a Timbit like pastry for dessert. It was all very delicious. It was accompanied by local coffee and tea.

We were then introduced to local attire. We learned that the dress of both men and women in Dubai was not dictated by religion, but more so by the local climate. And then volunteers were recruited to try on local clothes. Monica and I were among the first up - out of both interest and wanting to amuse our kids. When you look at these pictures please keep in mind our outfits were put on over our usual clothing. Locals wear very little under their robes so they can keep cool.

We also were given a clear description of how people decided what they will wear (note: to view this video and, the one at the end of this post, you likely need to see it on computer with Flash).

At the end of the meal we felt very satisfied and said goodbye to our new friends

Following lunch we headed to see various Souks, which are older parts of the original city. There we wandered up ancient streets lined with vendors, most selling identical items and all greeting us and asking us to buy from them. Anuzya was an experienced Souk shopper and she guided us to the better shops where she also demonstrated how to bargain. She was masterful getting us 70% off the original quoted price with a combination of charm and aggressive techniques.

We transported ourselves between Souks on local ferry weaving between larger boats and water taxis. At the next Souk we found countless spices and are bringing home priceless Iranian saffron, cardomom and pink peppers.

From the Souk we headed out to the "real" Dubai - the Mall!

The Dubai Mall is apparently the largest mall in the world. As we walked through it it never seemed to end. Our first stop was a french coffee shop for Capachino as good as any Paris establishment. We then wandered for a few hours through the mall. We were struck by the familiarity of the mall. At least 90% of the stores have locations in Toronto and elsewhere in the world. It was also strange to see so many winter clothes, including sweaters, down vests and fur hoods. Clearly there are many tourists shopping!

Two observations about this mall and Dubai in general. There is a clear feeling of tolerance. The very large English bookstore had books on all subjects, including atheism. The shoppers were of all races and ethnic backgrounds and wore clothing that ranged from scanty dresses and shorts to full traditional burkas. Everyone shopped, mingled and there was no attention paid to how people dressed. Everyone was accepted!

Finally all shopped out we headed to a Pan Asian restaurant that provided an intimate view of the water fountain show. David and Anuzya picked the menu and everything was delicious. The Wagyu beef dumplings were the hit of the evening.

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