Ibn Battuta and Star Wars


“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . ”

After unpacking in our hotel, our first adventure was to a mall based on the travels of Ibn Battuta, a Middle Eastern Marco Polo.  The theme-based mall has six courts based on places he visited – Andalucia,  China, Persia, India, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Every franchise you could imagine is here plus local stores and carts, even Border’s Bookstore, which has closed down in the States.  We found a baklava cart – baklawa here – and bought a small box to enjoy with our Starbuck’s.  After buying a few groceries, we saw there was a theatre there, so we finally were able to see the new Star Wars.  It was so moving -Tom and I both cried over the last 10 to 15 minutes, as I am now remembering.

After the movie, the locals were around up until that point we saw mostly only non-Emeratis.  When they, finally, began arriving, we began seeing women in stunning versions of the basic black shroud – gold and black, silver and black, faces visible or eyes only.  Perhaps half with husbands in either flowing white robes with the characteristic red cheched head dress and black band holding it in place.  Forty years ago, Tom and I were taught these were kuffiya, Iqal, and abaya but that is not true here – don’t remember to local names.

Now, this morning, we are cleaned and washed and ready to decide where to go.  It is the Prophet’s birthday, a day off for some workers and for Muslims but a normal work day for many, many support personnel.

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M.A., Middle Eastern and North African Studies. Wanderer. Author, "When Freedom Called: at the front and home front in the Gulf War", 2011.

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