Christmas in Dubai

Kaleidoscope of colors everywhere today.  Sang Christmas carols with Christians from 20  – 30 nations, together in church on land provided by a Muslim government.  Met a lot of people, including a swarm of US Sailors and US Marines bussed in from their ship, now docked in Dubai.  They, too, are on their way to Muscat and Salalah.  They are here for an exercise, so our accommodations will be much nicer.  Each one had a story of family and children left behind as they spend their Christmas far away from home serving you and me.

After church, we taxied to Ibn Battuta Mall again.  Words cannot capture our experiences today.  The mall was filled with families dressed in their very best clothes, women in delightful, filmy layered colors, everyone milling around in a kaleidoscope of hues, cultures, and ethnicity, with languages of all kinds floating past.  It was so beautiful to see -and all this was surrounded by the already colorful and textured walls and ceilings of the themed mall.  Tom and I ate on the patio out of doors then returned to Starbucks just to relax, people watch and read.

People of all religions greeted us with, “Merry Christmas.”  It was so very warm and welcoming, not to mention surprising.  The only thing missing today were the rich aromas from the spice shops at the souk yesterday, but there were marvelous smells wafting from the hookah (spell?) machines – do they have a name?

As I sat in Starbucks, I began rereading “Mother without a Mask”. It brought tears to my eyes now that I have seen in person the changes in the country since the idyllic time during which her story begins.  I enthusiastically recommend the book to anyone who loves this part of the world.

Now we are washing our clothes getting all ready for our move to the Musendam Peninsula – we won’t have time tomorrow.

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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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