Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Mall of the Emirates

Running short of essential supplies (green tea) and in danger of death by minibar chocolate, I decided to walk up to the Mall of the Emirates, one of the biggest Malls in the world. It's about 15 minutes walk from our hotel here, and halfway I turned around and took a picture of the way I'd come. Yes, the hotel is literally in the middle of a construction site.

The Mall itself is quite familiar to those of us who have spent too much time in Basingstoke Mall ("Festival Place"). The only real difference is that it's ten times larger and there are a few more people around in Arabic clothing, not that you can see any in the picture.

The big surprise is the huge picture window on one side of the Mall, through which you can see the indoor slope of Ski Dubai. Yes, it's also enormous. In the summer it's more than 40 degrees C outside, but I'm sure that doesn't worry them. A rather tedious Mall video I took (3gp, 90 seconds, 2MB) can be downloaded here.

In case I'm giving the impression that Dubai is a building site with a few Malls, the place where we're working - called The Greens - has a more tranquil, even an oasis-feel to it, as in the picture below. Still the ubiquitous cranes though.

One of the pleasant things about Dubai -apart from the warm weather! - is that it feels entirely safe. This lack of crime is explained by the fact that almost 90% of the population are expatriate: the indian construction workers, Pakinstani taxi drivers, Filipino hotel staff and European and American "professionals", as we like to be called.

Dubai law is draconian as regards expats: you can basically be deported for almost anything, and you can never come back. For example: suppose you were here with your family and your kid did something silly, like spray-painting some graffiti. You and your family will be deported. I hate to say this, but it works (there is, for example, absolutely no graffiti on the many available surfaces).

You may recall we have a Radio 1 DJ, "Grooverider" currently doing a four year term here because the Dubai authorities found a spliff in his luggage when he flew in to DJ a gig last November. They don't mess around.