Last night I found myself in a diamond factory. One moment we were in the flashy well-lit store, looking at gems…. as you do on a Friday night. The next moment we were being led around the back to a small workroom full of Bengali Indians cutting, polishing and setting diamonds. You could say it was a quintessential Dubai moment.
The day started like it has done for the past week, teaching a class at my new place of employment Yoga Room in Jumeriah Lake Towers. I live just five minutes walk away in a neighbouring building. My apartment is on level one, which I love as I don’t have to waste time in the lift. Apparently it had been on the market for a while, as it seems most people don’t care about lifts and prefer a view.
I’ve spent the last week exploring my neighbourhood. I’ve worked out that I can walk to the beach in half-an-hour. To do so involves crossing a massive six-lane highway, the artery of Dubai – Sheik Zayad Road, via an air-conditioned, enclosed pedestrian bridge.
(View from the opposite side of Sheik Zayad road – my building is on the far left. This is the road between me and the beach!)
(Marina beach – this is Dubai winter by the way – many people think the water is too cold to swim! They should try Bondi mid-summer!)
This bridge also leads me to the Dubai Marina. It has a good atmosphere at night, the outdoor cafes along the boardwalk full of people smoking shisha.
I’m doing a lot of walking at the moment, as the weather is perfect. I’m making the most of it before the onset of summer. I notice that all the restaurants and supermarkets offer home delivery. Apparently you can have anything delivered, from anywhere, at anytime. I have a feeling this is because during the summer months, taking a stroll to the shops is not a welcome option.
Dubai is incredibly international. People from all over the world are converged here. In a trip to the mall the range of accents and languages overhead is amazing – British, North American, Russian, French, Arabic, Hindi. Woman in singlets and hot pants shop alongside Arabic men wearing dishdashes.
Yesterday, before the diamond shop experience, I was invited to lunch at the home of the owner of the Yoga Room, Joumana Saber. Her family’s history was reflective of Dubai’s diversity. Her mother was born in Kuwait, of Palestinian and Greek heritage. Her father is Lebanese. Joumana herself was born in Dubai and educated in Canada.
Friday is the beginning of the weekend in Dubai and the day people go to Mosque and spend with their family. We ate a traditional Lebanese meal of fatoush salad, hummus, bread, lentils, and fried fish, bought fresh that morning from the Dubai fish markets. It was delicious, finished off with sweets and Turkish coffee. I loved it.
After a few hours lazing around digesting, we headed to the Gold and Diamond Market. Nick, Joumana’s friend visiting from Canada, was buying his girlfriend an engagement ring. He had already chosen it, but was coming back to pay and pick it up before flying back to Canada that night. The diamond hadn’t been set yet so we spent around 15 minutes watching the tradesman at work, while also trying to keep Nick calm who was becoming increasingly nervous, maybe from the pending purchase or what the ring purchase would then entail…popping the question!
It wasn’t just us in the workroom. A couple arrived carrying new golf clubs. They were getting diamonds set into the head of the clubs. I have a feeling this might become a signature catchphrase…but really…only in Dubai!!
(A very happy and somewhat nervous Nick with the finished product with the diamond crazed golfers in the background)