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Glenys’s Travel Diary

Friday, 23 Mar 2007

Location: United Arab Emirates

MapIt’s my first entry so here goes. Today is Friday, and the first day of the weekend.

Last night was a wedding and birthday all in one evening and being a beautiful balmy Dubai night, the time melted away. I started the evening at Mina Seyahi where John was celebrating his 60th birthday. We sat outside at the Barasti Bar close to the sea. John was in good spirits, as always, enjoying the moment. I reluctantly left only an hour later as Satya ( DWC colleague) arrived to take me to the wedding of Manal, a gorgeous young local woman I teach.

We drove to the Trade Centre and searched for Zabeel Hall where the betrothal was to take place. We eventually found the venue by following a trail of local women, many wearing burkas and arrived to be greeted at the door by a line of the bride’s relatives. One of our B.Ed students spotted us ( as non Emiratis that wasn’t difficult) and whisked us past the line of family members ( all women of course) who shook hands with the guests. We were immediately, and constantly waited on by a stream of women serving coffee and the best sweets I’ve had in Dubai – chocolate coated walnuts, dates, apricots, pistachios… amazing. The table had finger food – sushi, pastries, salads, and fresh orange juice. Huge bottles of perfume were offered to all the guests at regular intervals. You just dip a long glass stick in the bottle and swipe it on your wrist (the local guests put it under their arms on their dresses!) so we all smelled … the same I guess! And so the evening proceeded with guests arriving and leaving, and food being served until 11.00pm when the bride eventually arrived and walked slowly up and down the catwalk with endless cameras filming the event. Around the stage little boys doing their gun throwing dance to Arabic music.

We tried to estimate the cost of all this – we were told around 1000 guests – bride’s dress possibly 50 to 100,000dhs! – tables attended to by 3 - 4 staff each and so it goes on. Manal’s dress full of beads, earrings and necklace to die for….

We left at 12.30. The groom ( a cousin – probably 2nd cousin) still hadn’t arrived. It would have been a long day for Manal beginning at 8.30am with waxing and henna, makeup, dressing and then a series of photographs and filming for most of the day. The men’s event would have been somewhere else in the city with the blokes doing their thing independently. This is what our DWC students dream about!