Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Monday, August 20, 2012


Emirate Airlines is the best by many standards (by mine it is second, after Air Madagascar). We watch movies continuously just because we missed them and we don’t want to think what’s coming after we get in Dubai. Our girls travel by themselves back to the States for 10 days. As a homeschooling mother I have them under my sight most of the time, and as a traveling parent 24 hours a day with little exceptions. It is time to cut my umbilical cord and learn to live without supervising them.

We say our good-byes and hug and kiss. They go their way, to catch a transfer, we go ours, to customs. We wait in line and I observe: only men work, dressed in their white robes and spend most of the time rearranging their head-scarves. Some military marches from time to time, but everything is smooth and efficient, we get stamps in our passports: Salaam Dubai! (Sahl-aah-m) Hello!

We wake up around noon after 6 hours of sleep and at 4 we take the free shuttle to some mall from where we can take the subway to get to the tallest building in the world Burj Khalifa. As we enter the mall I notice a sign:

Around us we hear languages from around the world: Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German and so on. Just as in any mall, people are doing their things, but here is Ramadan, so we have electric live size camels, moving their necks and batting their plastic eyelashes and families standing in front of them to have their picture taken. Tents with pillows and signs explaining about the customs of Ramadan.

As long as we are inside it is a comfortable atmosphere. When we step outside, the heat engulfs us, melting our feet and squeezing the air out of our lungs. From the subway we have a speedy view of the Dubai: large streets of three lines, new cars, new buildings, shiny modern towers, kind of like enhancing each other. There are some construction sites, very well contained and clean. Very few people are walking the streets.

The shuttle that takes us from the metro to the Dubai Mall has the front of it reserved only for women. The mall is huge having different sections. 

The Souk is reserved only for jewelry and they are arranged on lanes, at least a hundred shops each with a beautiful display in their windows.

 Another section is for the abayas.

 Another for men and their dresses. There is even an ice skating ring where Ioan becomes the happy owner of two blisters. 

We move toward food court. Because of the Ramadan there is no public eating until the sun sets. Even chewing gum is considered an eating offense. Some shops are closed and some sell food, but sealed in a bag. In the food court all the tables are taken and there are huge lines for every shop (and there are many), the longest to KFC. We order our food and manage to find a spot to eat it, squished between the mall’s window and a closet. We are fortunate, because some men eat standing over the garbage pails and others sit directly on the floor.

Now that we ate, we hurry toward the fountain where a show of light, music and water will start soon enough. It’s similar with Bellagio’s from Las Vegas, only bigger. People line up around the pool and oooh and aaaah, but too quickly it is done. We take some more pictures of the Burj and then we go inside to wait in line for our turn to visit it.

There is a mix of white, black, stainless steel brushed or shiny that gives a masculine elegance, softened by curves and some arabesques. We enter the elevator that has multiple electronic screens and we watch as numbers follow each other until we get to 124. Our bodies didn’t feel the movement. We step onto a floor with windows floor to ceiling and from there into a similar one, only these windows have an open gap, through  which you can take pictures. The whole Dubai is lit up at our feet.

We watch another water show, silent this time, but with a high perspective. 

As we make our way down we take some time to read about the building, how the design was inspired from nature and then linked with Arabic symbols, how it was built and the challenges that they faced, the different records that it breaks. I looked at the photographs with the different teams and I see people from all over the world. This is an international triumph!

The next day we split up: Mihai goes to visit Abu Dhabi, and Ioan and I visit the pool, where the water is 30 C (86 F). We eat a buffet with traditional food and spend time in bed. We reunite, Mihai liked his excursion but was happy for me that I stayed put. We check out late and go to the airport. It is empty. It is the end of Ramadan and a feast day. That’s why they have in a special area carpet with pillows, a low table laden with tea paraphernalia and a group of Arabs, dressed in their usual, dancing next to each other and twirling some sticks.

We have some time to kill, our plane is at 2 am. We go to the food court to eat and look at the working people’s faces. The majority have Indian heritage and some Asian. I search in my memories, but there is no Arab working, except in the customs. I could say that I’m in India, but I know I’m not. It doesn’t feel like there, people are so serious, they don’t have that larger than life smile, just a professional one and their bodies are so rigid, like the uniform constraints them into a different civilization. But the money are good, with what they earn here they can keep the whole family, with the numerous uncles and cousins.

The airport

As we go through security I take my chance and ask if he speaks Arabic. How do you say Thank you? Chakran. And good bye? Maa Salaam. 

So this is it. Maa Salaam Dubai! 

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