Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dubai - Ancient and Modern

On our way to London Sue and I were grateful to have a couple of days stopover in Dubai. This modern, bustling city is a monument to middle east oil money, yet it also has a depth of history in trading of herbs and spices, gold and pearls. Above all it sits in the context of Islam, albeit a wealthy, liberal Islam which is trying to build bridges with the West.
Our camel ride
Women in Burkha, the call to prayer from many mosques and frequent reminders about dressing modestly made Islam obvious.
We enjoyed swimming in the Gulf  (interesting Muslim women had their own separate beach where they could swim without men). We also did a touristy desert safari in four wheel drive vehicles over massive sand dunes, watched an exhibition of falconry, had a short camel ride and experienced a bedouin type meal.
This time highlighted the harsh desert environment and the importance of water and cool shelter. Falcons can only live here in the cooler six months. Today water is provided by desalination plants.
I wonder if the sheer challenges to survive in this environment have led to a drive to have the biggest and the best of everything.  We saw the Burj Khalifa  the tallest building in the world.
Guess what the rectangular shaped building below is going to be?

It will be the world's largest photo frame. Samsung are installing lasers that will create an enormous digital photo. The oil wealth has transformed this region but it has also led to obscene excess. Ice cream at the restaurant at the top of the tower hotel below that costs $1,500 a serving. 22 carat gold dresses. Lamborghini and Ferrari at every turn.
Burj Al Arab - not the hotel we stayed in.
Gold necklaces in Old 

I guess the challenge we all face is "How will we use the wealth God has given us?"

The old city of Dubai was famous as the place pearl divers and pearl merchants sold their wares as well as spice traders and gold merchants. We saw this Iranian safron in the old quarter.

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