Monday, 25 May 2009

The UAE Of Old Is Better Than UAE Today

I would not like to live in UAE now because it has been taken over completely by the western world and its influence.

When I lived in UAE it was such a wonderful place, non of the OTT glitz and greed of today.

The large apartment Omran rented for me cost just 6,000 dirhams a year (yes that does say six thousand) I dont even think you could rent a matchbox for that in Dubai now. And over the years the rent rose to at the max just £30,000 a year. Now I hear its hard to find anything under 70,000.
200 Dirhams would get you a trolley full of food from Choithrams plus an outfit or two from their clothing section.

Taxi's did not have meters and I remember a trip from Karama to the old Chicago Beach Hotel in Jumeriah where I used to go every day cost just 10 Dirhams. Also there were so many taxis they used to fight for your business, tooting their horns to get your attention, unlike today when you can wait ages to grab a cab.
The strip of road where Chicago Beach Hotel used to be is now full of glitzy hotels including the Burj Al Arab. But back in my day, there was virtually nothing along that road and Chicago Beach was one of the main hotels in that area.

Here is a pic of it back in its day and how remote the area was. The beach was virtually empty with the exception of some German tourists. It was to be many many years before the westerners got to hear of how great UAE was and make it one of the top tourist destinations (and in my honest opinion sadly ruin its real culture and heratige)

Of course there were western expats, mainly British to be honest, and mainly familes. Now I am told it is full of single people all out for the time of their lives, getting blind drunk and flouting the laws of the country. I thank god I left before seeing UAE turn into another Costa Del Sol (with glitz of course).

Some of my favorite things about UAE

BUKHOOR ...(wonderful scented wood or pastels burnt over coals..Omran's aunts used to make the most beautiful pastels whose fragrance beat anything sold in shops such as Rasasi

LOCAL DRESS...I adored the traditional Emiriati dress and used to wear it daily from my second year in UAE. I used to have such beautiful ones hand tailored for me, non of those cheap things bought from the souk..and I always bought my Abaya's from a lovely shop in City Center. I think the most I ever spent on an abaya was 1000 dirhams and I am wearing it in this awful photo of myself (looking like I have been on some illegal substance, with my best friends son Obaid)

Me in my favorite Emirati Dress, which was blue and silver silk with the most beautiful embroidery and crystals. I am in my friends Majlis on a trip to Karachi Pakistan in 2001

RASASI...My favorite perfume shop...wallah I loved this place and I always bought Denhyl Oud and my favorite perfume called Hayati
THE DESERT...I loved the desert, thanks to Omran and his friends/family haha, they were such bedu's at heart, they loved to go into the desert and write poetry, play oud, and just drive at night and watch the camels. I was taught how to drive in the desert, how to find mushrooms which hide under the sand and only a trained eye knows where to find the. O also taught me to know which plants in the desert can be eaten and which can not. My favorite thing was to sit under the moon in the desert and just listen to the sounds of the night. That is the one major thing I miss.
I get told all the time by people who have visited UAE that it has no soul. This is sad because when I was there UAE was bursting with soul. I remember the night I arrived, the airport was tiny, and hardly anyone got off my plane. It took virtually minutes to get through customs and outside the airport. It was empty virtually when I got outside the airport to look for O. Now the airport is huge, bustling and full of just about everyone.
In the old days, people had time for each other, greed and money hungry people just did not seem to exist. Life was simple, beautiful and I am so glad I experienced it.


UmmKhaled said...

Awww I just noticed that this last post was 2009...come back :) I love Bukhoor too and Ohhh those mushrooms are called Fagha...I love them and tried them a few months ago during the season while I was there. Ohhh come back and blog!

UmmKhaled said...

Ohh and you look beautiful in your jalabiya! MashaAllah!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your story is so interesting. I would have loved to experience the UAE before all this Westernization. :)

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