From a Swimming Pool on the 31st Floor

Burj Khalifa

Third day in Dubai, and I don’t start working until Sunday (first day of the week), which means I have far too much time on my hands. Hence I can sit down, next to the swimming pool on the top-floor of my building, and start writing about my first few days here, just to share the first impact and impressions I got of the city.

I arrived on Tuesday 30th July at 3.30am in an apartment that looks more like a mini-suite, furnished with a ginormous bed, bathroom, and kitchenette, on Sheikh Zayed Rd, in the business beating-heart of Dubai. Tuseday was devoted mainly to settling down (actually more recovering), and the highlight of my day was having a *gander* around, only to find out that ‘going for a walk’ is not really a thing on a motorway flanked by sky-scrapers. However, in my exploration trip I did manage to do my shopping at Lifco, where I bought local tomatoes, some pitta-like bread, Lebanese cheese, plus of course some pasta. #HopelesslyItalian.

Wednesday looked rather free, so I decided to be a serious tourist, grab my two guides (one wasn’t enough) and go to explore the more ‘historic’ area of the city, Deira. I was really impressed by the souqs (markets), in which you can find pretty much anything, from gold jewellery to fish, from spices to Chinese toys. I also feeded my cultural self with a visit to Al-Ahmadiya, the first school in Dubai, and Heritage House, a traditional Emirate dwelling. All very exciting and interesting, until it got around midday, and the heath was just a bit too much; I didn’t dare check, but I’m pretty sure it was over 40 degrees. I found shelter in the Dubai Mall, just the biggest shopping centre in the world, close to Burj Khalifa, just the tallest building in the world – of which I struggled to get a whole photo with my phone. I eventually made it (sort of), and the result is the picture you see above. I thought it captured quite well what I’ve experienced of Dubai so far: indoors and air-conditioned most of the time, full of dizzying towers climbing up in the sky, and with cranes everywhere reminding you of the ever-expanding nature of the place. Being so active during the day meant that by the evening I was pretty tired, so I decided to have an early night and get ready for the following day.

On Thursday (this morning) I had my first meeting with the Farjam Foundation people, Marjan, Magda, and Yasmin, with whom I’ll be working for the next month. It was a preliminary meeting to discuss the Art Camp the Foundation will be holding in July and August. Yasmin is a sculptress with years of experience in art workshops, and was brimming with ideas of things we can do. The camp is ‘only’ 9am to 1pm, so we don’t have to keep the children entertained for too long, but we still want to have a variety of things that can be interesting and fun at the same time. Marjan also mentioned that I could help with the next exhibition as well, which made me even more enthusiastic about the whole thing (if possible).

We have another meeting scheduled for Saturday at 11am. Before then, I’m sure I’ll find things to do: I might visit some art gallery, for instance, or go to the Jumeira beach, or… who knows. Just enjoy being in the most thrilling, sleek, and (quite literally) lofty city I’ve ever been I suppose.

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