It is the end of the Eid weekend celebrations and I have just arrived back home from Church ….during the sermon, the vicar told us about Islamic religious leaders who had visited our church on Friday morning as part of the celebrations of Eid this weekend. I sat there amazed and pleased as he told us how these religious leaders had spoken to the congregation of an Anglican church and I thought how wonderful it is that we live in a country with open minded and enlightened leaders such as HH Sh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who allow us to worship openly as Christians in a Muslim country.
Our vicar also told us how there is an open dialogue between our Church leaders and the leaders of all religions in the country-Seikhs, Hindus, Buddists, Catholics and Christians were all invited to the Palace during Ramadan to discuss a number of matters with HH Sh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, our Prime Minister and HH Sh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, our Crown Prince. What a wonderful message of peace and tolerance these inspiring leaders are showing the world.
In a world of such turmoil and religious persecution, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to enjoy an environment of tolerance and understanding we experience in Dubai and the UAE in general.
The Holy Month of Ramadan begins tomorrow and for Muslims all over the world, a month of fasting begins.
This year , the Holy Month has fallen over the extreme summer heat of June and July and it will be particularly difficult for Muslims to abstain from drinking. During the heat one hardly feels like eating anyway, but there is no way I can manage an entire day without water!
Out of respect, non Muslims will also not be able to eat or drink in public and while a lot of people find this is major problem, I really don’t. I find Ramadan to be a much calmer, more sedate time of the year which effectively means we all slow down. When the temperatures hit 48 and higher, I am more than happy to slow down I assure you! We generally end our working day two hours earlier than normal which is great-most of the sites we work on finish early and as it is the law in Dubai that work hours are cut, there is not much one can do after 3pm so I tend to go home and rest which is very beneficial because at the hottest time of the day, one can be indoors out of the heat and humidity.
It is also a time of kindness and generosity and this feeling softens the usually rather busy and callous city. Charities benefit hugely from the most incredible acts of generosity by devout Muslims and its always wonderful to read about our leaders donating millions to the needy. It is my theory that part of the reason why Dubai is such an overwhelming success, is because of the incredible generosity of HH Sh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other UAE leaders to the less fortunate.
The only thing which does get worse is the driving, with many drivers rushing to get home in time for Iftar. (breaking the fast) I make a concerted effort to be off the roads by that time but if I am not, I try to be extra vigilant to avoid getting caught up in a fender bender or worse! It can be a bit of a mad dash at times!
To my Muslim readers, I wish you and your families a blessed and peaceful Ramadan.
I was visiting one of Dubai’s numerous Five Star Hotels a few days ago about some possible work, and managed to take some photos of the entrance facade while waiting for my car to be brought around by the valet.
While we have very few historical architectural buildings in Dubai, there are a few resorts where the beautiful sweeping curves and lines of traditional Arabic architecture are featured and Al Qasr is one of them. I love the facade and also the lovely soft shades of pink and sand…they suit the desert environment really well. It is a relatively new Hotel (built about 9 years ago) but has been designed to look old and weathered…I am hoping to get some work there for a couple of months, so I am sure there will be many more photos to follow!
Last night I joined about 12 other people in a gathering to celebrate a dear friend’s 33rd birthdayat her family home on the Palm Jumeirah. The mere location would automatically indicate an evening of luxury and excess but it was in fact one of the most simple and lovely evenings I have enjoyed for a long time and it made me literally take a deep breath and disconnect from the craziness of life here in Dubai.
Yesterday was Earth day and as my friend S was also celebrating her birthday,she had organised a simple yet meaningful ceremony on the private beach on front of her parents’ villa. (For those who don’t know, the Palm is a man made, luxury property development off the coast of Dubai and made up of a trunk and fronds leading off the trunk . Huge villas are built on these fronds and at the end of each frond, there is a curved piece of land with a 180 degree private beach. It was one such villa which we were all fortunate to visit.)
After a wonderful prayer and mediation , we were all invited to take a flower from a bucket and throw it onto the water with a prayer for Mother Earth. The wind was cool and as we stood on the quiet , dark beach in a circle offering up simple prayers and meditations, I felt so completely at peace it was incredible.
The lights of the Dubai coastline were glittering and sparkling in the distance like a gaudy necklace, but on that beach with our feet buried in the cool, damp sand I felt like I was on another planet, not just another suburb. It made me truly wish that I also could escape to my own private piece of sand! Unfortunately that will have to wait for another lifetime when I have made my millions, but for one night, it was wonderful!
The other people at the party included a raw food advocate (a 52 year old woman who looks about 32-raw food is the way to go people!), a Reiki master, two Yoga teachers , an art gallery owner ,two people making a documentary, a lovely girl who is making a sci-film and an eco consultant. It was a varied and interesting group to say the least and I had a great time with such creative and spiritual people. I really wish that there were more occasions like this…I find the majority of people here are all about the superficial-what car you drive, where you live, how much you are paid , which clubs and restaurants you frequent…..its tiring and boring for me and I feel that I need to actively seek out more “real ” people who have a much more positive impact on my life and on my soul. While Dubai has given me an incredible experience over the past 14 + years, there are times when I find the energy in the city feels like it is sucking the very life out of me.
Is it just Dubai, or are other big, developing cities the same? I wonder if along with the extraordinary growth we experience here, there is a darker force which can affect one in a very subtle but negative way….it is certainly a thought provoking theory and one which will be on my mind for a while! Driving off the frond and down the trunk back to the mainland, I was so grateful for the brief respite from business and a little peek into the piece of paradise where S’s family lives.
Or should I say, Dubai did it…I am so happy and incredibly excited that Dubai has won the bid to host the Expo 2020!!
The excitement in the city is palpable and as the announcement was made in Paris about 30 minutes ago, I could hear all the fireworks displays in the city..unfortunately I couldn’t see a thing, but apparently the city has gone crazy!! I feel so proud to be part of this amazing city which has such a positive vibe most of the time, but it will go into overdrive after this announcement!
I am sure once everyone has calmed down, the reality will be that we will all have to deal with an even more frenetic pace in the city (and much more traffic)but what a great achievement for our leader, HH Sheihk Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his incredible team who put so much effort into our presentation for the bid. Without the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed, none of this would be possible and Dubai certainly would not be the place it is….I feel so lucky to be living in such an amazing place.
If you would like to see the film which was part of the Dubai bid, please click on the link. Its a great video and well worth a look.