Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern culture’

It’s That Time Again ~ International Day!

February 29th, 2012 7 comments

Oh Boy. Tomorrow’s the day. A day that fills me with both excitement and dread. Fellow Dubai mothers know what I’m talking about. It’s International Day at school, a cultural celebration, relished by children and slaved over by mothers.

In this case, the event takes place at my youngest child’s school. It’s a day when everyone struts their patriotic stuff, whether they’re from Tunisia, Serbia, Japan, Brazil, Iran or Denmark. About thirty stalls will represent thirty different countries with food, costumes, music, cultural artifacts and educational displays.

Who am I kidding? It’s all about the food.

This year for the USA table, I’m bringing 25 trays of brownies, three apple pies, baskets of red apples, bags of popcorn, as well as lemonade. (Sort of a “county fair” theme—which no one really gets.)

In past years we’ve also served homemade chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy treats, Southwest chili, and hot dogs. No matter what we do, our handful of American moms can never compete with the other countries that offer full buffets of hot homemade dishes or fancy spreads catered by restaurants.

This year I’m manning the table alone (!) so I’m pacing myself. Because two weeks from now I will do it all over again at the high school—a wild free-for-all of teenage eating. At the high school, the food is scooped up so quickly, we can’t put it out fast enough.

But tomorrow’s event is sweet. I cherish the sight of the little kindergarteners dressed in traditional clothing, and I enjoy admiring the other stalls. I will also be handing out handmade Statue of Liberty bookmarks.

However, over the years (especially the Bush years) we at the USA table have endured occasional anti-American comments. Some people don’t comprehend that us volunteer moms don’t set the US foreign policy. So, rather than get into a political debate, I just smile like a lunatic and ask, “Would you like a piece of apple pie?”

So why do I do International Day?

Well. I used to approach it like I was some kind of Food Ambassador, spreading the good will of the US through sugary baked goods. Then last year, at my tenth such event, I got so overwhelmed and burned out that I boycotted the high school international day all together.

I wondered: why do it?

To be honest, I missed it. And my children missed having me there. Parents and students told me that they looked for my apple pie, but couldn’t find it. According to my youngest son, my brownies are “famous” (Betty Crocker, directions on the box).

So, I’ll be there tomorrow, offering the usual sweets. When there’s a lull in traffic, I’ll run over to the Lebanese table for fatayer and to the Korean table for Kim bob and to the Australian table for Lamington coconut cake. I hope the Mexicans will be serving tamales…

Finally, here are some photos from International Day last year—photos that represent a few Arabic counties.

The Lebanon stall:

Some mothers representing Egypt:

The Jordan Table:


An Emirati Coffee Lady serving up Arabic Coffee and Emirati pastries:

Of course, there’s always henna.

Question: What do you do at your International Day?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Turkey Pavilion!

January 6th, 2012 4 comments

In past years at the Global Village, the Turkey pavilion has been nothing special. However, this year all I can say is Wow.

The Global Village is a shopping and cultural event located outside Dubai running during the winter months. To find out more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes Together.

So, this year I spent a lot of time (and money) in the Turkey pavilion. Perhaps because I was in Istanbul a few months ago, many of the traditional items called out to me. It was like I was in the Grand Bazaar all over again. (Well, sort of…)

The first thing one encounters at the Turkey pavilion is this Turkish man at the entrance selling a cherry drink. I had it and it was good.

Here’s a sample of what you can find in the Turkey pavilion. For starters: Turkish teapots and samovars:

Turkish tea sets and textiles: 

Classic Turkish lanterns:

Colorful Turkish pottery:

For me, the main event of the Turkey pavilion was the jewelry. I spent a lot of time in this booth in the back of the pavilion. The jeweler’s name is Enes and he runs a jewelry business in Istanbul. He makes many of the pieces he sells, and he has a work station set up in his booth.

I bought two pendant necklaces here—including one Hand of Fatima (hamsa) necklace. They were actually cheaper than what I saw in Istanbul.

This type of Turkish jewelry is colorful and contemporary.

Here is another nice-looking jewelry shop called “Stonebul”. By the time I reached him, I was out of money.

Of course, there’s lots of food in this pavilion. This potato chip vendor asked me to take his photo. He was very proud of his swirly chips.

Near the front entrance is a Turkish pastry shop. Again, wow. I think this was the best baklava I have ever had. It was so moist it was practically dripping. And there was no weird ghee-taste, which is often found in Arabic baklava.

Naturally, you can find Turkish delight here. Grab a box on your way out.

To find out about other pavilions, see my posts: The Yemen Pavilion and The Iraq Pavilion.

What’s your favorite thing to buy at the Global Village?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Iraq Pavilion!

January 4th, 2012 6 comments

The Iraq Pavilion at the Global Village is small and unassuming. I imagine many people walk by without a thought. However, there are some treasures inside and it’s worth a look even if you aren’t buying.

In case you don’t know, the Global Village is a Worlds’ Fair-like event located outside Dubai and runs November through February. To find out more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes Together.

The main attraction in the Iraq pavilion is the art. This is the real deal: original oil paintings and other art forms straight from Baghdad. Some of the art is sold directly from the artist. Here are a few of the shops.


The original paintings sell for about 400 dirhams to 5,000 dirhams and more.  I like this painting below (unfortunately out of my budget).

 You can have your portrait drawn if you like.

This vendor below is the artist who creates nearly everything sold in his shop. He works throughout the year and brings his pieces to the GV to sell in the winter.

But wait! There’s more. You can buy carpets in the Iraq Pavilion. (I think these are Afghani though.)

And music! This guy is selling the latest Iraqi and Arabic pop music. How can you resist? I love this photo. It reminds me that you think you know what you are going to see, but actually you don’t …

On your way out the door, you can pick up some Iraqi baked goods. Yum.

You can also read my posts  The Yemen Pavilion and The Turkey Pavilion.

Have you been to the Iraq pavilion? What is your favorite pavilion?