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Posts Tagged ‘UAE’

View from the Top ~ The Burj Khalifa

January 18th, 2012 3 comments

The Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) turns two this month. It’s hard to believe it opened two years ago, but it’s true. I remember when it was just a billboard sign—perhaps a twinkle in Sheikh Mohammed’s eye.

Some facts and figures:

At 828 m high, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world with the largest number of stories (200) and the highest occupied floor (level 160), and–in case you care–it houses Giorgio Armani’s first hotel.

It has a super-sleek elevator and reaches the viewing decking before you register all the TV screens inside. Naturally, this elevator is the fastest, moving at 10 meters per second.

The viewing deck is lovely and bright—except for the squeaky floor boards, which I found slightly unnerving.

 Here is a view from above. On the left is the edge of Dubai Mall. In the center is Souk Al-Bahar (one of my favorite places in Dubai), and to the right is the  Palace Hotel. In the water is the Dubai Fountain, which is also a record breaker: the world’s tallest performing fountain.

The view below includes more of the residential buildings on the left. This is a relatively new area of the city, yet it’s called “Old Town” in typical Dubai-fashion—to reinvent and confuse us.

Below is a view of Sheikh Zayed Road and Defense Interchange.

On our way out, we picked up a bar of Gold to Go. And why not?

What are your impressions of the Burj Khalifa?

Guide to the Global Village ~ Egypt Pavilion!

January 13th, 2012 10 comments

Every year I get one amazing item from the Global Village that I treasure above all. This year, I thought it would be that hand of Fatima necklace I bought in the Turkey Pavilion.

Not so.

This time my prized purchase came from the Egypt pavilion. Honestly, in years past this pavilion was a bit disappointing. So much so that I skipped going for some years. But this year was different.

I came. I saw. I bought.

In case you don’t know, the Global Village is located outside Dubai; it’s a fair-like shopping and cultural event that runs during the winter months. To find out more, see Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes together.

Near the entrance to the Egypt Pavilion, these two guys dressed as King Tut made me smile. They were working on “traditional” Egyptian crafts, such as hieroglyphic bookmarks. I think it’s going to be a long four months for these two.

Meanwhile, the Egypt pavilion naturally offers the predictable papyrus leaf prints, busts of Nefertiti, cat statues, etc.

Your children can have their names written up in hieroglyphics–just like in Egypt.

There’s Arabic musical intruments such as the oud (or lute).

Also, you’ll find dresses made of Egyptian cotton.

And Egyptian cotton underwear, too.

Of course, there are Egyptian nuts and sweets. Notice the traditional fabric decorating the walls.

Around the corner I found a similar cotton fabric in different colors—this fabric has the motifs of traditional Egyptian tents, which are seen all over the Middle East on special occasions.

I bought two yards of the blue for less than $10 total, enough fabric to make a festive tablecloth.

So, the tent fabric was nice. But not as thrilling as what I found in this shop. I noticed the hand-appliquéd quilts right away.

Hand- appliquéd quilts made in Egypt? Yes, it’s true. Egypt has an appliqué tradition that goes back to their tent-making. As the demand for tents has gone down, the tentmakers now use their skills to make quilts, wall hangings, pillow covers and other items for the home. The designs are based on Islamic motifs, all done by hand and made by men (!!)

I learned about these quilts when I belonged to the Dubai Quilters Guild, where members were always showing off recent quilt acquisitions from Cairo. I decided that if I ever visited Cairo again, I would track down Kheiymiya Street (The Alley of the Tentmakers, south of Bab Zweila) and get one of these quilts.

Well. I didn’t need to travel after all. This is the quilt I bought in the Global Village—entirely hand-made—my prized purchase for 320 dirhams ($85). As a quilter myself, I know the work involved with applique like this.

If you are interested in buying one of these quilts, I suggest going the last weeks of the Global Village and bargaining heavily. You may get a good deal. Here’s are a detail of my quilt.

 If you’d like to see other Egyptian quilts, more spectacular than this, view the first few minutes of this short video.

For details on specific pavilions, check out my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Turkey Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, and The Palestine Pavilion.

Guide to the Global Village ~ Palestine Pavilion!

January 11th, 2012 8 comments

Oh, how I love the Palestine Pavilion. Since I don’t visit my husband’s country often, I get my Palestine fix wherever I can.

If you are unfamiliar with the Global Village, it’s a shopping and cultural extravaganza located outside Dubai. It runs during the winter months and represents 26 countries and two continents. To find out more, see my post Dubai’s Global Village ~ Where the World Comes together.

Granted, the Palestine Pavilion used to be bigger and better in the past. Sadly, the pottery vendor stopped coming several years back. Likewise, the thob (hand-embroidered caftan) seller from Jerusalem no longer comes.

Alas, nothing stays the same!

What most visitors to the GV don’t realize is that it’s a great expense for vendors to come and sell their wares here. A large sum is required to rent a stall. If vendors come from outside Dubai, they must stay in hotels and pay for daily transportation. Some vendors simply cannot turn over a profit. On top of that, it can be quite complicated for those from Gaza and the West Bank to get their goods to Dubai.

And yet. There are still Palestinian vendors who make it. Many of them sell foodstuff, like these jokesters below.

For me, a visit to the Palestine pavilion has become food-shopping event. This year I bought delicious olive oil from Palestine, homemade strawberry jam, sumac and zataar (spices), pomegranate syrup, pickled eggplant, nuts and seeds. Here’s the nut vendor who insisted to give me complimentary sweets when he found out my Palestinian ties.

And I tasted a lot of samples of cheese in pita bread. A lot.

I also bought maftool, the large couscous pictured below in jars (whole wheat and regular).  In the US, this is sold and labeled as “Israeli couscous.” However, please note that this type of large couscous is actually Palestinian, as Palestinians were making it by hand before the state of Israel was invented.

As usual, the Palestine Pavilion includes items carved out of olive wood “from the Holy Land.”—mostly rosary beads, nativity scenes, ornaments, crosses, etc. These are the typical items sold in Bethlehem and the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem.

 Meanwhile, vendors here still sell Palestinian embroidery, typically red cross-stich on black, but also other colors and variations. Over the years, I have bought many hand-stitched dresses for my daughter at the Global Village—the iconic Palestinian thob. One year I bought a thob for myself—every inch hand-stitched, straight from Jerusalem. I love that thob.

Below is a sample of what is for sale this year.

Not surprisingly, it seems there is a gradual trend toward machine-stitching. While there are hand-stitched pillow covers for sale here, it seems that the floor-length caftans are mostly (if not all) machine-stitched. Again, nothing stays the same!

One thing we do every year is load up on patriotic accessories for my children to wear on International Day at their school. (All the nationalities do it!) This year my kids bought t-shirts, hats and scarves from this stall.

Finally, I caught the Palestinian cultural show inside the pavilion. It was a dramatic stage performance with dance. Even though I understood  only a little of the dialogue, I enjoyed the music, dance and costumes.

If you’d like to know more about the Global Village see my posts: The Yemen Pavilion, The Iraq Pavilion, The Africa Pavilion, and The Turkey Pavilion.

What is your favorite thing to buy at the Global Village?