With Friends in UAE - Dubai, 2000 Wednesday April 19 & Thursday April 20


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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
April 19th 2000
Published: February 22nd 2022
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Magrudy's MallMagrudy's MallMagrudy's Mall

Small shops in an outdoor intimate mall
April 19

This morning, I went to the Western and (relatively) touristy shopping malls on Jumeirah Beach Road. There seemed to be a preponderance of UAE shoppers; all the goods were either Western or pitched at tourists. Nevertheless, Peggy said that Magrudy’s Bookstore in the Magrudy Mall is the best in Dubai (at least in English). MagGrudy Mall is an “outdoor mall”, more like a market of stores in an approximate square. The selection was extensive, with an excellent travel section and quite a few local history and travel/picture books. The latter are expensive, however, and the pictures are very commercial, i.e., stylized and not reminiscent of what I’ve seen. I did buy a book, set in Al Ain , one of the UAE cities. (Peggy remarked that it’s not that good.) I also bought an excellent road map of the Middle East that covers a lot of countries and has a good amount of detail.

Jumeirah Centre, the next mall had a fair selection of Western stores, such as the Body Shop and Godiva chocolate. It also had an “Arts and Crafts” store that had beautiful embroidered cushion covers (Peggy thinks they may be Iranian), enamelled papier mâché boxes, plus rugs
La Brioche CafeLa Brioche CafeLa Brioche Cafe

Known by some as Shamsa's Cafe
and furniture. I bought some souvenirs and gifts.

Upstairs there was a cliché of a jewellery shop with a truly ancient French/Lebanese (?) owner with dyed black hair, who put on me the chokers I happened to be looking at. She claimed these low-priced items were for children, elaborately explaining that some people needed such gifts to take back. The prices of most of her items were breathtaking – mostly well over a few hundred dollars!

I had lunch at a café recommended by Peggy, actually called “La Brioche ”, dubbed by Peggy and John as “Shamsa’s café” in honour of Peggy’s colleague who recommended it. The meals were a bit high-priced and elaborate for lunch. I settled for a hamburger, which was an approximation. The salad vegetables were as always beautifully fresh. The meat patty was tasty, as was the bun, but the whole didn’t make the taste of a hamburger. It did fill me up well.

On to the third mall in the row, this one called “L’Habitat. As it was now around 1:00, they were gradually shutting down. However, in the large atrium, there was a great display entitled “To Mother with Love”, featuring busts
"Mother of the Land" "Mother of the Land" "Mother of the Land"

Her small veil is made of decorated metal.
of famous women. One was a representational woman, “Mother of the Nation”; she was wearing the burqa traditional in this area, in which the niqab or “veil” is metal and resembles a very large moustache. You cannot photograph veiled women, so this statue was the only way I could record this tradition. (Peggy confirmed that only the most traditional women wear this, although some younger women do wear full veils.) In the rest of the display, it was interesting to see which women were picked for the honour of a bust. On the second floor were drawings of more women, presumably less exalted. I did also look around a few antique/import stores.

Before leaving the area (everything depends on taxis – quite cheap), I walked back past McGrudy’s to Spinneys, the grocery store. After my foray into the Lulu Centre, Spinneys looked less exotic than it did on my first day. Regardless, I bought some rambutans for John and Peggy to try and to feed my memories of Asia. I also bought some water, because with walking around so much I don’t get enough.

Then it was out to get a taxi, weighed down by purchases. Taxis are plentiful. They beep a little pop on their horn to solicit business. Quite cheerful and not intrusive.



April 20

In the morning, as I have done before, I strolled out to change money at a nearby exchange. Every time I’ve cashed travellers' cheques, the process has been slightly different. This time I cashed more money than usual to reduce the frequency of visits.

Afterwards, I took a little walk. Today I went south and discovered that there are blocks and blocks of stores filled with inexpensive goods. As time went on, more and more people converged on these stores to shop, wander, chat, look at items, and entertain themselves.

In the afternoon, we drove to the Sharjah Desert Park and the Sharjah Natural History Museum. Although I didn’t make any notes at the time, the visit has stayed with me. Since being outside is too hot, dioramas were the best way to convey the extraordinary landscapes and seascapes of the emirate. Nevertheless, a fascinating garden of desert plants reminded me of how life thrives in seemingly desolate terrain.

In the evening Peggy’s friend, Bonnie, came over for dinner. John ordered the dinner, to be
Wildlife Centre near Sharjah Wildlife Centre near Sharjah Wildlife Centre near Sharjah

Co-located with the Desert Park
delivered at 8:00 from the Indian restaurant next to the money exchange. It was delicious and varied – many dishes of north Indian variety. I had never had the thick bread – about ½ inch thick, bubbled like a pancake, and fried. Also delicious were the lamb sausages - spiced ground lamb pressed onto a stick, grilled and then released.

View Map, including Desert Park, now called Arabia's Wildlife Centre.


Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


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Magrudy's Mall interiorMagrudy's Mall interior
Magrudy's Mall interior

Quiet window shopping
Shamsa's Cafe Shamsa's Cafe
Shamsa's Cafe

Shady, open air
Glittering window in the Jumeirah CentreGlittering window in the Jumeirah Centre
Glittering window in the Jumeirah Centre

Gold, to me like in a museum, since I am not a potential customer
 Upscale Arts & Crafts Upscale Arts & Crafts
Upscale Arts & Crafts

Jumeirah Centre
Exterior of L'Habitat mallExterior of L'Habitat mall
Exterior of L'Habitat mall

Fine decorative windows
Honouring Indira Ghandi Honouring Indira Ghandi
Honouring Indira Ghandi

Not entirely like her photos
Queen Noor of Jordan Queen Noor of Jordan
Queen Noor of Jordan

An icon in Middle East culture
Aung San Suu KyiAung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi

Now Myanmar's embattled leader, then under house arrest
Sketch of Nancy ReganSketch of Nancy Regan
Sketch of Nancy Regan

Conservative leader admired in a conservative nation
Natural History Museum outside SharjahNatural History Museum outside Sharjah
Natural History Museum outside Sharjah

Co-located with the Desert Park


21st March 2022

Approximations and window shopping
I laughed at your approximate burger. It reminded me of your "North American" supper in Nigeria - meat, starch, vegetable, all cooked separately (I think) - that no North American would recognize as familiar. As for the window shopping, it looks like fun, and the best way to interact with pricey jewelry!

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