The Spread. I couldn't get the whole table into the shot and this didn't include the six or seven dishes for dessert. Everything except the fish was home cooked. (Excuse my crappy camera phone pics.)
A moment in time: After dinner, drinking, singing and even dancing ensued! At one point there was probably twenty people in total - a mix of us visitors and our host's friends, who quickly become our friends.
We were asked to arrive at 8pm and didn't start dinner until close to 10pm. A group of us didn't leave until 2am - and we were amongst the early ones! These Dubai folks know how to party early into the wee hours. Me, I fell asleep in the cab.
Hope I don't sound like a travel guidebook, but here are some things I found very interesting about Dubai and being in the Middle East in general:
Dubai is the party city of the UAE - it is very westernized and almost everyone speaks English. The women in Dubai are independent and can wear what they want, have careers, and drive cars. This isn't the case in all of the UAE and certainly not in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Only about 20% of the population in Dubai is made up of UAE nationals, or emerati, meaning a whopping 80% is expat. To be an UAE national here is the cream of the crop - these folks consider everyone else (regardless of rank) to be a "servant" to them. This isn't meant in a bad way, but it is part of the culture here.
I think that's partly why status seems to be a big deal around here - what kind of car you drive, what you're wearing, where you live, where you hang out at night.
What to Wear
For the ladies, there are no rules on what not to wear here. However, it is still a Muslim city and if you plan to visit the more traditional areas of town, I would recommend foregoing the tank tops and short shorts unless you want to be leered at. (Actually, I would advise against short shorts for almost any occassion.)
I found it kind of strange walking through a shopping centers (and Dubai has many many many) and seeing women covered up in their traditional black burqas, browsing the racks at Forever 21 or Bebe.
So as usual my ever-crappy packing skills yielded no super-awesome travel outfits. Because most of my traveling is usually done for something work-related and space is the key, I have become a very "safe" packer. Which equals typically vanilla outfits. Here are two from Dubai:
Corporate Lisa (with the Kung Fu grip!)