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Notes on Dubai

Only in Dubai will you hear your American friend yell to his German buddy "Yella Habibi!" Arabic for "Let's go, my love"

Nearly half of the buildings here are in various stages of construction, with cranes and scaffolding everywhere. The skyline is littered with cranes. We play the crane game as we walk through the city- who can spot the most. Do the cranes on super yachts in the marina count? Just construction cranes? I can easily count twenty in view as I walk two blocks.

Dubai lacks a grounded sense of culture. Its like a giant international airport in an Arab country. There are clues to tell you where you are, but everyone and everything is from all over the place. Your taxi driver speaks four, maybe five languages. You can buy groceries with three different currencies.

There is this one section of the main drag, along Sheikh Zayed Road, where the skyline is really weird and ominous. In Manhattan, the skyscrapers form this mass of skyline, surrounding each other to form a dense downtown. Dubai doesn't have that density. So many of the skyscrapers are pretty solitary. It looks really bizarre, a skyscraper surrounded by three and four story buildings. This one section of Sheikh Zayed Road is lined on each side by skyscrapers. But behind them are tiny single and two story buildings. When you drive down the road, its like driving through a gauntlet. I found a photo on the internet that shows how dramatic it is.

You find yourself using words and phrases in daily interaction that come from places you have never been, in addition to the place you currently are. I adopted the following words:
'posh' from the United Kingdom
'braai' from South Africa
'post' from Germany
and my most beloved phrase;
'yella habibi' Arabic.