Two Weeks Abroad: Day Five – Dubai

New Years Eve is always a special time. You gather round with your friends to celebrate new beginnings, and if you do it right, it’ll make the New Year seem full of endless possibilities. This year, I was lucky enough to spend New Years in Dubai.

To start off our New Years Eve, we headed to the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding. We arrived at the center early in the morning and spent a good ten minutes wandering around and trying to find the entrance. Once inside, the lead us to the back which was filled with luscious, red pillows and a rug covered in huge platters of Arabic food. We were instructed to remove our shoes then encouraged to sit on the pillows while we waited for the speaker.
The speaker arrived and immediately jumped into his lecture. Well, lecture may be too strong of a word. He did speak to us about the traditional dress and it’s practicality for the region and other culturally significant things, but he kept the tone light and conversational and even cracked a few jokes in between. It’s impossible for me to cram all the information he gave us into this post, but I can sum up my top takeaway.

Why do men wear white and women wear black?

Our speaker explained that growing up he had asked his father this question, and his father had scoffed and responded, “Is white not good enough for you? You want pink? Or blue?” His response earned him a round of laughs and then he continued, “I began asking others the same question.” He explained how he never got a straight answer. Eventually, he realized that nobody knew. But then he argued that nobody really knows why they wear anything. Why wear a pink polo shirt? Why not a blue shirt? Why even wear polo? You wear it because someone at some time decided that should be the style. It’s the same concept in Dubai.

After his stunning lecture, he took us over to the mosque. In order the enter, the women in our group had to cover our hair. He then told us about the different prayer times the importance of prayer and how it’s important to pray for forgiveness. He then ushered us out of the mosque so that he could pray.

Once we left the mosque, we went to the Souk. The Souk is just a network of small alleys filled with street vendors screaming at you to enter their stores and purchase overpriced scarves. Wandering around it was an entire adventure. Each turn looked the same as the last and the vendors more or less sold the same stuff. Finding our way out back out seemed impossible. However, after sheepishly following our more navigationally inclined group members, my friends and I found our way back to our bus.

The bus dropped us back off at the hotel where we all got ready for our New Years celebration. We got dressed, took a couple of pics, then wandered down to the beach to watch the fireworks at the Burj al Arab.


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