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Dubai Christmas Festival

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Even though this was a first-year event, since it was organized by the same people that have been putting on the Taste of Dubai for many years I expected it to be well-planned, easy to navigate with a  good variety of vendors.  Not so much.

TBG had heard that there was little to *no* parking around this venue, so we drove to the Mall of the Emirates and grabbed a cab to the location – walked through renowned luxury 5 star Kempinski Mall of the Emirates Hotel situated next to amazing Ski Dubai 

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Their ladies’ room was staffed by a woman that flushed the toilet and re-pointed the toilet paper for the next person,  pumped the soap dispenser, and unrolled your fresh linen towel for your wet hands.  The sinks were the kind that had water flowing over a flat stone.  I swear I could have lived there…. Really!

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There was some initial confusion over exactly where and how one would queue to gain entrance, but I attributed that to it being the first day of a multi-day event. 

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We’d bought tickets online, but they weren’t accepted at the gate, we needed to exchange them for actual tickets.  Two lines later, we were finally on the way!

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Inside was everything from local grocery stores to culinary schools and the Knorr Soup people – fabulous opportunity to taste a ton of goodies and collect information and samples of many products and companies.  Here’s a photo of some of the booty we brought home, and remember, TBG doesn’t take freebies, unless they’re golf-related…..lol….. oh, and missing from this photo are the bananas and pineapple (cause I ate the pineapple!)

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Entertainment was about the same as one would expect from a small-town festival, inflatable bouncy things, a small train-like ride for very young children, a small carnival type booth where children threw something for prizes, and there was a tree lighting ceremonial countdown, a very loud DJ, groups of school-children singing in the most adorable off-key manner, and proud parents video-taping their every note…..  Disappointing was the actual tree-lighting countdown – no real lead-up no excitement building, no gathering of the dispersed crowd, it was more of a “we’ll be lighting the tree in 5-4-3-2-1!”  And it was done.

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Supposedly Crate ‘n Barrel had some interesting seminars that I’d read about – holiday decorating, package embellishment and wrapping….. oddly the people staffing their site either didn’t know about them, or didn’t care to learn or flat out lied to me about them, I’m not sure which….. I was surely looking forward to it, and just didn’t get the opportunity to attend.  Sad, Crate ‘n Barrel, really sad.

Other attractions were cooking demonstrations and seminars, decorating, gift wrapping, and hand made gifts.  There were also some poorly-located arts and crafts vendors, a lot of buy/sell items,  some vintage rhinestones (my weakness),  jewels and linens that were really fine and some things I’d never heard of and was not certain how to ask about them…..lol.

Overall, it was a good time – just not very “Christmassy” flavored, you know?  And coming from a promoter that has been handling Taste of Dubai for 13 years – perhaps they just didn’t have the focus this year, you know??

We DID spot Santa, though, and that’s always a good thing!  Here’s a photo of TBG with him….

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Ha!  Gotcha.  OK, here’s a photo of TBG with the *real* Santa……

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We left the venue, hailed a cab, headed back to the Mall of the Emirates and grabbed a truly fine burger at the Shake Shack, looked through the Entertainer books we’d bought, Image

 then home to relax and admire the tree I’d decorated earlier. 

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Create your own individual holiday memories, folks – make ‘em where you can!

Moving Mirrors

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OK, so, it may not be a big deal to some people, but to me?  This is freekin brilliant!  When you park here in Dubai, (it’s a big city, population 2 million, with another million arriving daily to work/shop according to Arabian Business.com), most times the parking spaces are a big tight.   Add to that people that have less than mad parking skills, and you have a challenging situation when it comes to parking.  Solution?

They just fold right back!

They just fold right back!

Mirrors that automatically retract.  Cool as all get out, I swear – as if by magic, the mirrors pull back to lay flat against the car door, leaving you  that extra 6″  – 10″ to get your door open and exit the vehicle without dinging the car door next to you.  Plus, you can walk between cars without doing the “door mirror limbo” to get through.  Brilliant!!

Kinda looks like it's got its ears pinned back, you know?

Kinda looks like it’s got its ears pinned back, you know?

 

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“Honey, there’s white stuff all over the back yard – is it possible it’s snowed for Christmas???”

“Baby!  I think it may have snowed for Christmas!  There’s little white things all over the back yard – and it was incredibly foggy this morning, do you *think* it could have snowed for my first Christmas in Dubai???” – me

“Well, I suppose anything’s possible you know.  But more likely it’s fertilizer spread by the guy that came with the house.”  – him

“Honey, there’s…

Welcome to Dubai, Debbie. It’s Raining.

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There are tons of photos in this post, folks, be patient!  OK, so, Where exactly in the world do we live?  Like where on the planet??

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OK, so if you recognized the big “bell” shape of the Saudi Arabian Peninsula, let’s get a little closer……..

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  Between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.  In a housing compound called Arabian Ranches. 

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The orange marker is where our housing compound is located.  You see all the brown?  That would be desert. 😉

Now, when I learned that TBG’s company had selected Arabian Ranches for our housing area, I had all these wild, exotic thoughts of Omar Sharif, nomads, bedouin tents, belly dancers and camels……

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The whole “Lawrence of Arabia” kind of thing, I suppose.  Well, nothing like that…..Here’s a link to the Arabian Ranches website.  http://arabianranches.com/arabian-ranches-dubai

The day after I arrived, it started raining.  Winter rains.  Apparently they have about 4 days of rain a year here, and I brought one with me…. <smile> Here are some photos looking out over our balcony etc…. kind of amazing.  Our back yard and gate opens onto a lake with a fountain, and I think I saw a small paddle boat there.

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Not at ALL what I was expecting, it’s green and pretty and so incredibly well-landscaped!  I’d envisioned a yard of desert sand needing to be raked weekly or something…  you know, with painted rocks for decoration or such – not so.  This housing area is mainly expats like us, people that came here from somewhere else to work, earn the money, then eventually leave.  There are only 3 ways into and out of this gated community, about 4000 families live here, IIRC, and it’s guarded constantly and walled.  Single and multiple-family homes and villas (doesn’t that sound fancy-schmancy???), playgrounds, parks, pools, tennis, golf, polo, soccer, all sorts of recreation opportunities.  Really nice sidewalks and walking trails, lit but not obtrusively so – a lot of people will walk early in the morning and late at night, especially during the hot months. 

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There’s a small shopping facility here with a grocery, pharmacy, travel agency, salon, bakery, Pizza Hut, Indian restaurant, coffee shop, laundry, gift shops and ATMs, a mosque, an English-speaking school and a medical facility equipped to perform surgery on site.  Pretty impressive, I thought.  This is the small bakery/sandwich shop with specialty pizzas.   ImageImage

Our villa here (company-provided and furnished) is a lovely 2-bedroom, 3-bath on 2 levels, with tile floors throughout and three balconies plus a small covered porch.  I’m not a huge fan of tile floors, but I see their practicality here.  With one of those big giant microfiber swiffer-type things, it will make short work of dusting the floors.

It’s a bit bigger than the house we have in Alabama, I think, especially the height of the ceilings and the doors.  And the front door is HUGELY wide and big…. It’s pretty dang impressive, I think.  Needs a bit of a washdown, but it’s pretty interesting.  Here are some other photos of the inside of our villa.

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That door measures a full FIFTY INCHES wide!!  And yeah, I forgot to take off the door hanger thing – we have no home mail delivery here, so people that want to send out junk mail do it through people that will drive around major housing developments and hang advertisements, flyers, catalogs, cards, whatever, off your doorknob….. I think I may use the fish extender that we used on the Disney cruise and see if stuff starts appearing in it!!