Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dubai: A camel called Shane, a falcon called Miriam and an Egyptian dancer called Captain Honey.

Although an excellent adventure, Dubai was not as I expected. It truly is a city of contrasts: the very wealthy and the dirt-poor, natural desert colours and flashes of bling, traditional custom in uber-modern settings (and vice-versa). I had a fantastic conversation with a falconer about training his falcon, and the importance of the practice in Emirati culture, however the conversation took place in the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world. And the falcon's name was Miriam...

Only 5% of the population of Dubai are actually Emirati, so what one finds in the malls, in the souks and by the marina is a real blend of cultures, and what is experienced as Arab culture is often a mix of Lebanese and Iranian sprinkled with psuedo-bedouin flair. Playing out their lives on this foundation are English, Australian, South African and Canadian expats - mostly teachers, lawyers and business-owners. There is also a huge Central Asian influence, as virtually all labour is imported from Pakistan and India.

This clash, appropriation and (contradictorily) seamless mélange of colours, patterns and peoples was an inspiration in itself. I think I have renewed commitment towards my own practice of ink & whim pastiche...

And what's not to love about a camel called Shane?
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The most glamourous Starbucks in the world.

Very traditional, yes? Until you see the 'Made in China' sticker on the back of the lantern...


Captain Hany (pronounced 'Honey'), an amazing Egyptian tanoura dancer. Check out his YouTube channel.


There's that melangé again...

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