An observation

I am usually so busy dodging potentially life threatening situations driving along the Al Khail road in Dubai that I don’t generally pay attention to what’s going on anywhere except on the road. Yesterday was a rare treat in that my husband was driving, so I got to take a look around me. As we drove through the sandy wasteland that lines the road on either side, I started to actually look and see that it was full of life, easily missed and strangely cinematic to observe. It was Friday, the single day off that many of Dubai’s population are given, the weather was cool and the traffic was as calm as it gets. Construction workers, out of their usual uniforms of blue and dressed in every colour of shirt, trouser, dhoti and sarong, were holding hands with their friends and strolling and laughing along the main stretch, their freshly laundered boiler suits strung like bunting across the makeshift back yards. Underneath the giant electricity pylons whose wires stretch for as far as the eye can see in each direction, groups of young men with energy left to spare after a gruelling week on the building sites of Dubai played countless games of cricket and soccer, each huge hunk of metal hosting a new set of players enjoying the grid-like shade. Interspersed between were the entrepreneurs: a make-shift barber shop erected against a wall where three diligent men worked keenly on their client’s hair whilst another group stood chatting, waiting to take their places on the stools. A snack stand where older men crouched low on their haunches and chewed the fat. No doubt there was more that I didn’t see as we cruised along at 120km/hr, but what I did manage to take in as we passed was genuinely wonderful. A window onto a world we rarely see in Dubai, and know so little about, it was a silent movie worth watching.

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