INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Archive for Luxury

نهاية الاسبوع — The Weekend

Woke up at 16:00. I needed water and electrical adaptors — the two main items in the UAE food pyramid. The 400+ stores of the Marina Mall extend along the breakwater just off the island of Abu Dhabi. In it, along with a movie theater, grocery stores, and a bunch of English chains (I’ll get back to that), is an IKEA. Just like any other IKEA.

If you didn’t look up at the labels in Arabic, it would have felt like anywhere else in the world — no Scandinavian Persian rugs, no Swedish sandal racks, no ergonomic falafel-ballers. Though I’ve heard IKEA names come from various names of way up north places or other families of words (occupations, kinds of flowers, sizes of umlaut) depending on item category, I started to doubt it. I wondered if oddly familiar-to-English names like the baby crib “Sniglar” would sell as well with Arabophones. Sounds like “snuggle” in English. Means “slug” in Swedish.

The exit to the mall smelled of Krispy Kreme and incense. You want a donut, but you feel strangely calm with the decision.

For tea and wandering, I stopped by the Emirates Palace where the rule is: if it looks like it, it is. The 800 palm trees inside are real (though sometimes petrified). The vaulted golden domes and ceilings are real gold. The tea is not Lipton.

When in Dome: One of the Emirates Palace's 114 domes

Somehow, inside the luxury is not oppressive — the shimmer of Swarovski Crystal and gold-plate feels distinctly elegant. What appeared to be a “Whites Only” section of the parking lot (the cars, that is) — with its unflinching Beamers, Bentleys, Rollses, and a Maybach — seemed a little like the world’s best cake shop with a cupcake stand out front. Make of that what you will.

And pulling a complete about-face, I ordered Indian take out to my apartment doorstep (complete with tip) for 5 dollars.

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