I really had no desire to go to Dubai, but my friend Bernadette wanted to spend her birthday there, so I succumbed.  We stayed at the FIVE Palm Jumeirah.  The bourgie quotient of the hotel was on par with my vision of Dubai.  The rest of Dubai wasn’t exactly what I expected.  It was more ‘westernized’ than the West.  The Dubai mall had over 200 restaurants and over 1200 stores.  It was akin to 5 or 6 of the biggest malls in the US, all in one.  Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is embedded in the mall…or the mall is built around it.  There were beaches, day parties, pool side bars and …condos for sale.  You know you’re in a tourist hotspot when there are condos for sale at pre-construction pricing.

Not what I expected.

I expected to see everyone driving a Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, and so on.  Not. I think I counted maybe 5 high end cars during my entire stay.  Perhaps it was just too damn hot to be profiling.  It was July.

My second expectation was to get a feel of real Emirati life.  Again…Not.  I was hard pressed to find a place that served traditional Emirati food.

My third expectation was that I had to cover up from head-to-toe.  I packed pashminas, midi dresses, maxi dresses, long skirts, and every shirt had sleeves.  In the end, I could have worn everything that I wear in the DR.  In the mall, many local men, some (*) women, and children wore shorts and t-shirts.  I only wore my pashmina because the air condition in every building was set to ‘freezing’.  At the pool, everyone wore bathing suits.  At the Penthouse club…next to nothing.

Now, I must say that the gold souk, spice souk, and desert did meet my expectations.  I was also pleasantly surprised that prices were comparable or less than US prices.