In Dubai and other parts of the Emirates, the cities are divided into sections and all the buildings pertaining to that section are there. There is Media City, the section where all the media companies are. There is Knowledge Village, Fashion District and so on. And there is University City.
We drove there (I hardly saw a single sidewalk my whole time in Dubai) in the morning, as the temperature was steadily rising to around 27 degrees. I guess I was expecting a small cluster of schools. Nothing further from the truth. University city had campus upon campus of enormous, palatial buildings that looked more like something out of the Arabian nights than the square, functional university structures I am used to seeing when I visit a country.
We went to a school and were received by the director, a rather fierce Arab woman who snapped her fingers and people would go running about, bringing us tea, calling in the teachers and students to talk to us. The group of teachers we met were quite remarkable. There were two guys from the United States, a woman from Pakistan, someone from Qatar, another man from India, a British woman and someone from Lebanon.
In a way, this represented a microcosm of Dubai itself. Dubai has become a business hub, a meeting point, a global city. I went to a talk about the region at TESOL Arabia where I learned that only 16% of the population of Dubai was in fact from the Emirates itself. That’s a whopping 84% of immigrants.
On the way back from our visit with the school after a chat about teaching, technology and typical challenges I saw a large billboard on the side of the road. It proclaimed, in English and Arabic, “Practice your language skills. There are 195 nationalities in this city.”
Felt like a very good place to be talking about a book called Global.
It’s rare on these trips that I get to do any sightseeing, so I immediately said an enthusiastic yes to go and see something on my first night in Dubai. Well, this being Dubai I ended up going to a mall. How boring and consumerist is that? But this wasn’t any mall, they told me. Basically, it’s like capitalism on super enhanced drugs. I started making a film of it, and it got weirder and weirder…
Bear with the strange sounds at the beginning (almost like droid like noises in the background) as it clears up when I get inside. If you’ve never heard of the crazy and wonderful things in the Dubai mall, it’s worth it…
Photo Credit: Britrob. Creative Commons Licence.