Sunday, October 14, 2007

Land of the pornographic shoulder

It’s winter in Dubai. From one day to the next, the seasons changed. Just like that.

A few weeks ago it still felt like the air was burning my cheeks – the same way steam from the kettle sometimes does when I get too close. Now it’s actually bearable to be outside. Instead of vomit hot, there is now more of a hanging heat. If I had a balcony I would sit outside and light candles at night.

Some say this is when people fall in love with Dubai and it’s true that there is a bit of romance in the balmy air. Yet, for me it is still hard to get used to my new home. It’s a lot more difficult than I imagined settling into a new city which is really a huge building site except for one street with skyscrapers. The locals are so rude I have to fight back the tears and the expats are here to make money - not to be happy - and that doesn’t bring the best out of anyone.

What do I miss the most? Well, the people I love, fresh air and the colours of the sea, the sky, mountains, anything. Here the scenery is really dull. There is sand everywhere, inside, on and over everything. It is suspended in the air like a mist that blurs my vision and blots out the sky. Although I must say that since the seasons changed, the sky is bluer than before. Or is this wishful thinking?

It is also the end of Ramadan, the Holy Month of fasting. This weekend is Eid and the Muslims are celebrating. Even more of a celebration for me is that I can now once again wear my summer dresses. During Ramadan, women are not allowed to wear short, tight-fitting or sleeveless clothing in Dubai as the Muslims are not only abstaining from food and drink during the daytime, but also from temptation.

The tourist crossing the street with her sleeveless top might not know it, but the local Emiratis who are staring at her are having the same experience as Western men in a strip club. Oh yes, the shoulder is pornographic in the Middle East. Even now that Ramadan ended, it still provides a cheap thrill for the locals as well as the numerous Indian builders who are longing for their women back in India.

Do I feel cheap and objectified when wearing a T-shirt without sleeves in Dubai? No, in fact I feel free. I am not a Muslim and I will not cover myself from head to toe just because I am a woman.

If the men want to stare, I will choose to feel like a goddess. If you think my shoulder is sexy, wait until you see my knee.


Anonymous said...

It's really not that bad in Dubai in the tourist areas. I wear whatever I want and has never had any problems.

Inz said...

your knee? so very daring! ;) just to let you know that I follow your stories.

Mich said...

Light your candles anyway-

Suz said...

If you wanna explore a city like Dubai you cant avoid leaving the touristy areas......