Dubai for work? Yes, please. I just came home from Dubai for after 6 days of part vacation and part work. I was lucky enough to hold two days of lectures there for AFPT (Akademiet for Personlig Trening/ The Academy for Personal Training) and 33 wonderful Personal Training students. They are doing most of their studies there and live on a beautiful campus with tennis court, basketball court, gym, auditoriums, cantina and what not, just a couple of minutes’ walk from Burj al Arab. The lecturers fly in and out to teach them.
While it is extremely hot in Dubai at this time of year, the students’ climate for learning is excellent. They live in their own dorm rooms, but they see so much more of each other than other students do, so it is easy to organize study groups.
I can really sense that they are comfortable with each other and while they are not on a holiday at all, they get to experience a different culture together, make new connections and friends all at the same time. Sounds like a perfect way of spending a summer if you ask me! I just loved teaching this particular group and it was wonderful to see how they supported each other through tough sessions of endurance training.
We stayed at Sheraton Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, which had the perfect location for our wants and needs and I’d stay in that part of Dubai again.
Experiencing the desert from the back of an Arabian horse was a dream come true and highly recommended. I have a lot of riding experience in English dressage, but Eirik had none what so ever, which was a challenge because we were told we might be needing a second guide/instructor. But our guide, a tiny, charming man, who was a former professional jockey and now race horse trainer, told the manager that he was sure he could manage the both of us. I think Eirik was a little nervous og controlling a ton of animal muscles, but the instructor said he’d give him the slowest horse there and that calmed him down. We took a couple of rounds in a paddock before we rode into the desert, so that Eirik could practice a bit. Even though his riding style wasn’t the most elegant, I must say he managed really well. His horse was not at all an “old riding school horse” that just followed the others automatically so he had to guide her properly. I was so proud of him! Not having sat on a horseback for several years now I was curious to see how my skills held up, and luckily it all came back to me at once and I felt really comfortable and in control even if my horse tried a couple of tricks with me and really tried to take control when we cantered in the dessert. It was an amazing experience!
Dubai had everything from sharks and crocodiles to skiing slopes in the malls which made shopping very adventurous, and Dubai Mall is the worlds’s largest! I’m usually not a fan of malls, but Dubai has a whole other level of malls and I could walk around there the whole day.
There are Maseratis and Lamborghinis in the streets and lots of taxis and town cars, seeing as you can’t walk anywhere, but the rides were quite cheap. Who doesn’t love being driven around in a nice car?
The white, sandy beaches are almost too hot to stay in this time of year and the Indian Ocean was as hot as a bath tub, but the pools are all cooled off and nice.
We only received great service and people were extremely friendly and helpful. With restaurants from all the corners of the world, dining was such fun! We had everything from traditional Libanese food to Japanese to less exotic, but sooo good, Cheese Cake Factory.
There are quite a lot of CrossFit boxes and gyms around Dubai, and great facilities out doors. We did all our training indoors in the hotel gym due to the heat. For my training I really don’t need more than a tread mill and some dumbbells to get some really good sessions in!
Fashion Victim – Me?
The mix of eastern and western culture, makes UAE a paradoxic place and it took some getting used to that all the women are covered in black, some completely covered head to toe and even with glove-clad hands. It is so against biology when it is a scorching 47 degrees pluss out there. Still Dubai is probably one of the most liberal of Islamic places, and that says something. People are allowed to hold hands there, if you are a man and a woman, that is. On the other hand, a kissing scene between two men in a movie I was watching was actually cut out of the film.
I got to wonder if wearing clothes that cannot in any way show off your body just might eliminate or at least take away some of the “body pressure”? Pressure to look a certain way (skinny/fit/muscular/tiny waisted/big butted fill, in the blanks here…) has been much (too much) discussed in Norwegian media and social media. No one can check out your behind as you walk in front of them and you can forget about showing off that hard earned bod on a beach. That is just not what they do. Could it be that these women are more comfortable in their own skin than western women and girls? Being in Dubai, I started to reflect if whether their traditional and religious clothing is an advantage or disadvantage, liberating or captivating for women. I guess it all depends. But in 47 degrees pluss it is definitely a disadvantage, when eating at a restaurant it is definitely a disadvantage when your whole face is covered with fabric and freedom of movement is restricted in such garments, in a country where nobody walks anywhere. Hm… There are no real, personal opinions here. For some reason being in a foreign culture just got me thinking and wondering about body image in other cultures than our Northern European one…
It’s weird, because those of you who know me knows that I am not shy of my body, even if I, like everyone else, can have insecurities from time to time, but after a couple of days I felt more and more like covering up when I was off the resort grounds.”When in Rome”, of course. So I’d wear a maxi dress or cover my shoulders if my legs were out and no short-shorts or plunging cleavage (not that there is much). I felt a bit out of place, even if I was never inappropriately dressed, and I believe that I should never have had to feel that way. Just goes to show that most humans are flock animals and we tend to want to fit in with the herd.
As western as Dubai is with all its American and European stores, cars and restaurant chains, it is still conservative. The malls are crazy and the shopping is crazy good, but what is the point of Gucci if all you ever wear is black chiffon, you might ask? Even if the women wear all black, flowing garments and head scarfs, you can see that these women have S.T.Y.L.E. With diamond rings peaking out, Prada glasses and Vertu mobile phones in their hands, and who knows what other designer labels are under there, you instantly understand that fashion and looks are just as big an interest with UAE women as with women any other place in the world.
Our trip to Dubai was such an interesting experience and we both want to go back and explore more, but maybe in a different time of year when it’s not as hot.
The aquarium in Dubai Mall