Dec 6, 2011

Mostly Away From the Glitter in Dubai. Banana Republic Love.

You'll have to just bear with me but it's hard to not write about EVERYTHING that I've seen and heard in Dubai.  Even my conference, the actual reason I'm here.

The Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre is part of the Dubai World Trade Centre complex.  There were 14 600 delegates at our conference and the main halls accommodated us with ease and plenty of room to spare.  Employees need motorised scooters to get from one end of the complex to the other. Natural light poured in from every possible angle and there was marble under foot everywhere I set foot - even in the fire escapes.  Not for a smoke, mind you, I like taking the stairs rather than the lifts sometimes.

There was also good coffee.  The takeaway coffee index for Dubai is as follows - 18 Dirhams (5 AUD, so not out of the ordinary) gets you a large cup and a biro costs 1 Dirham.  There are more places selling coffees than biros.  There is undoubtedly a vast gap between the lives of the rich and the poor in this country but for tourists from the west (even those at a world wide diabetes conference), that gulf is almost invisible.  The city streets are immaculate and lined by sky scrapers, the roads are 6 lanes across and hum with the sound of late model cars and trucks.  When I was here last, I did remember seeing construction workers toiling in 40C heat but they weren't to be found this time.  In their place, they have left gleaming monuments to the will of a place that has pushed and succeeded in being a major world hub - in the middle of the desert.

You have my excellent cup of coffee to thank for that burst of uninformed social commentary. That skinny mocha also made reading the 453 page program a breeze.

The conference did not disappoint.  The speakers have been fantastic.  The UAE has a very culturally diverse population and many of these ethnic groups have a high risk of developing diabetes.  Globally, the financial cost of managing the disease is stratospheric for developed nations and overwhelming for poorer countries.  So there was an interesting contrast in the topics discussed - most bang for treatment buck for poorly resourced countries and what's cutting edge for first world economies.

Australia truly still is a lucky country.  There are nations whose citizens simply cannot afford to get the complications of diabetes because the health system has no way of offering them what would be considered routine best practice in Australia.  A very sobering thought.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai visited the conference as well and received his own guided tour.  The timing of the conference coincided with announcements that Dubai would soon be opening its own paediatric endocrine facility to address the need to give children with diabetes the best possible start in the management of a disease that will be with them for life.

The Sheikh himself was in the exhibition hall today, surrounded by aides and security who conspicuously  appeared to have no weapons or ear pieces on their person.

I was reading that this is one of the first, if not the first, international medical conference that Dubai was hosted.  Not that you could have noticed from the high level of efficiency around me.  Aside from the strong academic programme, the catering was pretty impressive and took into account the diversity of cultures present for the congress.  There were stalls selling pretty much every kind of lunch a delegate would expect back home and often with a local twist.

The sandwich bar offered tomato ketchup flavoured potato chips.

With the addition of various pickles and chills to the standard salad and mayonnaise.

I've eaten flat bread for lunch every day since I've arrived.  Bread rolls seem so mundane in comparison.

The days are structured so that there is a 2 - 3 hour break for lunch and use of the conference gym if you so wish.  Not code for shopping but I drew a long bow and decided to take the option instead.

I often hear the whoosh of trains running on their mid air tracks between space pod like stations from my hotel room and I finally got the chance to ride in one myself.  A one way fare is around 6 dirhams and yes, every single train station is this clean, orderly, well lit and pleasant to be in.  Trains depart every 8 minutes and were never overly crowded.  The stops take into account the locations of most of the big sights and hubs of Dubai so its a fantastic and cheap way to 'be a local' for a moment.

I randomly chose Deira City Centre as my destination.

This proved to be a fortuitous because it was only a few metres away from the Deira shopping centre and Banana Republic.  Where do I  begin with Banana Republic?  I've thought it over many times and I'm actually relieved they aren't in Australia yet because this gives me a perfectly plausible reason to travel and visit whichever cities of the world are home to Banana Republic stores.

What I love so much about this brand is that its reliable.  The skirts and trousers can always be guaranteed to be work appropriate and at a reasonable price.  Trousers are cut to actually flatter and be comfortable.  Skirts fall on the knee or just below.  Tops don't leave half your chest and your armpits on show.  They just make clothes that I want to wear to work and know that I will get lots of wear from.  They also happen to look just a little corporate which is enough for my purposes.

They also do good bermuda shorts. At that perfect length that is, the one that skims over orange peel thighs.  I could wear mine to work without causing offence.  I think I will.   I'm finally getting my summer wardrobe mojo.

T - Big W, necklace - RPE Limoncello, belt and pants - GAP, shoes - Birkis, bag - Hermes.
My Red Phoenix Emporium necklaces are enjoying the sights just as much as I.  Here's the Limoncello necklace checking in with my favourite elevator mirror.  It's a 40 floor ride to the bottom, so there's always enough time for cheeky outfit snap.

It's just about gym time for me.  I'm off to get organised.  Have to remember to bring my DLSR to get a pic of the sun rising over this futuristic city skyline.  It's almost mystical in the early dawn light.


  1. Everything sounds amazing SSG. Not only great off-conference activities but an actually good and useful conference! What a fantastic trip.

  2. good on you for keeping up the gym exercises, awesome that they have a conference gym!
    remember the palace hotel!

  3. Oh SSG, I love your bag! It's beautiful.

  4. I am loving your Dubai posts sick, SSG. I feel like I am on holidays with you. You seriously need to consider coming to NYC with me next year....

  5. That elevator & mirror is turning out to be very useful - can you take it home? Love those trains. We have Banana Republic in London now - come on down! :) xxx

  6. Thanks for writing about the conference, sounds so interesting (I am biased). Hope you're having a great time x


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