We attended South Africa Day here in Dubai on Friday last week, the 1st of May, which was to celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa, which was on the 27th April. Last year the location of this was the Mina Seyahi Yacht Club which must have been lovely. In fact it was a very popular event last year, we even read about it in the local paper in Johannesburg at the time. The food and drink were also fully sponsored last year I believe which may account for the crowds, a great deal of whom, I have subsequently learned, were not even South African. But I digress.
This year the location was the polo fields at the Desert Palm Resort. The good thing about this venue is the size of the place, plenty of grass for the adults to spread out and the kids to run around on, there were numerous games of touch rugby going on throughout the afternoon. The not so great thing about the venue is the proximity to both a sewerage works and a landfill, so whilst the breeze was very welcome on a 45 degree day, the accompanying odour was not. Actually the breeze was welcome for two reasons, the second being that every time it stopped blowing the flies began to settle. Now flies are always a problem here, but the fact that we were sitting on a polo field didn’t help. You know, horses and so on. Manure. Fly heaven!
Apart from that though we had a lovely day. I guess some of our African-ness has rubbed off a bit since we got here, instead of flouting the inevitable rules of entry like any self-respecting South African, we followed them to the letter. Which meant that, stupidly, we didn’t bring a cooler box of beer & ice along, and ended up being severely ripped off at the beer tent let me tell you. Daylight robbery. And another small fact I should share, shade-cloth, whilst useful for keeping hail off your vehicle, does not give enough shade to keep you cool in the Dubai sun. But I guess it does show how much we HAVE acclimatised that we even managed to spend the entire afternoon outside and didn’t pass-out from the heat. Happily Nils & Robbie (our local butchers) supplied the boerewors rolls, which were rather good; and two brothers from Ghana ran the drumming circle which kept the kids entertained for a large part of the day. I even bought my very first Springbok rugby jersey there, how exciting indeed! Sadly though the advertised live music didn’t materialise which meant we ended up being subjected to Karaoke for some reason, and whilst I am sure some people can sing, there were more than a few who sounded like a cat being electrocuted or skinned alive. Not that I know what that actually sounds like, but certainly like something in pain. Not pleasant in the slightest. I am not sure why we couldn’t just listen to someone’s i-pod instead.
The remainder of our weekend was pretty low-key and relaxing, well that is when work wasn’t calling me about something. For dinner on Thursday evening we tried a restaurant called Salmontini at the Mall of the Emirates. The main theme here is, as you probably already guessed, salmon. Salmon starters, salmon sushi, salmon main courses. Luckily though no salmon ice-cream :-). I had a lovely tomato & mozzarella salad to start (yes it is my favourite) whilst Stu had endive & blue cheese salad. We tried another very nice Australian wine by Voyager Estate, a Shiraz I think, incidentally one of Oz’s top 10 picks for the year. My main course was a lovely piece of ricotta stuffed salmon on a bed of wild rice; Stu had the prawns. OK … so only one dish out of four was actually salmon based in the end but all were very delicious.
On Saturday Stu decided he wanted to check out this new gourmet-deli-food-shop called Gourmet Station that has opened in the newly rebuilt Oasis centre (the last one burnt down). Wow, I could have spent a small fortune in that shop, it is exactly the kind of place I want to own one day, although I would like to be located in a city where I could stock predominantly locally grown and produced delicacies, which sadly isn’t a reality here where so much is imported. And talking of imported the UAE has now banned the import of all pork products in light of the H1N1 pandemic (I refuse to call it Swine Flu I am sorry), so Stu dashed off to the local supermarket early Saturday morning to stock up on bacon and ham. Apparently the lady behind the pork counter was rather bemused when he purchased some Jamón un-sliced in one great big chunk. He also queued for ages as it seems everyone (well all European ex-pats maybe) was doing the same thing. Let us hope it doesn’t spell the end of pork products entirely in the region, as I am not sure how likely it is they will un-ban it again. There is a brilliant blog about all this panic here, I could not have said it better myself.
Have a germ free week!