My first encounter with Dubai came at night stepping off a flight on Tuesday from Athens, Greece. I, a bit weary and hyped on adrenaline, stepped out and into the last leg of a three-week odyssey; an odyssey that began over dinner-drinks with friends so many years ago. An odyssey that found its final leg back in March of this year when the query, “So, when are you going to visit me?”, was asked. An odyssey better measured in years and layered upon layered of growth and introspection than in miles or in weeks. I came to knock on a door. I came to close a door. I came to open a new door. I came carrying many things with me, many of which already I have left on the wayside.
Dubai is a city that defies what I suspect is many of my fellow Americans’ perceptions of the Middle East. It is a clean, well-organized, friendly and truly culturally diverse city that defies all of the conventions and stereo-types that an ignorant person such as myself might have wished to heap upon it. It is as American as apple pie, maybe even more so. I appreciate it is only a day in the city, but I have encountered more genuine smiles than I can recollect in a long time. The kind of smiles that begin with the eyes, circumnavigate the face down through the lips and back to the eyes. The kind of smiles that leave marks on the eyes indicating: I am here now with you; happy. I am excited to see what the next three days will bring me; I may already be developing a sense of sadness that I will leave come Sunday morning.