We woke up this morning to the news that our client was back in the country today and wanted to meet us for lunch at Mall of the Emirates – I’ve never been to a mall this many times in one week in my life. He had told us he’d be in the US until the 12th, so this was completely unexpected. As a result, our team spent the morning collecting our thoughts and planning which ideas we wanted to emphasize in the meeting.
After everyone got themselves together and dressed up, we walked across the marina to the metro station which is nearly a mile away. While the temperature dropped considerably, down to the low 90s yesterday and today, it is still pretty hot walking around. Unfortunately for us, they haven’t finished building the light rail system (what aren’t they building here?) that would go from our condo right to the metro station.
Anyway, we arrived at the mall early, so we had a minute to explore the Hollister store in honor of Natalie and our other Abercrombie alumni. Although I’ve never been in one of these stores in the US, I can say, it has to be virtually the same, outside the fact that the cologne wasn’t emanating as much as usual.
We then moved on to the lunch at a Lebanese restaurant in the mall, but our client, the CEO of the company got pulled away for a last minute meeting with the Sheik of Dubai. As a result, we ended up eating without him. Most of our ordering was typical for a Lebanese place, until we got to Travis. He decided to order brain salad. That is lamb brain salad, minus the salad. Just brain in lemon juice. When I asked what the craziest thing he had ever ate was, he said “This”. Joey was horrified by this as it was delivered to the table. His official response as the waiter even considered putting it in front of him was “Not here, uh uh, keep walking. Get that stuff out of here.” His face was also priceless.
For some odd reason, I decided to have a micro taste of the brain (see pic below) – again, I’m not sure why. I have to say, it was weird, and the thought of it was worse. I need to slow down on the weird food. I’m starting to think I am developing a habit of bizarre orders and trying strange things. And the trip is just getting started…
When the client arrived, we had a great meeting, but our plans will now need to be changed quite a bit. More work for tomorrow and hopefully, more stories will accompany it. We also found out that Dubai’s insane growth is because the Sheik runs the town like a CEO. All of the main companies are like direct reports. Two examples would be Emaar, the developer (having developed Dubai Marina, Dubai Mall and Burj Dubai) and Jumeirah, the resort developer (having developed the Palm Island and the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7 star hotel). Everyone is on the same page and decisions are made quickly, which is one of the reasons the city has been able to grow at such an insane pace.
On the way back from the mall, Matt, Gina, Kate and I took the metro back. As we got to the metro platform, I pointed out that the car next to where we were standing was for women and children only from 5-7pm. There were many bright yellow signs stating this, and it was very clear for that car. Matt and I thought, good, it’s only 4:50pm, and we aren’t in that car anyway, so we should be fine. As the train pulled into the station and the doors opened, a flood of women came out of the car we were standing in front of. It seemed strange enough that I even said something to the others. But, this didn’t stop us from getting in. As the doors closed and I looked around, I noticed the car was busy, but there were only three men in it, Matt and I and an elderly man. I then noticed on the wall, a very small sign that said the car was for women only – but why was this other guy in there? Could we stay? What do we do?
At this point, I start making head motions to Matt he needed to look around and I felt like we needed to move out. He wasn’t understanding. A slight panic began to set in, were we violating the culture? How would we get out of this situation? So I continued with the head motions. Finally, as we approached the next station, an elderly women in native attire walks to the door, turns to me and says “women only”. Exhale. At this point, we knew for sure…. we had broken the culture and train etiquette and quickly moved cars. Epic fail.
When we got off the train, I checked the doors again; how could we have missed it? Well, the sign was tiny and in blue, just like the other signs. Why was the car that had varying times for being only for women marked in all yellow and large font, and the car that was exclusively for women was almost unnoticeable? Oh well. Lesson learned.