Last night I returned to an Iraqi restaurant, Al-Hawler Kebabs, that I had encountered early on in my stay here. It's located in Al Muteena Street, quite a nice area, with a park that is the focal point for resting workers and in the afternoon, and for strollers in the evening. The kebab place is staffed by Iraqis, Syrians and Egyptians, and is one of the rare features of Dubai, an Arab restaurant serving largely Arabs. And being in Deira, and not in one of the five stars, there are not likely to be any emiratis among the Arab clientele. I had an Iraqi kebab and Arab salad. Nice when you’re really really hungry but half way through you just feel full and somehow not satisfied. Was good to speak some Arabic to Arabs though, and of course they found me rather amusing.Wondering back taking detours from al Nakheel I walked the usual gauntlet of car spares, and wholesale goods shops that doinate the Deira backsteets – it's what passes for a shopping buzz round these parts. Chanced upon the fantastically named Al-Buraq car park, before passing Bin Laden’s double trying to park his vehicle. The Al-Buraq was the winged bird referred to in the Koran that bore Mohammed as he made his hijra from Mecca to Jerusalem.
Tonite I had what is the best meal I have had since arriving in Dubai. From Safiyas on Nakheel. The princely sum of 6.5 dirhams bought me lamb kebab with very tasty pickles and chillis on the side, washed down with banana milk shake. Incredible..and such good guys… Things picked up by later afternoon in fact. Before that the day had been spent drifting….chasing Arabic lessons, seeking confirmations of this and that, and feeling down. Eventually I took the plunge and went for the Arabic lessons option over at al-Karama, which happens to be an area I am interested in finding somewhere to live if Bur Dubai doesn’t work out (Satwa apparently is becoming tantamount to an open labour camp – no wonder prices seem competitive). Met Ahmed the Egyptian teacher, nice guy, and all being well we’ll be under way later this week. I felt very good about having this to focus on before other stuff picks up. It seemed almost too good to be true that straight afterwards I would then meet an Iraqi taxi driver. I told him I'd not had a ride from an arab taxi driver in 2 months. He told there are 100 Egyptians and 100 Sudanese tax drivers in Dubai, and he was one of very few Iraqis..can’t get the visas he explained, and in his case he can’t get his visa swapped. He is an engineer by trade, from Basra, where he would much rather be but is registered as a taxi driver…he left Iraq in ‘98….and goes back every six months to visit his family…….Nice guy, says there are no problems in the southern port city, save those Iran is creating...as for Sheikh Mohammed, he is number 1…..