Sunday, September 2, 2007

Enough Shopping, Let Life Begin

Arabs are brilliant businessmen. It's because of them that I'm shopped off my feet. Talk about product placement in movies, how about coffee-shop placement in the UAE malls?

When I go for coffee with a friend, we meet at the "Starbucks" at the Marina Mall, the "Mugg & Bean" at the Abu Dhabi Mall, or the "Kosta Coffee" shop beside the Carrefour supermarket.

Simple, pleasant and inexpensive - if only I could resist the stores above, below, and beside the coffee shops. Our closets are practically swelling with new purchases.

"When we move from Abu Dhabi, we're going to have so much stuff," M said yesterday with a groan. He sounded like someone who'd eaten too much camembert and caviar for weeks.

Enough shopping, it's time for real life again.

Just in time, more serious endeavors are about to resume: Arabic lessons and Middle Eastern dance lessons start this month. I intend to take both, much to my children's embarrassment over the latter. My English-language-conversation group commences next week, and my compound book club meets the day after tomorrow. (We read Palace Walk by the late and brilliant Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz.)

By October, I'll probably have been to the first meeting of the Cross-Cultural Group. They hosted, among other events last year, a terrific presentation by businessman/artist Mohammed Kanoo, who spoke about Arab Art. He and two others opened the first art gallery in Abu Dhabi in 2006.

"Buy Arab Art, it will only go up in value," he said. With this country's plans to have an Abu Dhabi Louvre, an Abu Dhabi Guggenheim (designed by Frank Gehry), a world-class center for the performing arts, a maritime museum and a new museum of UAE heritage, Kanoo's presentation was all the more interesting.

While I continue to "dry out" from shopping, I also hope to get to know more natives of the Arab world.

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