Dubai/Oman report - aka. Where are all the Women?

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Mar 21st, 2004, 07:32 AM
  #1
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Dubai/Oman report - aka. Where are all the Women?

Highlights:
- The fish market and souk in Muscat. Pashmina shawls for $3! The gold! The frankincense!
- Snorkeling in the Strait of Hormuz and watching the speedboat smugglers from Iran bringing goats to Oman to trade for cigarettes
- Having drinks on the 51st floor of the Emirates Tower in Dubai. What a view.
- The friendliness and welcoming spirit of the people.

Disappointments:
- Burj al Arab was a HUGE let down. Apparently one must now have a reservation (and $60) to simply visit the lobby. We did not have a lobby reservation, so we were not allowed in. The folks in the stretch Humvee were turned away too.
- Oman Air. We had 3 flights with them. Each flight developed into a scheduling nightmare. I would steer anyone away from this carrier. Emirates on the other hand, was superb.

Fascinations: (from Western eyes)
- Hearing the call to prayer piped through the malls and International Airport.
- Prayer rugs and Mecca directional stickers in all our hotel rooms.
- All the skin whitening creams and soaps. What population are they aiming for? Indian?
- Wondering where all the women were! For every 50 men we would see maybe 1 woman. This was especially true in Oman. And the women were in various birqua coverage, some with only the hair covered (and lots of makeup), some completely covered and wearing gloves. And the family rooms at the airports and malls where women wait separately from men. Fascinating.

Thanks to Melnq8 and others for their input, it was truly helpful. This is a wonderful part of the world to explore. We really enjoyed ourselves.
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Mar 21st, 2004, 09:33 AM
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how could the burj be a let down if you didnot get in?. we are going to stay there in two weeks and hope it is all the good stuff i have heard.
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Mar 21st, 2004, 08:33 PM
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Pgmargate, wouldnt it be a let down if you travelled to Paris and couldnt get into the Eiffel tower, or NYC and couldnt go to the top of the Empire state building?

I simply mention this as this formality is new. If you are not staying at the Burj, or have proof of a restaurant reservation there, you must make a lobby reservation.

For those interested, this reservation can be made by calling +971 4 301 7777
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Mar 22nd, 2004, 04:10 AM
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When the Burj originally opened there was no fee to enter the hotel. However, with so many "lookie-sees" walking thru the lobby, when guests were paying atronomical rates, they decided to charge (then) $50 to cross the bridge to the lobby.

This tpe of fee is not unusual, the lovely hotel on Macinaque (sp) island in Michigan, where the Christopher Reeves/Jane Seymour movie "Somehwere in Time" was filmed, also charges folks visiting the island a fee. Again, with guests paying to stay at the hotel and then having tourists walking thru in all types of dress, this hotel decided on a fee (last I heard it was $20/person)

Unlike the Eiffel Tower, which is specifically a tourist attraction, these hotels aren't and I personally feel the fees are appropriate.
 
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Mar 22nd, 2004, 04:48 AM
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paying approx $50. to see this place pails in comparison to the $1750.00 per night with a 5 night minimun we have to pay.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 02:20 AM
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Did not understand your comment on women in Oman.
They have more opportunities in Oman than most other countries.
If you would go to Shopping malls as Sabco Center etc. you would see many women alone or with friends and families.
Certainly many drive cars and have responsible jobs in all areas of commerce from Banks to retail shops.
Schools and universities have many women students.
Women also have posts in government ministries and diplomatic corps.
This is in great cotrast to many other countries in the area.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:27 AM
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Queenie -

Glad to hear you had a good time!

I too tried to get a tour of the Burj al Arab last summer, but at the time they weren't offering tours. I knew there was a charge to get in, but I thought it was closer to $30, which I was willing to pay. Don't know if I'd want to spend $60 just to see the lobby though. Incidentally, the Discovery channel here in Kuwait recently had an hour long program dedicated to the Burj al Arab. It was fascinating. I especially enjoyed all the behind the scene segments.

Having seen the program, I'm now even less inclined to pay to see the place!

Have to agree with you about Oman Air. Flew them a few years back and thanks to their tardiness, our luggage went missing for three days.

I assume the women are in their homes.

Your chances of seeing women increase at night - people in this part of the world tend to be nocturnal, due to the heat.

I'll admit that hearing the call to prayer is interesting AT FIRST. After awhile though, those 3:30 am wake up calls get a bit old for the non-Muslim population.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:50 AM
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Re: Burj:
I guess I didnt write very clearly. My point was not about the fee. I was well aware of the fee and understand the reason. I do not have an issue paying the fee. I was willing to do so.

I am trying to make a point about a -reservation- to visit the lobby.

I wish I had known you needed a reservation before paying a taxi 90 AED on a fruitless trip. Hopefully this may save someone else the disappointment.

Then again upon reflection, maybe Melnq8 you are right. It may not have been worth the $120 for us to see the lobby after all!

Re: Women:
As a visitor traveling to the tourist spots (souks, walking through streets in Mutrah and Deira in the UAE, restaurants) I did not see many women. In Khasab, Oman I could count the number of women I saw on one hand. In the airports they seemed to stay in the Family Rooms (I looked in there).
As we were tourists, I did not go to any schools or universities or government offices, although I am sure there are many women working there and attending classes. I make no value judgment on this. We did see women driving.

I can just say that as a woman, I keep an eye out for --other women-- while I travel, as often when the women disappear, danger can increase. Men behave differently when women are not about; anyway that has been my experience.

Let me say we NEVER felt the least bit insecure. This was just an interesting difference I noted in my experience there that I have not had before. And I have traveled to Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, and Zanzibar with large Muslim populations

Melnq8: Your info on the beads was priceless. I did well!
Also, thanks for giving us the courage to rent a car in Oman. It was definitely the way to go.
.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:08 AM
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someone told me you can also go to the burj without paying a fee if you have a dinner or lunch reservation.might be worth it to have lunch while enjoying great view of the gulf.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:41 PM
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If you're not staying there, the Burj is a better spot during the day - try a lunch reservation. The views of the gulf are far prettier than at night.
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Mar 23rd, 2004, 08:59 PM
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Living in Egypt, my kids are well aware of the the Burj Al Arab and have been fascinated by it. They were always talking about taking a trip the the "sailboat" hotel - and staying there if possible. So, when the Discovery program (mentioned above) came on, I made watching it a family affair.

While the behind the scenes view was certainly interesting, by the end of the show, the entire family agreed that we had now "seen it" and that this was a place we could skip!

My younger son said - "Gee, I think I'd rather go back to the Cape Grace (in Cape Town) than stay there!" I have to agree.

As for the call to prayer - I've gotten to the point now where I almost don't notice it during the day - it's just part of the background noise. It's still a little annoying at 5 am - especially during Ramadan when the calls seem to go on forever.

But it is rather interesting to hear the noon-time call in the middle of a kid's baseball game or during a Cub Scout event!
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