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Dubai Stories

I have a lot to say about the happenings in Dubai and it will probably 
take about a week and a half to get them all out. I hope dribbling them 
out will be easier on all of you instead of one long missive that puts 
me to sleep too in writing it.

But here is something that relates to the AWARDS CEREMONY and the booing 
that occured.

Michele and I thought it rather inconvienent to have to take a bus three 
hours early to go the one hour drive to the awards ceremony in another 
city. They wanted to show off the Sheik Zar.... Stadium and stated that 
there would be 30,000 in attendance (yeah, right we thought). So we 
drove ourselves and I figured, in typical virgo fashion, that we could 
get there 10 minutes early and still it wouldn't start for another two 
hours like everything else that had happened up to date over there. BIG 

As we neared the stadium they started shutting down the streets around 
the parking area. Little did we know that they had already filled up the 
stadium? and were not letting any more cars in because they were not 
letting anyone into the stadium any more. The young officier who told me 
that we would have to drive away wouldn't recognise our American flag on 
the car, nor our credentialing badges or USA shirts. He just motioned 
and said "move on." Well he made a mistake at looking at the car behind 
us and stepping that way one step. So I stepped on the gas and Michele 
kept her head down half expecting a barrage of bullets. I actually knew 
that he wouldn't come after us because to move his vehicle would mean to 
lose control of the intersection and the rest of the traffic that wanted 
to get in. 

Well we made it to the stadium and there was plenty of parking but many 
white robed young men milling around all of the 26 gates trying to get 
in? We couldn't figure it out. Each gate had four or more army personel 
manning them and two to four rows of locals standing there to get in. 
You can imagine the contrast of Michele and I, both 5'9" tall in our 
American flag short sleeved shirts amoung the white robed locals. We 
pushed our way to the front of the nearest gate and tried to talk our 
way in. They didn't speak Enlish put we all settled on Spanish, they 
wanted to speak French first. After much pointing of my cell phone, 
dropping Sheik this and that names, American team, "credentials", 
ceremony to start, etc., an officer far in the background motioned to 
the guards to let just us through. It was strange when the locals just 
parted to let us pass instead of mobbing us like Michele thought they 
were going to.

Now to find the particpants sitting area. Not to be. There was another 
gate in the interior that we simply could not talk our way through. So 
we headed up into the stands. An army guard motioned us over and pointed 
to two seats, the ONLY two seats, left in a literal sea of white robes. 
I swear the entire crowd up there grew silent as long haired and long 
legged Michele and I tried to discretely find those two seats. Once 
settled Michele was looking around to find only two other women in the 
whole section and the men near me started up very freindly 
conversations. They wanted to know all about us! Four feet away was this 
eight foot fense with barbed wire around the top, separating us from the 
honoured guests on that other side. Low and behold, there was the 
American contingency just on the other side of it! There was Wendy 
Mattingly, Pete Fields and Grace Ramsey and others to save us if this 
group turned ugly!

Now comes the whole point to my story. These stands were filled with 
nearly 44,000 locals. They were enticed here with the promise of a show 
with fireworks and displays of their heritage. As the lights went out 
they lit cigarrett lighters and threw paper airplanes down onto the 
field. It was really just a big political ralley. They take it as part 
of their custom to support the home team. Their booing was filled with 
laughter and smiles. Anytime a UAE was mentioned they cheered to honour 
their Sheiks. We were right in the middle of them and I can tell you 
they were feeling no disrespect. They were simply having FUN, like at a 
melodrama. It is how their culture is. We had a fun time with them up 
there and they were interested in us. 

The show was quite impressive and displayed their customs and heritage 
and had absolutely nothing to do with endurance riding other than 
handing out of awards to a bunch of non Emmirates. They simply wanted to 
get on with the show. When the ruler of the country finally showed up 
late and at the very end, they put on the whole show again just for him, 
sans the fireworkds and awards. It went on for another hour after we had 
all left but I imagine that most of the locals stayed to see it over 
agian and to see their ruler.

We couldn't tell who won best conditioned with all of the noise and 
mistakes, but that whole fiasco is another story.

Steve Shaw

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