Check it Out!
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
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.
Check it Out!
Back to TOC