Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Experiencing the Dubai Cup 2008

As many of you will know, I don't know one end of a horse from the other. So, you'd be surprised that I went to the Dubai Cup right? Of course, but Christina asked me to take her and although I tried hard to avoid it, eventually I accepted the inevitable and succumbed.

Although I have absolutely no interest in horses, horse races or anything associated, crowds, traffic jams, and Dubai, there are some fringe benefits of going to the Cup as you'll see soon.

Our friend Alison, who had been there last year, suggested we get there right on opening time. We took her advice and got there 20 minutes before the doors opened at 1400h. Here's what it looked like waiting at the front gate.

Entrance into the race grounds was slowed down by the necessity to go through a metal detector (glad I left my nipple rings at home!) and this later led to queues hundreds of metres long for the late-comers. (Thanks again Ali).

Inside we quickly did a reconnaisance and chose a table and chairs in a covered area as it was hot and the jacket I had worn to meet dress guidelines, soon got jettisoned, as did the tie.

Although alcoholic drinks were not scheduled to become available until 1600h, it wasn't long before dozens of waitpersons appeared with galvanised buckets full of ice and beer ... or perhaps beer and ice. All the Yuppy drinks were available; Corona, Corona, or Corona ... a few 330ml Fosters and some cider from somewhere. (I can't understand why anyone would produce a beer bottle with 330ml in it ... no economy of scale).

Within minutes of arrival I noticed that there were many things other than horses to be interested in. This hat this cutie from the Phillipines was wearing took my fancy immediately and when I asked the owner if I could photograph it, she gladly said "yes".

There's something I like about hats from the Phillipines and the people who wear them are often quite appealing too.

Anyway, as the day rambled on and I'd managed to release 660ml of Corona from imprisonment in the bottle, I thought I had better photograph some of the other scenes lest anyone get the wrong idea and think I'm only interested in hats.

Nearby there were numerous food stalls and a shisha shop. Shisha, for the unknowing, is stuff people shove in a water-filled pipe gadget and smoke. Some sort of burning stuff that is flavoured and smells better than the other lung destroying stuff, tobacco. Just have a look at the photo below and you'll probably get the gist of what I am ineptly trying to communicate.

The photo shows the implements of smoking. Arabs smoke it at numerous coffee shops and restaurants around the country.

On the way back from the shisha shop photo opportunity, another opportunity presented itself.

Two Russian ladies were handing out lolly pops and discount vouchers. When I told them they were the cutest chicks I had seen in the whole of the UAE and requested a photograph, they were only too pleased to say "nyet", which I think was "yes" because they didn't run away.

By the time I managed to extricate myself from my two new pink-lady friends, I realised that more people were rolling up by the busload.

The line outside went for hundreds of metres but the flow of people, and especially many lovely, well-dressed, over-dressed, and ridiculously-dressed ladies was mind blowing.

Some of the hats looked like they had been dragged out of ocean bottoms after resting there for millenia, gaggling arms flowing in the breeze like an octopus.

There were enough feathers in hats at the Cup to comfortably clothe a huge fleet of giant sea birds. Then I saw it. The feathered hat that drew me immediately to it. It happened to be owned by an attractive lady who was serving hooters (or was it shooters? As soon as I saw her hat my mind scrambled and I became word confused)

I imagined that in some future life we may become friends, but then I noticed she had her attention on her money and I realised she was obviously a gold digger ... not my type of hat.

Just my luck.

But luck moves through peaks and troughs and I thought I'd try my luck at the Style Arena. Inside the fence I could see all these lovely hats with some incredibly well shaped and well manicured stunners underneath them.

Thinking that I could rush in among those hats and really have a great time I tried walking through the entrance and was told in no uncertain terms that there was absolutely no place for the unimpressive and under dressed.

How embarassing.

So, I quickly moved out of there and away from any further embarassment, although it seemed like a cornucopia ... one that I would only ever be able to dream about. The story of my life, I thought.

Finally I understood why they checked people for arms, ammunition and explosives on entry. I can just imagine how many other people just a few weeks or months past their prime would be offended enough to blow the Style Arena away.

To hell with the Style Arena.

Anyway, we had a good time. There's no gambling, so we didn't lose any money. Later some friends, Don and Heather from Al Ain arrived and we spent the rest of the day chatting, eating and watching the sights.

We did watch two of the horse races just to say we had done it and Don owns horses, so he knows what he's watching and what to watch.

Later in the evening the UAE National Anthem was played followed by an impressive fireworks display and routine of marching Arabian horses for about 30 minutes.

Not wanted to be trampled in the rush, we left at about 2130h and headed back to Al Ain, getting home at 2330h in time to hit the sack and relax after an interesting and enjoyable day.

Now we can say, "been there, done that." We've been to the Dubai Cup, but never the Melbourne Cup ... or even the Alice Springs Cup for that matter.


PS: If you got this far, you've done well.


Sikander7 said...

Never did it myslef, though I often went to the races in Newmarket in England. But that was serious racing, and the men wore flat caps.


Robin said...

It's all part of the ME experience and it's not that bad having to sit around with a Corona in one's hand looking at lovely ladies.


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