Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dubai

I finally got the chance to actually visit Dubai after making several touchdowns at the airport on transit. It was a lovely place to visit, although it was hellishly hot! It was impossible to walk for more than 5 minutes outside without desperately seeking shelter from the sun, and to make matters worse there are no trees on the pavements to provide shade. Luckily for me, my hotel was next door to the metro, so I didn't get fried.
Desert Safari
Photo Credit: Shayera
Concrete jungle
Photo Credit: Shayera
In my opinion, Dubai isn't impressive. It’s a city without a soul, and by this I mean it could pass for any other concrete jungle in the world. Without the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, you could mistake the place for Doha or even Singapore sans the desert and extreme heat. There’s nothing distinctive that announces Dubai to you.

In addition, the shopping experience was nothing to write home about either. With large shopping malls housing several European and American stores, I was disappointed they had very little to offer. Funnily enough, I spent more time walking than shopping due to the mall’s vastness.
Shot of Burj Khalifa from my taxi
Photo Credit: Shayera
The City of Light?
Photo Credit: Shayera
Ventilation vent - it was surprisingly cool in the hut
Photo Credit: Shayera
On the upside, I loved the city tour and desert safari that ended in a camp where we feasted on traditional Middle Eastern food, while being entertained by dancers. It wasn't the most comfortable seating arrangement, but I like that I was briefly transported to a different period. I also visited the museum which showcased life before the discovery of oil, and was amazed at the efficacy of the ventilation system they built to keep their homes cool in the oppressive, desert heat.
The camp where I feasted
Photo Credit: Shayera
Needless to say, I am impressed with how Dubai transformed itself from a desolate desert to a tourist attraction in a few short years. It’s the perfect example of the importance of a visionary leader, and proves that without one, a country will remain in lost in the dark. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Are Human Beings... Not Crayons.

Recently, there have been several online articles online describing Oprah’s encounter with racism at an upscale store in Switzerland. For the benefit of those not familiar with what happened, here’s the story: Oprah was at Trois Pommes when a $38,000 Tom Ford crocodile handbag caught her eye. She then asked the shop assistant to view the bag, but to her surprise, the assistant said it was too expensive for her, and being the ‘helpful’ assistant that she was proceeded to show Oprah other bags she could ‘afford’.

Oprah still not satisfied asked the shop assistant to view the Tom Ford bag. Again, the shop assistant insisted the bag was too expensive for her. After her third request and the assistant’s refusal to grant it, Oprah left the store.

Now, I'm not sure I'd have handled the situation as coolly as Oprah did, since the shop assistants attitude was obnoxious and racist.

How can one judge the ability of a person to purchase an item (or their ability to do anything for that matter) based on the amount of melanin in their skin? Skin pigmentation doesn't influence wealth, behavior or intelligence in any way, so it’s surprising that people would make assumptions based on it. For example, in Nigeria, when someone walks into an office they automatically assume the sole non-black person (regardless of their physical appearance) is the boss, and immediately proceed to relay their message. I'm not sure why some people have this mentality, but something tells me that they believe the person should have all the answers by virtue of having a different skin color.

The second example I find slightly sickening as I don't understand why anyone should sheepishly condone gratuitous rudeness by virtue of their race. I’ve noticed, on occasion, some Nigerians being rudely spoken to by foreigners (and by foreigners, I mean non-blacks), and happily swallowing it. I suppose it’s the master-slave mentality that makes them cower in fear or defer to foreigners. However, if a fellow Nigerian or black person were to act or say exactly the same things that were spoken by the foreigner, I promise you there'll be hell to pay. 

Just for the record, I do not brook insolence from anyone regardless of your physiognomy.

Sadly, in Africa and Asia, people have been brainwashed into thinking that validation and acceptance come from looking Caucasian or possessing Caucasian features. Consequently, people are bleaching their skins with harmful chemicals and undergoing surgery to alter the shape of their noses and add folds to their eyelids. But just how far do these alterations actually go to adding value to one’s life? Would they make you any smarter, richer, wiser or more acceptable? My theory is that: If you can't fix what is inside you that’s making you feel inferior, no outward alteration will ever make you feel good about yourself.

We are not the color of our skin, and shouldn’t be judged or treated differently for the amount of melanin our skin produces. Pinning someone’s worth as a human being on the skin color is shallow and dehumanizing. If anything, judgment should be based on the content of one’s character. 

Now, to the shop assistant and to people who think like her, here’s a piece of advice from En Vouge: Free your mind... Be color-blind, don’t be so shallow.