People think of Dubai as the bling emirate, famous for flashy buildings, flashy cars, and flashy malls.  We went to the Dubai Mall on Black Friday, it seeming like the nationally appropriate thing to do, but unlike the malls of the United States, none of these stores had “SALE” signs in the windows: full-price central, that’s where we were.  And also unlike malls in the States, in this one, at 5:30, the call to prayer resounds through the entire place, the imam’s chants an odd counterpart to the expensive window displays.

We weren’t in the market for Pucci or Gucci…although I may have had a small moment inside the Laduree shop, just me and some salted caramel macaroons.  But there were no witnesses and besides, those macaroons ain’t talking.

Mostly we were in the mall until it was time to go to up to the viewing platform of the Burj Khalifa (buying a timed ticket in advance means you avoid the long ticket line)–some of us in the family have a real thing for tall buildings.

So we wandered around—went to a great book shop and to the aquarium, and listened to the boys fume about how much things cost. They’d each been given 50 dirhams (about 15 bucks) to spend during their time in Abu Dhabi and the mall gave them a hard lesson in international economics: toys that at K-Mart cost ten dollars were thirty at the mall; the souvenirs at the top of the Burj were gold-plated replicas of the tower—for 600dhr. Liam was furious. “This is a stupid over-priced mall,” he announced loudly as we searched for the exit.

We needed to find a taxi stand, which we figured wouldn’t be hard to do…and in fact taxis were easy to find. Once we escaped from the mall.

One exit led only to the VIP Taxi stand.  Not for us.  We marched back through the mall (a ten-minute walk) only to find ourselves in the underground parking lot. Back into the mall. Up the escalator, across to the other side of the mall, down the escalator. No exit.  Back into the mall, across in the other direction, down the escalator, up the escalator, into a hotel lobby, intending to exit through the hotel. Nope. Back into the mall, down the escalator to an elevator, outside—and finally, taxis! But not so easy – taxis aren’t allowed to stop at this end of the mall. Walk down the sidewalk, around the corner, back through a different part of the parking garage, across the driveway, join the crowd on the curb waiting for a cab.

It took us a half-hour to escape the mall.  Husband and I sang the chorus to “Hotel California” during the entire twenty-minute cab ride to the Spice Souk:  “Welcome to the Hotel California…you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave…”

Who even knew the Eagles had been to Dubai?