I've continued to wonder what's more or less culturally Arabic in the Gulf region. For instance, last weekend, I took our new Northwestern University branch partners out to dinner in the renovated old Souq in Doha. We went to a modernized but culturally reminiscent rooftop restaurant overlooking the streets of the Souq to the right. It was wonderful walking through the streets in the warm evening, viewing various vendors who had products either like or from the old days of the Souq - spices, teas/coffees, dates, rugs, carved wood icons, and any others. We left the evening refreshed by something old, yet renewed for us to enjoy.
By contrast, I'm in Dubai on a student recruitment trip this week. We've been visiting schools who might logically have students interested in Education City. The city of Dubai (pictured to left through the playground of one of the schools) resembles little, if anything, of its heritage. Oh, to be sure, many Arab business men still wear thobes but, for the most part, the feeling of the hotel I'm in and the neighborhoods I've seen are like any European or North American city - only newer and a bit more luxurious.
The tale of these two cities leads me to wonder what it takes for a city to be prosperous and progressive, yet not lose itself. What are the things worth keeping and what things need serious change? It's a question I'm still sorting out as I see more of this region. Come back in a few days for pictures of Abu Dhabi - that's the next stop.