Dubai airport: cultures collide

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Cross Cultural / Cross cultural ministry / Tanzania / Traveling

In 2015 my husband and I spent about a month in Tanzania, including transit via Dubai, UAE, and Nairobi, Kenya. I am publishing today and in the following days parts of my travel journal which I think provide an interesting look at other worlds that coexist with my Western one in Northern California.

The sea of non-western humanity is remarkable to me. Many women in burkas, some of them in their formless anonymity also beasts of burden. A woman just walked by in this ultra modern airport in traditional hijab, barefoot, carrying her flip-flops in one hand and balancing an enormous stuffed plastic bag on her head with the other hand. Clearly, she felt more comfortable bearing this load with her feet firmly planted instead of in the squishy instability of flip-flops.

A small boy in a white gown walks on the outside of the moving sidewalk, his hand in his father’s who has chosen to ride a brief way. They chat nonchalantly.

A group of Maasai women in matching red/black outfits ambles by, strikingly beautiful, like tall young trees. One of them is comfortably wrapped in a Maasai blanket over her outfit. Maybe they are a traveling sports or debate team? Yes, Kenya Pipeline Volleyball team.

Hijab-clad woman with backpack and violin in case.
Paul, a French patisserie, has the longest line of any restaurant.
There is a children’s area with carpeted seats in front of a big screen Disney movie. Apparently, all children speak Disney. It is flanked by a popular Starbucks and a Winston smoking room, sealed and full.



Our flight is 2 hours late leaving Dubai, so we arrive Nairobi during rush hour=1 1/2 hour drive from the airport to our hotel. On the plus side, we get to see giraffes in an area near the airport. I wonder how they have managed to incorporate the airport noise into their reality?

Nairobi is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, especially to see Karen Blixen’s home and museum from Out of Africa. Another time. Tomorrow, on to Kilimanjaro to meet our safari guide as well as a young missionary family I befriended online and am taking a large suitcase of supplies to.

The Author

Imperfect follower of Jesus, wife to the greatest guy in the world, Mom to five wonderful grown children, and happy Nana to their ten littles. Having grown up in the Deep South, I retain a love for all things Southern. I became an amateur cultural anthropologist during a significant time living in SE Asia and still get to travel the world on mission and for fun with my sweetheart. I love asking questions, cooking for my family, helping women breastfeed, walking in the woods, eating biscuits, and having deep conversations about things that matter. On my wishlist are reading more, playing the piano, painting watercolor scenes, figuring out my awesome camera, and writing to soothe my soul.


  1. Carolyn says

    Holly, thanks for bringing me into the picture. Since Julia is now living in Nigeria these cultural insights are close to my heart. Great descriptive writing. I especially liked the comparison of the sports team to the graceful trees. Hope you and yours are doing well.


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