I’ve been here in Dubai for almost 7-months already, but I still consider myself a happy, eager, ready-for-almost-anything tourist. Whenever I walk around the city, para akong naglalakad sa Luneta (it feels like a leisurely stroll in Luneta park) because I manage to see very new things that, apparently, even long time residents fail to notice.
One of my favorite obscure Dubai sites is the Al Ghurair mosque. This quaint and picturesque mosque, a refreshing sight amongst the more modern beige structures right smack in the middle of Deira. Unlike other mosques in Dubai, which stand majestic and proud with its minarets rising above all other structures in the vicinity; this little one remains humble and maybe even shy, hidden by the taller more modern surrounding buildings. The mosque seems as if it sunk down into the ground as the dome and a single minaret remains to be the only parts visible.
What else did I see today in the city of gold? I saw my very first beggar, a labor-worn, ashen bearded South Asian man in raggedly clothes, who stretched out his palm, motioned his other hand to his mouth in hunger, and mumbled in his mother tongue, as I passed him, walking along the dusty pebble strewn path to home.
Heartbreaking sights like this give me a heightened sense of consciousness of Dubai’s harsh realities, cloaked by the pompous luxury, which all residents, no matter what nationality, face on a daily basis. Does this mean that I’m a tourist no more?