The Bus Stop at Prayer Time

I had a bus adventure in Dubai on Friday. Deciding that taxis were much too expensive, I thought that I would try to figure out the bus system. My three new Pakistani friends (see previous post) advised me to take the C1 bus from a particular stop just down from the corner of the street we’d just crossed. This advice followed a fairly animated discussion in Urdu. We shook hands waved good-bye and I joined the throng awaiting public transport.

I was the only westerner at the stop. It was mostly Pakistanis, with some Afghans, Indians, and South Asians thrown in for good measure. 80% of the population in UAE are ex-pats (“expatriates” – in other words people from somewhere else). These folks fill all the service sector and support type jobs. I was told that the Emirati are pretty much only Doctors, Teachers, Army, Police, Customs, and Politician. Everything else is covered by someone from out of town. The bus system is mostly for these non-western ex-pats who don’t make a whole lot of money comparatively.

Anyways, the plan was to catch this bus to the airport, where I would catch another bus to the area of town where I was staying. It was very important to catch a bus from the airport because the taxi meter from the

airport starts at 30 dirhams, whereas bus fare is only 1.5 dirhams. After a number of busses came and went, and I was wondering about the advice I had received, a C1 bus pulled up. I hopped on stood for a few stops and then was able to get a window seat to the airport.

At the airport it took a couple of conversations, walking to two different bus stops and a bit of studying the schedule to figure out that I needed the 11M. So I waited again. And waited and waited.

While I was waiting, the call to evening prayers sounded. Not from a far off mosque – but from the one situated in the Airport Parking garage. Yes, in this Islamic country, even the parking garages have mosques.

I have a video with the audio from the call to prayer but my computer connection at the internet cafe won’t accommodate video upload (or so it seems).

I eventually made it to my destination – 2.5 hours and 3 bus rides later. If it wasn’t for the kind assistance of a Mr. Muhammad Hamza on the last bus I never would have made it. He was a house driver for a wealthy household and was returning from his Friday off, which he had spent in downtown Dubai. Night had long since fallen when we got off the bus on the side of an exit ramp on a busy highway. We walked between the cement barrier and a construction ditch for .5 km or so.  We chatted about his home country and life in Dubai.  When he found out I was a Christian he spoke of how we share the same prophets.  The walk and chat were nice.  We got to Algeria Street where Mr. Muhammad said, “This is where I must go.” He pointed to a large house and then pointed down the street and gave me further directions. Go here, turn there, go here, turn there and you will see the mosque near where you are going. He assured me that Muslims and Christians can live in peace and took his leave.

His directions were right and after a 15-minute walk in the warm Dubai air my bus adventure ended as the nighttime call to prayer began to sound at the neighborhood mosque by the grocery store.

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4 Responses

  1. Katie – thanks for the prayers!

  2. Hey Larry – thanks for the comment and kind words. As far as Dubai being wired and tech savvy – I would say that is true for part of the population. The Emirati only make up 20% of the population and they are the upper classes and very tech hungry. There are a lot of ex-pat westerners as well – who are on the cutting edge. When you walk through a mall in the wealthy parts of town you have no problem finding the latest and greatest in tech. I left my cardreader at home and found a 9-in-1 that also reads cell phone SIM cards. I know that is not the kind of stuff you are talking about, but I had never seen a SIM card reader in the states. So anyways – the other 70% or so of the population are lower middle to lower class. They aren’t too tech savvy – although everyone has a cell phone. No westerner or emirati needs to use an internet cafe as they all have computers. The cafe I was hanging out in was frequented by mostly Fillipino service workers. So that’s my 2 dirhams on the tech issue! Thanks for reading.

  3. I have absolutely nothing of value to say, as I have no way to relate to what you’re doing there… but I will say that I’m thoroughly enjoying reading about your travels (and travails). I’m also interested in the “wired-ness” of Dubai as all I read about in Wired magazine and other online outlets is that Dubai is trying to be the most technologically advanced area in the world. That they’re very tech-centric. Which is interesting to me, given the street culture you’re encountering, which would seem to have little to do with what I’ve read about. Also odd considering that you don’t have a great connection to upload video. I know you’re not there to talk tech, but yeah… I just found that interesting. 🙂 Keep it up, man! People are reading!!!

  4. Hey Bri! Thanks for sharing the updates and pictures! I love hearing about your adventures. You’re in my prayers! Katie

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