I have been asked to help out in a northern Emirate, and, if I decide to go up there, I’ll need a cheap place to stay, so Fahad recommended Mohammed, who is from the Emirate. Mohammed called me at work and invited me to a wedding. He told me to take a taxi to the Khatt roundabout, and he’d meet me there. (The guidebook says Khatt is the location of a spring, famous for being hot, especially in the summer months.) The taxi asked for a bit extra, above the meter reading. This tends to annoy me, but, when Mohammed arrived, there was an interchange in Arabic, and Mohammed gave the taxi driver the surcharge (I still don’t know why the driver deserved it). The wedding was a few kilometres further. Mohammed had a new laser pointer that, according to the salesman, is good for three kilometres. Mohammed kept saying to me and to everyone he met, ‘Three kilo,’ as he pointed to the beam coming from his pointer.
We reached the wedding, parked, and a young man led us to the men’s section. There were tents with food, but we never went inside. Thankfully, Mohammed seems to prefer mall food to roast goat served on a bed of spicy rice, which I saw being carried into the tents. Outside the tents were two rows of men, about 10 meters long, facing each other. The rows were about 5 meters apart. The men in the rows were all chanting and holding camel sticks, and waving the camel sticks up and down in time to the music. Between the two rows a group of men danced in an oval, while the men not standing in line or dancing watched. A few of the dancers beat the Arabic drums (I forgot to ask the name of the drums in the UAE; the name varies depending on location). Most of the dancers held camel sticks, which they twirled like batons. A few rather young boys held steel swords (not sharp, but still swords) which they tossed high into the air, then tried to catch. Several young boys had plastic guns from Toys ‘R’ Ahmed’s, which lack the bright orange tips required in the West. They twirled the guns, sometimes tossing them high in the air and catching them (safer than the swords, I’d say.) One older man had a .22 rifle, which he twirled.
I knew that if a US pilot saw so many guns without the bright orange tips, he’d bomb first and ask questions later, so I was a little nervous, though I know that US F-16s don’t fly over the UAE.
The men who weren’t in the two lines, or dancing between them, stood around and watched as several servers came around with Arabic coffee. Just handing the server the cup back is a request for a re-fill. Wagging the cup before handing it back means the person has had enough coffee. I watched Mohammed, and drank as many cups as he did each time. Then a break, then another server would come with more coffee.
After the song had gone on for more than two hours, I began to hope for an F-16.
So I said I was tired and had to get up early the next morning, and Mohammed insisted we first go to the mall for dinner, then he took me home.