Thursday, January 05, 2012

Ad for the Bab al Shams

Some years ago, an Egyptian with limited English (he spoke much more English than I speak Arabic, but that isn't saying much) asked me if I'd been to the Arab Tower. I had no idea what he was talking about at first, but eventually, I found out that he meant the Burj al Arab.

Dubai sometimes translates Arab names into English, as it does with the Emirates Towers (Abraj al Emirat in Arabic), and sometimes transliterates, as it did with the Burj al Arab. If there's any kind of pattern, it is one I have been unable to discern.

So the Bab al Shams resort on the Dubai-Al Ain highway is just transliterated as Bab al Shams, which means Gate of the Sun. Since it's very expensive, I've never been to see if they tell the English-speaking tourist what the name actually means.

Anyway, I recently saw an ad for this Gate of the Sun, avidly watched by some of my better-heeled Arab friends, who quite enjoyed the ad and plan to go for the luxurious treatment available there for those with ample dosh. Since they don't know Western music, none of them were aware that the music that accompanied the ad was Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

A strange incongruity that, I strongly suspect, one no one else will ever notice.