Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Heart Satwa

Forget Harvey Nichols, Satwa's where it's at!
After working for much of yesterday at a client event (never any need to work at the weekend, but at least it was for a lovely client) I spent a lovely few hours in one of my favourite places in Dubai: Satwa.  It's one of the original community areas in Dubai, long before Downtown was even a twinkle in HRH's eye...

As well as residential it's also commercial, with heaps of shops.  There's a standard joke in Dubai that if you need something and you can't find it in Satwa, it doesn't exist.  To prove how diverse the place is, this is what I got up to yesterday:

Books are expensive in Dubai, with a new release, even if in paperback, regularly costing ten quid or more. And with the rate that I read, that makes for an expensive hobby.  Enter the wonderful 'Book World' which is a second hand bookshop the size of a postage stamp, stuffed chockful of all sorts of fiction, non fictions, kids books, old name it, it's in there.  And not only are the books a bargain, when you've read them, you can take them back, redeem half of what you paid for them, and swap them for new ones!  After a bit of chin scratching in the philosophy section (who am I kidding) I admitted defeat and snaffled up a couple of bonkbusters to take to Nepal. 3 books cost me approximately 1 quid.  Love it.

Satwa is known for having lots of tailors, and the key is to know which one you want to visit. If you just pick one randomly, you may have a bad experience and end up looking less than fabulous.  I do know one such great tailor, but here's the rub: I haven't been for two years.  And it's down a tiny backstreet alley.  And Satwa is basically one giant backstreet alley. 

I followed my nose in the general direction I last remembered heading.  Call it perseverance, call it the universe, but it wasn't long before I stumbled, quite literally, across the tailor that I knew and loved.  I unloaded a bag of material which was bought two years ago (luckily I have great taste that transcends the years, ha ha) and in two weeks time  I will be the happy owner of one new shirt dress (copied from a Paul and Joe favourite) one new kimono top (vintage copy) and one new work shirt (single white femaled from VH...puffed sleeves, long cuffs, just perfect for work).

Kitchen Supply Shops
I have no idea why, but I just love to see piles of saucepans, Tupperware, and various metal kitchen implements that I have no idea how to use.  Then I love to question the store owners about what they are to be used for.  I can go on for hours like this, picking things up quizzically, and discussing them - me with my non existent Arabic and them with their limited English.  I didn't have much time to spare on this but I did discover that you can buy electrical frankincense burners.  Who knew?

Hardware Stores
No, I haven't taken leave of my senses, I need some shelves, and IKEA is just snoreville.  Much more fun to head into a treasure trove of a hardware store and ask for brackets instead.  And however cheap IKEA may be, they don't do brackets for 10 dirhams.  You  also don't gather a crowd as the only white, blonde, western woman striding up and down the (very cramped) aisles.  It was more of a shuffle, really.

Well brackets needs shelves, don't they!  This little store frontage, I suspect, was the tip of a very large wood iceberg, but I couldn't really see past the piles and piles of wood.  I wouldn't say that English was the strong language of the lovely owner but we somehow worked out how long and wide I wanted the wood to be.  And the colour (the easy bit).  Just five short minutes later the aforementioned lovely owner bought these over to the car for me (he looked aghast when I suggested I would stand and wait) and passed them to me through the car window. Two beautiful shelves for 50 dirhams (ten quid).

After that it was a pleasant twenty minutes with the boy's tailor, which involved discussions about material, stitching, design features, and consultation of numerous photos on the iphone.  After that it was a very pleasant few drinks in one of Dubai's oldest hotels (and one of my favourites) followed by a street dinner at Ravi's

I love Downtown, and all the glitz and glam of Dubai, btu this remains by favourite way to pass some time...


Anonymous said...

Cool blog! :)
Hope you don't mind I listed your blog on my blog post?!


Britney of Arabia said...

so glad you like it!

Vanz said...

Hi, I googled for tailors in Satwa and came across your blog. I enjoyed reading about Satwa on your blog, I agree.. it’s truly a treasure trove… if you know where to look. :)
I am looking for a good tailor, heard the good ones are in Satwa. Need to get a couple of evening gowns stitched. Would you know any such tailor who could do a good job, without ruining the material. BTW, would you have the contact number of your tailor in Satwa. Thank you in advance

Britney or Arabia said...

Hello Vanz! I go to Ishwar at Coventry tailors, they are down a little alley way opposite the post office. He is great. Number is 04 344 7563.