I spent a happy 20 years living near the beach in Dubai and now, as a visitor I still consider Um Suquiem to be ‘my beach’.
There is simple pleasure to be had in a later afternoon swim or a coffee and ‘cheesy lebanesy’ bread bought from the ENOC garage at 7am and picnicked on the beach before the Arabian sun gets too fierce.
The public beach has changed since I left in 2011, now boasting showers, Boardwalk, snack shack and running track, but it is still ‘my beach’.
Friday morning, being weekend here, and the beach is already busy at 0730. Colourful Indian ladies are wallowing in the shallow water, fully clothed in bright saris and gold rimmed glasses. Young Filipinos gather in groups, enjoying their music and smiling in each other’s company. European parents smother their toddlers in sun screen and set them afloat in strange contraptions, bobbing on the calm clear blue sea.
Suddenly a herd of children in skin suits run down the beach brandishing body boards. The dads call them to order and they sort themselves into age groups for games and training – this is surely some kind of antipodean junior surf school. The dads maintain tight discipline whilst new mothers shield their new born babies, chatting and watching. This is family time after a tough working week.
I retreat inland as the sun ascends and enjoy the shade of the garden for a while. Bright bougainvillea in pink blossom and the unmistakable scent of Jasmine and frangipani. I love the peacefulness – cooing of gentle Palm doves and chattering if bul buls and minah birds in the palm trees.
My babies are full grown and I can enjoy the nostalgia with a warm glow of happiness.