On Friday evening, the Dubai Mall’s food court is the busiest place in the city. People round and round in circles for longer than half hour holding trays laden with fast food, with the hope to find a place to sit and eat. If you respect yourself, never go to the Dubai Mall’s food court on Friday evening or on any evening at all. The fast food will taste even worse when you combine it with the unpleasant and irritating experience of not finding a table.
There is no supervisor, manager or security guard to install an order, but merely a cleaner who doesn’t speak any other than his Indian native dialect. Even he is overworked and overstressed by the crowd, but keeps rushing and swiping the empty trays, plates and cups from the tables hurried by impatient Arab nationals. They are not used to wait and not to get what they want immediately, or at least their behavior demonstrates such attitude towards life and “the servants”. Yes, in the Arab world, people who clean and help with the house work are called “servants.”
However, on this Friday evening when we circled around the food court we saw a group of teenagers sitting around absolutely empty table and chatting. A few circles around the food court with the trays – half hour already passed, but their food did not arrive, neither they looked like they are planning to get up from the table. They spoke loudly in Arabic with Egyptian accent and played with their smartphones. Few of the boys were clean shaven and wore modest T-shirts. Two boys were clearly pop stars-influenced, but the girls overshadowed them completely. The young women were overweight, but wore tight and revealing clothes. Their faces were unrecognizable, a few tones whiter than their natural skin tone. Bright red and full lips looked somewhat grotesque in the food court, but coupled with the cheap blue contact lenses, they scared kids away.
Near by, young mothers standed by tables with one or two chairs only, and watched their 4 or 5 kids sitting by two on a chair eating fries and KFC. Their husbands searched around the food court to find more chairs, which they brought one by one to the tables. The youths looked at them with apathy and kept laughing, playing with their smartphones and chatting carefree.
After half hour of standing by a table with no chars at all and waiting for my son to find two chairs for us, which he didn’t, I couldn’t help myself, but went to the youths table and asked politely for two of the chairs on which they kept their backpacks. They said “NO”, because they said their friends will bring their food soon and they will need the chairs. So, I went back to the table with no chairs. Ten minutes passed. No one came to the youths table bringing food. The teens seemed happier than ever. Bravely, I approached them again and told them that we need two of the chairs on which they keep their backpacks. They tried to refuse again, but my courage made them a little unsure and I quickly grabbed two chairs with an explanation that by the time their friends come with the food, we will be finished eating.
Half hour later, we finished with the food. It was extremely uncomfortable, because there were so many people standing around holding trays and waiting for someone to leave. I noticed a Chinese couple on the table on the left. When they finished eating, the man stood and approached a family with three kids and told them that they can sit on their table. The father was thankful and smiled. So, when we finished eating, I stood up and went to a young couple whom I noticed was standing near the wall since some time holding trays with food. I told them that we are leaving and they may come and sit on our table. They appreciated my idea and quickly followed me to the table.
So, we left and went to throw the leftovers on our trays in the designated area. There stood the cleaner. I tried to explain to him that the youths are sitting on a table already for an hour, not eating, but having fun and blocking the table for others. He didn’t seem to understand what I was saying, but nodded positively. The youths saw me pointing at them and started staring at us, which toke the worse out of me.
Furious, but determined to express my opinion, I approached them and said as loud as I could: “What an extreme arrogance! You are sitting here for an hour chatting, while people with small kids are standing and eating or waiting to sit and eat. This is a food court where people pay for their food and expect to eat normal. Find another place to chat and waste your time!”
The modestly dressed boys, with the clean haircuts, argued that there is no other place in the mall where they can sit and chat. The star-inclined teens laughed and stated that they are free to do what they please and this is a public place and I should get lost. I said back that I am at least two times older than them and they can’t speak to me in such manner. Sily me! I still believe that kids and teens should respect the older than them…
Finally, the shouting match seemed impossible to win. They were seven, while I was alone. My son stood next to me and watched, and I was worried what example I am giving to him. So, I concluded that they are shameless and I am sorry, but they have to leave and make space for the people who want to eat. Then the only girl who wore hijab turned to me and told me that I am the shameless one, because they gave me their chairs on which they were keeping their backpacks, but I didn’t returned back to them, and moreover gave the chairs to other people to sit and eat their meals in the food court.