x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai: a surprise a minute

It's one city where it's wise to expect the unexpected.

It's probably safe to say, Dubai is one place you should expect the unexpected.

Take a recent trip to my local pharmacy, for example. As I hurriedly burst through its doors to buy some vitamin C, I found myself airborne, having stumbled over a wheelchair parked just inside the entrance. A wheelchair - for sale in this tiny shop next to hair scrunchies and waterproof plasters - surely not? In fact, yes.

And we're not talking about a flimsy, single-use, short hop type chariot either, oh no. Neatly stacked against the wall were 10 gleaming, aluminum-framed, black-upholstered chairs complete with seat belts and retracting footrests. These luxury models were on sale for a mere Dh199 and just in case you were also in the market for some lightweight crutches, you could bag yourself a pair for Dh165.

In the six months since I had last visited the tiny, off-the-beaten-track store, it had transformed itself into a veritable Aladdin's cave. Aside from the predictable aspirins, toothbrushes and after-sun crèmes - deluxe foot-spas and costume jewellery now filled every available inch of counter space.

Why this surprisingly comprehensive array of medical equipment and fashion accessories surprised me, I can't say, for Dubai seems to be the place where you can buy practically anything, anywhere.

Where else, for example, can you pick up a self-drive lawn mower, an abaya and some lamb's feet for dinner but Carrefour? Equally, how surprising to be able to pay a Dewa bill, buy shoe polish and new sunglasses while filling up your tank at Enoc petrol stations. Dubai mega-mall Dragon Mart surely offers the most random shopping experience of all, where industrial-sized fridges, 40-foot fish tanks and fur coats can all be found under one very big roof.

This one-stop-shop approach, of course, extends to food as well, and it's not uncommon to stumble upon a restaurant offering Japanese, Indian and Arabic cuisine on the same menu. What can I say? We're spoilt for choice everywhere we look.