x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Observing Life: Making a scene with a sofa in Dubai

Helping a friend move apartments causes a scene at Dubai's The Walk.

The other week I gave a friend a hand moving apartments. He could have gone down the usual UAE route and hired a van-load of gentlemen to pack-up, carry, load, drive, unload, carry and unpack everything while he sat there with his feet up working his way through a large Burger King meal.

But no, we were men. And besides, there were only a few items and the flats were only about 400 metres apart.

Unfortunately, one of the items happened to be a massive sofa. And the 400 metres included two lift journeys and a lengthy stretch down The Walk in front of Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Residences, a pavement teeming with cafes, restaurants and - worst of all - people.

Having balanced the sofa (a four-seater) somewhat precariously on a little wheeled cart, we set off, looking like a distinctly less funny Laurel and Hardy sketch. Aside from a few hilarious "sofa bigger than door" moments, the elevator element of the journey went relatively smoothly. The difficulties came when we were faced with the general public.

Having cleverly selected the busiest time of the day, we stepped outside to find literally hundreds of people crammed on to The Walk, an unsuitable name given the speed of most pedestrians (The Annoyingly Slow Shuffle might be more appropriate). And of these hundreds, it appeared not one had ever witnessed someone attempting to move a large item of furniture before. The general response was one of abject confusion. People stared. People looked at us weirdly. I've seen individuals strolling around this part of town dressed like Mr T who haven't raised so much as an eyebrow (except mine), but two guys and a sofa and suddenly it's wacky time.

On the other side of the spectrum, there were those who simply didn't notice us at all, even to the point of walking straight into us and somehow expecting us to move out of the way, despite the fact we were clearly struggling with an oversized sofa that was continually threatening to fall on our heads.

The only thing we could attribute this attitude to was that somehow we were coming between these people and their idea of a luxury beachside lifestyle. There we were, with a big sofa, interrupting their "alfresco dining with view of the sea" experience. And the easiest response: pretend it's not happening.

A few days later, I lent my friend a colander (he was cooking rice), which involved me walking this same patch of land clutching a kitchen utensil. And while there wasn't the same response as there was for the sofa, this oft-used cylindrical draining device certainly got some bewildered looks.

So my plan now is to walk The Walk only while holding something bizarre, be it a hat stand, inflatable Barbie castle or gigantic ceramic statue of Lenin. Who knows, it might catch on. Anything's got to beat a miniature dog in a handbag.