I’m not usually a mall person but our voyage to the Mall of the Emirates was an event. First off, the sparkling new subway was crowded that morning, so the platform guard gestured for me to board the Women & Children only car, where I wouldn’t have had to rub shoulders or other body parts with men. Being me and equipped with well-functioning elbows, I tried to decline his offer but he would hear none of it. Muttering to myself, I trudged into the segregated but more spacious car. Looking to my right, I had to laugh. Like the newer TTC trains there were no dividers. I could see Hub’s blonde head above all of the other dark-haired, shorter inhabitants in front of him. Between the black-clad women and hi was a two-foot gap. I guess functional distance was as effective as a real barrier. If we had known, we would have paid double ($3) for a ride in the spacious Gold class car at the front, where they had aircraft seating and picture windows.

We took a taxi from the subway stop to the Mall, because it was 36 degrees and no one walks in the heat. Inside, the air was frosty. When you’re in the desert and money is no object, being ‘green’ means that you can do just about anything you want to stay comfortable. The excess was breathtaking. Store displays where the photos on the wall are interactive and follow your progress as you walk by, shoe stores stocked ceiling to floor with jewelled platform shoes, designer everything.

Outside, the relentless sun bleached the colour from the sky. Inside on the viewing deck, as we stared in awe at the ski hill (-2 degrees), what struck me was the women in their flowing black robes clad in parkas, following their children bundled up in boots and snowsuits. Like kids everywhere, they were shrieking with joy, clambering up the mini-slopes and throwing snowballs. Perhaps we should let the children run the world for a few days…