The theme today is consumer goods. In a country where the women are garbed in dark flowing robes from head to toe (only the faces and hands are bared), it was amazing to see the array of clothing, jewellery and shoes for sale. I was told that at home away form the public eye, the women are ruthlessly fashionable. They get their hair and nails done every week. Few go out without full makeup. And those robes that drag along the ground are often discretely crusted with jewels. I caught many glimpses of killer shoes as the women strolled along in groups of two or three, always just ahead of or behind a watchful male relative. I found it odd that Islam does not permit the depiction of humans or animals in art yet the store window displays had mannikins (all Caucasian) and oversized ads complete with models.

It wasn’t only the opulence – sizeable stores selling only Manolo Blahnik shoes or gold doodads for the home) but the variety of famous designers. In a country that was so hot that no one walked outside, there were clothes trimmed with fur. Mind you, the mall temperature was cooler than the inside of a refigerator somaybe that did make sense. There was so much glitter everywhere you looked and after a while my head began to throb.

For a moment, I felt sort of plain in my sensible shoes and demure cotton togs. Then again, no one was looking at me anyway. Plus I could walk wherever I wanted to without having a chaperone. Ah, the joys of travel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.