We muse Dubai's toilet facilities, do we have the best loos or do our restrooms let us down? Let's debate
There’s no denying that Mercato Mall in Jumeirah is the very essence of Italy. From the brightly coloured imitation wooden shutters on the fake windows to the carefully painted blue Mediterranean skyline, the designers have gone to excruciating levels to ensure pretend piazza-style perfection. Visitors casually supping an espresso in the chic Starbucks café on the ground floor can close their eyes and be whisked away into a busy scene from A Merchant Of Venice.
Clandestine meetings between local Romeo and Juliet types can easily be imagined in the pre-made pasta sauce aisle in Spinneys supermarket. Yet, despite such abundant examples of wild hand-gesticulating authenticity, there’s one fatal flaw. The theme stops in the toilets. Rather than washing your hands in fountain water spouted from a charming statue of a urinating street urchin, there’s just a basic sink and taps affair. Instead of being able to relax on a cubicled throne sculptured from the finest Italian marble, it’s a boring Armitage Shanks job. And this is the trouble across much of Dubai. In a town where on average 168.2 per cent of all restaurants and shopping malls follow some sort of ‘international’ theme, a trip to the bathrooms can bring you sharply back down to reality with an almighty splash (sorry).
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Dubai’s lavatory facilities. When it comes to cleanliness, provision of toiletries and having a paper towel thrust in your face by a smiling attendant, our little boy’s (and girl’s) rooms are works of art. But they fall dramatically short of providing the same tacky exposure to stereotypes so expertly displayed elsewhere.
Let’s say you were thoroughly immersed in an evening of Bavarian-based sauerkraut shenanigans in one of the city’s many German-themed eateries (turning a blind eye to the number of Lederhosen-clad Filipinas who appear to be masquerading as oompa-loving European waitresses). Should the call of nature interrupt the stein-swinging sausage-fest, taking a leak in a bathroom can totally kill your bratwurst buzz.
And what about those dining extravaganzas that involve multiple themes for those who can’t decide? By the time you’ve passed through the Thai, Mexican, Indian and Japanese ‘stations’ to reach the UN-style neutral-territory of the toilet, your bladder is in such a jet-lagged state of geographical confusion that any motions previously stirring now believe they’re in a different time zone and have gone back to bed.
The solution is simple: authorities should enforce a standard of theme-ness across all lavatories. And perhaps we’re culturally savvy enough to do without the fancy-dress routine in any case. Though what we’ll do with the spare Lederhosen is beyond me. Alex Ritman is a Dubai-based freelance writer.