Sunday, February 22, 2015

Going Gold at the Movies

in the Gold Lounge
Since we're suffering a yucky multi day sandstorm (for those of you who haven't seen pictures on FaceBook, I'll put comparison view pictures at the end of this post), I opted to explore one of the things on my Dubai bucket list: going Gold at the movies. I understand that movies with extra nice seats and a full restaurant menu on offer are not exclusive to the UAE but the way they infuse the whole experience with status and luxury here seems to match up nicely with the designer handbags and showy sports cars that are symbolic of a high profile Dubai lifestyle.

We went to see the comic action spy blockbuster, The Kingsmen. Bought tickets online ahead of time. When you show up at the theater, just past the garishly lit popcorn and candy counter for the regular movie goers, there's a smoked glass wall with a simple hostess podium bearing the word
perusing our menus- I guess we could also have been reading magazines
my mini food on slate- served to my recliner
Gold, in gold, of course, on black. We presented our tickets and the glass doors slid open to reveal a lounge. We were invited to have a seat and peruse the menu. I picked a selection of two mini burgers. I could have gone with a mini hot dog or mini potato skins or no end of other bar-food like items classed up by serving them in miniature on a slab of slate with an accompanying mini basket of fries. We also got a popcorn, of course, because it's still the movies. It's just regular popcorn, because why mess with a good thing? After we placed our order in the lounge, we went on into the theater. Oh, except I ran to the loo first and, of course, there were cloth hand towels in a little basket.

There were maybe 40 recliners, stadium seating style so no sight lines are blocked. We took our recliner seats and got our blankets (movie theaters here are just like the ones in the US, always chilly) and shortly they brought our sodas (yes, in other places- heck, even Utah, you can get cocktails, but I am in the Middle East, remember. So no booze, just dry luxury.) We settled in to watch the previews and commercials before the main event and my food arrived (on my personal armrest table) just in time for me to sneak a quick photo before the movie began.
cozied up- blanket and recliner

Some of the naughtiest bits of movies are censored/ cut here. I heard The Wolf of Wall Street was 45 minutes shorter in the UAE. ( I also heard from some people-not fans of the movie- that they wish the film's editors would have made at least 45 minutes worth of cuts if not more.)  Pretty sure nothing was censored in this one- there wasn't much nudity or on screen immoral behavior- a bit of overt suggestion and some violence, but it's a spy action movie after all.

I was a fan of the Gold movie experience! Not sure it was entirely worth the price tag (about $30 per ticket, another $15 or so per person on food) but it was a great splurge for  day when being outside was not so nice and I'm pretty sure I'll splurge again in the future because, well, it's all part of my high rollin' Dubai life!

view from balcony post rain in January

same view mid sandstorm yesterday

Thursday, February 5, 2015

an apple a day...

My arches have fallen and they can't get up, at least not without fancy orthotic shoe inserts that Sebastian, the German orthotics and prosthetics guy, will have custom made for me Tennessee. I learned that on my consult last weekend at the mall. Yes, I go to the mall for my healthcare. Not
everyone in Dubai does, there are hospitals and clinics all over. On one occasion, I went to see a specialist in a converted home (mini mansion) where limited parking means required valet service. But for most of my healthcare needs, it's the world's largest mall for me, because that's how I roll (or because it was one of the places near my house I was sure I knew how to get to when I first had to make an appointment.)

Healthcare here isn't especially different from healthcare in the US from a consumer point of view- outside of the mall business. I suspect it may be a bit different for the doctors. Talking with a podiatrist last summer, she mentioned that there weren't enough podiatrists in the country to have a society- I guess you need at least 12 practitioners and they couldn't muster that many. Anyhow, I have an insurance policy, provided by my employer. I find a clinic or doctor or hospital that does direct billing (or if I don't I can submit claims for reimbursement) and I go see doctors and have procedures and labs done and whatever.

I just read an article about a phase-in plan to require employers in small companies to provide insurance in Dubai. Larger companies already must and in Abu Dhabi, apparently, they already have mandatory universal insurance coverage. All over the country, Emirati citizens can avail themselves of free government provided healthcare though from what I understand, most prefer a private insurance provider for the greatest choice and highest quality care. It's the many ex-pat laborers who will be covered as this new law becomes mandatory. It's already the case that you won't be refused emergency care at a hospital.

A few things are different though. For any ongoing prescriptions, the max a doc can prescribe at one time is a 3 month supply so I have to go see my doctor every 3 months. It's a bit of a pain but at the same time, when I call for an appointment, I can usually get in within 24-48 hours of my call if I'd like and the doctors tend to have some evening and weekend hours available too. Though I took advantage of that last week and it led to a small act of rebellion- I parked in a spot that was clearly not designed to be parked in. This is widespread and obnoxious behavior, this wedging your car into any blank space, something I wasn't keen to participate in, but I'd spent 20+ min stuck in traffic inside the parking garage. I was about to be late and was feeling desperate. It was the last evening of the month- long shopping fest and on a weekend evening, that was part of the problem. In the end there were no ill effects (I didn't get a ticket, no one backed into my car and I got over feeling bad about being one of the jerky parkers.)
blurry pic of the space age waiting area

 I've also had a pleasantly international array of medical professionals. My primary care physician is Spanish, her nurse assistant is Filipino, there's the aforementioned German orthotics guy and the podiatrist was Scottish (ingrown toenails sound nicer with a lilt). I can fill my entire prescription right there at the mall clinic (seems to a number of Indian pharmacists) after my appointment. They never seem to have quite enough in stock to cover all 3 months at once, but they write me a note and call me when more stock comes in and it's back to the mall.

The whole process is simultaneously super high tech, efficient and advanced (I get a text immediately after I schedule an appointment, the billing people are in regular real-time contact with insurance people to approve stuff while I wait) and also very small town and casual (the little handwritten  note about the extra meds the pharmacy owes me, the fact that my doc will call me after she gets my labs to chat about them.)
could be a hallway at a medical complex anywhere in the US, huh?