The sun was very hot, as usual, and my dress was long and with full sleeves due to the local custom. I couldn’t wear trousers of course as these were seen as the sign of a woman of ill repute, and that’s not what I particularly wanted to be mistaken for. We were off on a visit and were driving ourselves so didn’t need to be collected by a car bearing the proverbial red number plates used by the royal family. The drive was quite short and the guards on the entry gate waved us in. Inside the palace it was cool and we were shown into an ornate room decorated mostly in gold, probably real.
Our hostess, known by her Arabic title as Sheikha, entered wearing midnight blue embroidered in silver and her face covering was, as usual, black. Sheikha spoke extremely good English, had a great interest in world affairs and she was indeed walking history as she remembered clearly the power struggles between the nomadic tribes in the Emirates when she, as a young girl, handed loaded guns to her uncle during the fighting. We were made welcome and given orange juice and biscuits, the ones especially reserved for British visitors.
Then the afternoon commenced, the purpose of which was to help our hostess select the jewels she would wear for the forthcoming wedding of her nephew, son of the Ruler of Dubai. The wedding would last seven days and for each day she would choose different sets of jewels to match the seven different garments she was to wear. Her assistants were summoned and soon there were leather and crocodile cases with jewels spilling out and two assistants handing round tiaras, necklets and ear-rings for our comments. So many glittering gems but eventually choices were made, the ruby set chosen because our hostess knew that the Queen of England had a tiara similar to this one. The diamonds because they were just so beautiful, (and hey they go with anything don’t they?) We also visited the room next door which contained many metal suitcases filled with perfume and gifts from the Bride’s family.
Now it was nearing time to leave as we had stayed the required visiting time and were saying our thanks and farewells when our hostess asked if I would like to try the tiara that had belonged to the Shah of Persia which her nephew had recently purchased from Sotheby’s for 1.5 million pounds. Of course I did, wouldn’t you? This was probably the most exquisite item of jewellery I will ever see and I did wear it if only for two minutes. I felt as though I had briefly held a piece of history and I will always remember our lovely friend Sheikha and her thoughtfulness and kindness.
So it was a lovely day out and an adventure, there were more adventures to follow and I’ve been very lucky to be part of them.