United Arab Emirates - Lunch Inside a Toilet Stall


When traveling to different places, I'm a firm believer that you should, as much as possible, try to respect the culture.   But sometimes following the culture can make you do things you might never think you will do.

That's exactly what happened in July, 2015 during my visit to the United Arab Emirates.

My friend Roberto Pazos and I took a bus from Dubai to the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.   We really wanted to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, commonly known as the White Mosque.

It was 111 degrees outside and we were both wearing shorts.   At the gate to the Mosque, they gave me a kandūrah or robe to wear because my shorts weren't quite long enough to cover my knees.  This photo shows my attire.  

Steve Hunsicker inside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Mosque is beautiful and was worth the visit, but what happened after this photo was taken was not as pleasant.    

We were there during Ramadan and the entire country does not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.  

In Dubai, there are places for non-Muslims to eat during the day.  Huge curtains are put up so that no one can see people eating and there are signs that say "No Muslims allowed."   Unfortunately, we didn't find any of those places in Abu Dhabi.

Almost all the stores and restaurants in Abu Dhabi were closed.   But it was hot, we were sweating like crazy and we had already exhausted the bottles of water we brought with us.   (We drank those in private.)   We were also very hungry.   We walked around before we finally found an open grocery store.    I went inside and found some prepared sandwiches and bottles of water.  I asked the clerk if there was anywhere private, we might be able to eat them.  She told me we couldn't eat them until after dusk.

We weren't about to wait to eat. I decided that the best place to eat without offending anyone, would be inside the stall of a bathroom.   No one would see us there and it was air conditioned.   We found a public toilet and Roberto waited outside, while I took my food inside.   I drank my first bottle of water in one gulp.  I quickly finished my sandwich.     I went out and Roberto ate next.   We both felt much better.   The only problem was we still had to go back into the stifling heat to shoot an episode for "Peruanos en el Mundo."  We did that, sneaking sips of water in private as we went.  

It is, and hopefully will be, the only time I've had lunch inside a public bathroom.


We spent most of our time in Dubai, but it was worth the 90 minute bus ride to see the Mosque.   I've linked below the segment of the show we shot in Abu Dhabi.  

Dates of Travel

  • July, 2015

Places Visited

  • Dubai
  • Abu Dhabi




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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