Gay:sha at the most glamorous and outrageous hotel in the (Arab) World: Burj-al-Arab. 

Notice how "puritanical" islamic capitalist culture puts gilded mirrors above the beds.

Burj al-Arab, home of Puritanism
Gay:sha likes to bathe in the sky with a view.  The gym at this hotel has automatic weight plate adjusters -- you wouldn't want to have to lift a pin during your workout.
Pool with a View

In spring 2004 Gay:sha had a fabulous little expedition to the Middle East (primarily Dubai), all on some royal or another's di dime. Regrets to our boys dying for oil.  The Burj-al-Arab indeed beggars description, but for a more romantic and memorable experience, try The Royal One and Only Mirage (and try not to cringe at the name). It's moteif of medieval Morocco is infinitely more intoxicating than the Burj's de trop futurism. 

The jet the royals sent was quite fabulous and comfortable.  Gay:sha note to self:  always travel on a plane with a bedroom and queen bed. It makes the mile-high-club distinctly more civilized.

In her circle it was a matter of principle not to think too highly of "men in trade," but like every person of bourgeois outlook, she admired wealth in those depths of the heart that are quite immune to convictions, and the prospect of actually meeting so incredibly rich a man made her feel as if golden angel's wings had come down to her from on high.  Ever since her husband's rise, Ermedlinda Tuzzi was not entirely unaccustomed to consorting with fame and riches.  but fame based on intellectual achievements melts away with surprising speed as one becomes socially involved with its bearers, and feudal wealth manifests itself either in the foolish debts of young attaches or is constrainted by a traditional style of living without ever attaining the brimming profusion of freely pile-up mountains of money and the briliant cascadind showers of gold which the great banks and industrial combines fuel their business.  All Diotima knew of banks was that even their middle-echelon executives traveled first class on business, while she always to had to go second class unless accompanied by her husband.  This was the standard by which she imagined the luxury that must surround the top despots of financial operations on so oriental a scale.

  --Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, Vol 1, p. 98

Anyway, it was rather discomfiting to arrive in Dubai the very day Abu Ghraib broke as a story.  These are self-evidently (like a sledgehammer) sophisticated, worldly people, and the lameness of the lies and wan excuses from Washington made Gei:sha try to pass as Italian.  Fortunately, having gone to Business Finishing School in Milano, Gay:sha was actually able to pull this off convincingly.  

Dubai is a fascinating place to go -- like Las Vegas (which Gay:sha detests).  The most important thing in Dubai, more important than the Burj-al-Arab and any of the other mega-projects for the Sheik, is that it is an concretely demonstrates how if you let people attend to making money, they become slightly less preoccupied with the theological correctness of their neighbor.  This is indeed a useful thing to know. And, interestingly, occurs quite convincingly in a non-democratic system.

Gay:sha Norma
I'm Ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

The duplex rooms at the Burj really are just too much.  I love it when a hotel room has a limestone switchback staircase!  Gay:sha actually did feel as though the nebulous concept of international machinations and espionage was going on there. Gay:sha also experienced a completely novel sensation:  high confidence in being the poorest person in the room, so to speak. 

And the hotel, while undeniably luxurious, in really just excessive.  Kyoto is much more about restrained elegance, luxury in tiny details.  Whether or not Gay:sha's jewish background is fully in accordance with Kyoto understatement is a matter for a different time.  Burj Al-Arab has never seen a surface that couldn't be gilded.  And the service is so spectacular that it's creepy.  There's a butler station on every floor that you can't get to the elevator without passing.  There's usually one or two people staffing it. They're polite, but, evidently, if you're in your robe & swimming attire, they call down to the pool so that you are greeted by name.  It's creepy, different from Four Seasons New York relaxed elegance.  But then again, most guests at the Burj are used to having a team of servants, no doubt, so...

Burj al-Arab website: