At the Wafi mall this morning there was a long line of harassed-looking parents, their kids orbiting round a Christmas tree two houses high with baubles the size of small planets.
Barely concealing the fact they wished they could have spent the morning sleeping in and reading the paper rather than queuing for Santa, the parents were doing their best to keep their overexcited offspring under control as the queue inched forwards.
People must have been waiting at least an hour – if not more – I’m guessing, but were remaining resolute – the promise of seeing Dubai’s most authentic-looking Santa, in that his beard is said to be genuine, followed by a free cup of tea and entrance to the play area proving to be a crowd puller.
Santa’s top-security grotto was heavily guarded by toy soldiers and you couldn’t even peep at the man in red – we tried but just found ourselves face-to-face with animatronics.
Then, at about quarter to one, a Filipino lady appeared and walked over to the queue. She stopped half way up the line and, ignoring the expectant little faces and restlessness among the ranks, announced with no apology:
“Santa’s taking a break at one.”
“For 30 minutes,” she continued, totally deadpan.
I’m not sure that the families in the second-half of the queue were even told of this fact, although I’m sure the news travelled fast.
We didn’t hang around to see the mutiny I presume ensued.
Honestly, you’d think, wouldn’t you, that since he only works for one month a year, Santa might be able to plough on through?