Dubai: As 200 or so Chinese stared wide-eyed in pride at a huge special screen erected to telecast the Olympics opening ceremony, it was business as usual for a couple of thousand other Chinese at a packed Dragon Mart on Friday.
Dubai's own "Chinatown" was crammed with thousands of shoppers at 4pm on Friday, just as the Olympics opening ceremony was about to begin thousands of kilometres away in Beijing.
Dragon Mart held an official celebration for the Olympics last month and set up a special screen yesterday to telecast the Olympics for those Chinese who wanted to watch the games.
But only a small number of Chinese there chose to leave their shops and businesses to get a live view of the historic occasion on the first day of the weekend.
Chi Yin Lan, a saleswoman at a watch store at Dragon Mart, said she couldn't leave her business on such a busy day to watch the opening ceremony.
"I don't just want to watch the Olympics on television, I want to be there," she said. "But there are a lot of shoppers here."
Alice, a vendor at a massage equipment store, could hardly spare a minute to talk as she attended to potential customers."Of course I want to watch the Olympics; it's a historic moment for China, but I'm too busy here," she said as she demonstrated a massage machine on a Gulf national's shoulder.
"But my colleague and I are taking turns. She watches the opening ceremony for 15 minutes and comes back, and then I go," she said.
Nini, the owner of a computer shop, said business was booming in both China and Dubai, which made her move a wise one. China's position as a producer of electronics and the region's growing demand for them meant there was a business opportunity here that could not be missed, she said. "I couldn't leave my store to watch the Olympics," she added. "So we're watching it live online."
For many Chinese, this is the new face of their country and its people: proud, energetic, and always open for business; demonstrated by China's hosting of the games, and the very presence of a large Chinese community in Dubai.
For Yang, another computer shop owner, it was a moment of pride for Chinese all over the world. Asked why he was not watching the Olympics, he shrugged. "It's Friday. Good business," he said as he moved on to attend to another customer.