About This Story
This story follows on from the Christmas 2009 story but it is more than twice as long and much more complex. It uses some familiar elements, however, in the girls working in the restaurant, Javid and Nasim [the little boys from Pakistan who work as window washers on the Burj Khalifa], the wicked Emir and a Father Christmas who is always in trouble.
The story reads well aloud with some poignant moments and some high excitement as Emily dangles from the window from the top of the world’s tallest building. I rather like the tidy way Emily has her fortune restored to her and the Emir is a kind of Arab Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the meaning of Christmas from the little boys who are at the bottom of the social heap.
Once again, the theme of redemption is a strong one and while the story ends with the potential for more excitement with the same characters, I never returned for inspiration to the Emir and the little boys he helps.
Chapter 1: Waitress at the Wafi Gourmet
Katie and Emily were bitterly disappointed. All year they had been looking forward to a Christmas holiday job at their favourite restaurant: Bab al Shams. Last year they had had a wonderful time there – even though the work was hard and the hours were long. They had made lots of friends among the staff. Whenever Katie felt lonely or tired as she went to bed at night she just had to remember Fatima, the lovely gracious lady who was the owner of the restaurant and who had looked after the girls so well when they worked there. She remembered Mr Samir, [the head waiter], Ibrahim [who looked after the camels] and Aziz and Aboud – the kitchen boys who became their good friends while they worked serving in the restaurant. The girls were looking forward to making lots of money too for their hard work. Emily had even been practising lovely smiles in the mirror in the hope that rich American tourists would give her a big tip. Both the girls had been practising their belly dancing skills and everyone agreed that they were really quite good. Fatima had promised that they could come back as soon as school finished for the holidays but on that very day, Mummy took a telephone call and came in to see the girls; she was looking glum.
“I’m sorry, girls,” said Mummy. “That was Fatima on the telephone. I’m afraid that there won’t be a holiday job for you at Bab al Shams this year. The whole restaurant has been put in quarantine!”
It was a terribly sad story. You will remember there were some lovely camels kept at the restaurant for guests to ride. One of them, Holly, had been Katie and Emily’s favourite. It seems that only last week, Fatima’s husband [a rather silly gentleman named SheikMustapha Scratch] had bought a new camel for the restaurant from a wandering Bedouin gentleman. The camel was a handsome, chocolate brown boy named Wadi with lustrous dark eyes and the cheekiest grin. Mustapha Scratch was boasting to everyone what a good deal he had had from the Bedouin and how cheap Wadi was; Fatima was not so happy. She made it a rule never to buy camels from wandering gentlemen – and sure enough, Fatima was right. The day after Wadi had joined the stable and the Bedouin gentleman had wandered back into the desert, Wadi came down with a clear case of camel pox. His lovely eyes were clouded over; he sneezed and dribbled and sat in his stall in the stable looking peaky. Soon, Holly and all the other camels were infected too. The Health Inspectors arrived and closed the restaurant so that the camels could recover and no one else would catch the disease. The restaurant staff were now busy beating camel medicine into the mash that the camels ate and making warm drinks to soothe their sore throats. The girls had wanted to go straight out to the desert restaurant to visit Holly and the other sick camels but no one – man or beast- was allowed to go near the restaurant for a month. It seemed a terrible situation.
Wadi, the new camel. He had the pox!
“But there is some good news,” said Mummy happily. “Fatima has arranged another holiday job for you – working with her sister, Mariam, at the Wafi Gourmet in the Dubai Mall.”
The girls were a little uncertain about this. Half the fun of the job at Bab al Shams was that the girls had lived at the restaurant in their own little room while they worked there. It was being so grown up. While they worked at Wafi Gourmet, they would have to come home at night and go back in the morning. Still, they knew the restaurant and really liked it. They had been there with Oma and the new job sounded great.
Do you remember how hard the girls had worked at Bab al Shams? There, tourists and visitors had come to eat their way through the wonderful buffet and people liked to linger there for a nice long meal. At the Wafi Gourmet, there were some people, certainly, who did this but many of the people who came in were busy and wanted to eat their lunch or dinner or a snack and then go. The girls found that they had to be very brisk. Lots of people just wanted a coffee or a milk shake. There was so much to learn.
Mariam, the kind lady at the Wafi Gourmet
There were new people too to get to know. They loved Mariam straight away; with her kindly smile and cheerful ways she was just like her little sister, Fatima. The other waiters in the restaurant were slim, dark boys from Pakistan – Ghafoor and Munawar – and there was a very regal looking cook named Mr Wasir who bossed everyone around – especially the kitchen hands, Fazil and Lufti, from Turkey. Mariam told them that the rules in the restaurant were very simple: everyone worked hard; there was no whingeing and whatever the customer might do, the staff were always cheerful and polite. The girls didn’t think that this would be too hard. They had seen plenty of difficult customers at Bab al Shams and the girls had managed to charm them all. How much harder could this be?
On their first day, the girls were there early to try on their uniforms. They had lovely crisp purple and white pinafores with the Wafi Gourmet logo embroidered on the pocket. A smart purple cap kept their hair in order; Mariam helped them pin it up so that it looked tidy. Having worked at Bab al Shams, the girls were experienced now at what customers needed and how a busy restaurant worked but that first rush at lunchtime on their first day was just overwhelming. There were so many customers and everyone seemed to need their lunch in a hurry. When the rush was over, Mariam called everyone together at one of the tables and made sure that they all had something nice to eat for their own lunch. She told the girls how pleased she was with them: she was sure they would fit into the Wafi Gourmet family.
The bossy cook, Mr Wasir
Most of the customers that day were local Emirati people. There were lots of families, gentlemen drinking coffee together and teenagers looking for a milk shake as they enjoyed their Christmas holidays. Of course there were also plenty of expat families too – Dubai had lots of different cultures and peoples. Just as it began to get dark [and before the dinner rush started] the girls had a milk shake themselves. They sat out on the terrace facing the lovely fountains and looked up into the beautiful Burj Khalifa.
A gentleman having a shisha at Wafi Gourmet
The girls never got tired of looking at this glorious blue glass building. It was, they thought, one of the loveliest things they had ever seen. They wondered about the people who lived in the tall building: of the people who stayed at the beautiful hotel and the many people who worked there every day. The girls didn’t know it, of course, but many of their customers at the Wafi Gourmet were people who lived in the Burj. It was their favourite spot for coffee or lunch. This afternoon as they stared at the building, Emily saw two tiny figures in fluorescent yellow tops clinging to the glass panels high up the tower. The two men were part of the team whose job it was to clean the windows of the Burj. Every time after that when the girls were tired or a little cranky they remembered those figures – and how easy it was to work in a restaurant compared with the men working to clean the glass windows of the Burj.
The beautiful Burj Khalifa in Dubai
Chapter 2: The Million Dollar Milk Shake
It was Friday afternoon at the end of the girls’ first week working at Wafi Gourmet. Katie and Emily were looking forward to having Saturday and Sunday off; Emily was going to sleep in, she said, until lunch time! Katie said that she was going to go to the Mirdif Mall and order lunch in a restaurant there – and be extra nice to the girl who served her. Both the girls were tired and because it was Friday, the Wafi Gourmet was particularly busy. Mummy had told them that they could have a half hour that night at the Dubai Mall to look at the Christmas decorations before she picked them up. The whole place looked simply wonderful with lots of fake snow giving the Mall a Christmas card feel. Even though most of the people in Dubai weren’t Christians, everyone seemed to love Christmas. The red and white costume and jolly, beared face of Father Christmas seemed to be everywhere.
Emily was busy serving a Saudi gentleman who was enjoying a scrumptious chicken salad for a late lunch; she was being extra polite and cheerful. She knew that gentlemen like this were happy to tip for good service. Katie, in the meantime, was serving a tall, slim lady wearing a burqua that covered her from head to foot. She had ordered a vanilla milk shake and there was something in her manner [even covered by the burqua] that made Katie think that this might be a sad person who needed a smile and a kind word. It was true. Even though Katie could only see her eyes, there was a sadness there that made Katie hurt inside. When she took the order to the kitchen, she asked Lufti to put extra ice cream in the drink. When it was finished and served in a tall iced glass, the vanilla milkshake looked magnificent. The straw even stood up in the glass because the milk shake was so thick.
“Here you are, Ma’am” said Katie kindly when she brought the milkshake to the lady’s table. “I hope you enjoy it. I asked the kitchen staff to put in extra ice cream. You look as if you might need something extra today.” When the lady put out her hand to take it, she said a very sincere thank you and looked straight at Katie. The lady had beautiful eyes and for a moment, there was a flash of happiness across her face. “My goodness,” thought Katie, “she’s simply beautiful. I wonder where she comes from and who she is.”
Katie had another surprise when the lady took the tall, icy glass from the tray. There on the fingers of this lady’s lovely manicured hand were three rings, each one of them carrying an enormous gemstone. There was a splendid green emerald in one ring, a dazzling ruby in another and the third ring carried the largest diamond Katie had ever seen. It caught the late afternoon sun and positively sparkled with brilliant white light. Katie couldn’t help but give a little gasp.
The beautiful and mysterious lady.
Of course she knew that some of the customers at the Wafi Gourmet were wealthy people. Most of them were ordinary folk but she knew that Dubai was a city where there were very rich and very poor people living close by one another. And this lady must be one of the richest. Katie wondered what fine clothes there might be under the black burqua. No doubt they would be just as expensive and as beautiful as the lady’s jewellery. All that Katie could see were blue jeans and fine gold sandals emerging from under the hem of the black cotton burqua.
Just at that moment a rather fat Arab gentleman came in and started demanding a big ice cream sundae to be served with double chocolate topping. Mariam greeted him like a Prince; Emily was busy at this moment collecting her tip [five dirhams!] from the Saudi gentleman with the chicken salad so Mariam called Katie over. Katie was on to this straight away and she quickly forgot about the milkshake, the beautiful jewels and the sad eyes of her customer. From time to time over the next half hour, Katie noticed the lady slowly drinking her milkshake, her hands holding the straw so elegantly to her lips. She watched the children playing near the fountain; every now and then, she would look at the Burj rising into the sky from the edge of the Mall. She looked for the figures of the window cleaners she had seen earlier in the week in their fluorescent yellow shirts. Sure enough, if you looked very carefully, you could just pick them out against the translucent blue glass.
The delicious vanilla milkshake Lufti made.
With the Arab gentleman settled with his sundae, it was time for Katie to check on the lovely lady in the burqua. She had finished; Katie took the bill over to her and waited while the lady paid for her snack. Katie had hoped that she would pay by credit card so that she could see the name on the card: surely someone with such beautiful jewels must be a princess – but the lady paid with cash and Katie brought her the change. Katie might have liked to linger but the gentleman who had ordered the sundae decided that he wanted a second one and Katie sped off to put the order into the kitchen. By the time she got back, the lady was already headed for the door, leaving the tall, empty milk shake glass behind her.
Katie swept up the glass and put it with other dirty dishes she had cleared away from the tables. As she moved the glass on the tray to make way for more dirty things, however, she heard the finest, faintest tinkle – like a clear, tiny bell. That was strange. She thought for a terrible moment that there might be a piece of broken glass in the milk shake glass; she shook it very carefully this time and sure enough, there was a solid tinkle.
Katie couldn’t see what was making the tiny noise. In the bottom of the glass, there was a mix of vanilla, bubbly milk and ice cream. No matter how you tried, of course, you couldn’t get the very last of the milk shake up the straw. That’s where the tinkle was coming from. And when Katie slid her hand into the bottom of the glass, she found something about the size of a marble.
The diamond Katie found in the milk shake
Even covered in melted ice cream, Katie knew what it was once it was in her hand – although she couldn’t believe it. She was holding a beautiful diamond, cut and faceted to return and flicker the light. Katie had seen it, of course, in the lady’s ring. It must have fallen into the milkshake without the lady’s noticing it.
Katie ran to the door of the Wafi Gourmet and looked frantically to right and left. There were several ladies in burquas walking away in the distance. Which one to chase? She quickly discounted a large lady with a limp. There were two younger ladies but which one to chase? The gold sandals! So hard to see from this distance! In the end, Katie made a split second decision and ran as fast as she could after the figure which had turned left and gone through the mall towards the entrance to the Burj itself.
There she was ahead, waiting for the lift to the apartments at the top of the Burj. Daddy had told her that there was a hotel in the Burj and also apartments for very wealthy people to live in. If Katie could just reach this lady, she would be able to return the priceless diamond that felt hot and sticky in her hand as she ran. There was a tall black gentleman in an impressive uniform stationed at the lift to greet people travelling up into the Burj; perhaps he could hold the lift for her.
But no! The lift was arriving and people were leaving; three people, including the lady in the burqua were heading into the lift. Katie made an enormous effort and lunged for the lift. The black doorman was alarmed and grabbed at her; Katie wriggled and escaped from his clutches and rolled into the lift just as the door closed and the lift took off at speed, heading for the one hundred and forty-ninth floor.
Katie wasn’t very dignified, I’m afraid, sprawled on the floor of the lift while the other passengers looked at her with concern. Down below her she could already hear the alarm going off. Perhaps the black doorman thought that she was a dangerous robber setting off to attack people who lived in the tower. A kindly looking Arab gentleman reached down and lifted her up. His friend who was with him gave her a wary smile.
“If you are a robber, Miss, I have to warn you that the alarm means that the security staff will be here any minute!” He grinned at Katie: “You don’t look like a robber, but you never can tell these days, I suppose. You actually look like a waitress at the Wafi Gourmet!”
“Please, Sir,” said Katie shyly. “I do work at the Wafi Gourmet – and I’m not a robber. I chased the lift because I have something for the lady here.”
And here Katie made a little curtsy and held out her hand to the lady in the burqua. The milky diamond, sticky and smeared with ice cream, was in Katie’s palm and when she saw it, the lady gasped and felt for the ring on her hand.
Just at that moment, before Katie or the lady could explain to the startled men what the treasure was that she was carrying, the door to the lift opened at the one hundred and forty-ninth floor. The lady in the burqua looked pleased and excited and frightened all at once. “My ring,” she said hesitantly to the Arab gentlemen. “Will you please excuse us?” The Arab gentlemen looked curious but left for their own apartment. And then the doors were closing and the lady and Katie were on their way up to her apartment ten storeys higher – almost at the very top of the tower.
The next ten minutes were very exciting and if Katie hadn’t been the centre of attention I think she might have enjoyed them too. Katie and the lady hesitated for a moment at the door while the lady found her key. Before they could enter, however, the lift opened again and the black doorman and three security men came out with guns drawn. The next lift brought Mariam and Emily; the story they had been told was that a dangerous waitress from the Wafi Gourmet was on the loose in the Burj Khalifa. Mariam was very anxious, particularly when she saw the guns and the angry faces of the security men. Emily was alarmed too; Katie hadn’t waited to tell her why she had run out into the Mall in such a dramatic way.
It took just a little while for everyone to calm down. Even the security men [three anxious looking young men from India wearing turbans] could see that Katie didn’t look very dangerous. The lady in the burqua thanked them kindly for their interest in her. She gave the black doorman a ten dirham note for coming to her rescue but showed by her calm manner and silvery laugh that no one was in any danger. When the security staff had finally gone and the noisy alarm had been turned off, Katie, Emily, Mariam and the lady in the burqua were left outside the lift looking just a little awkward. It was, the lady said, probably time for everyone to have a cup of tea. With her security key, she opened the door and invited everyone into her apartment. And that was the start of one of the most exciting adventures the girls had ever had!
The window cleaners at the Burj.
Chapter 3: The View from the Burj
Once the door was closed, the lady in the burqua quickly lifted it away and handed it to a servant who had appeared. The servant was a dark skinned maid from Sri Lanka not much older than Katie. With the burqua off, it was possible to see immediately how young and pretty this mysterious was. But also, as Emily said afterwards, you could also tell how sad she was too. Katie thought straight away, “Now I know that she’s a princess!”
It was true. The lady introduced herself as Princess Saabira from Jordan. Mariam immediately gave a little curtsey and the girls stood up straight. [It’s the sort of thing you should do when you meet a princess.] But Saabira simply reached out and touched Mariam’s hand gently and smiled so graciously at the girls that you could tell that she was the kindest, gentlest princess you were ever likely to meet.
Her first thought was for the comfort of her guests. Princess Saabira handed the milky diamond to the maid, whom she called Chandrika, and asked her to wash it. And would the girls like to share a cup of tea with her?
Mariam was a little embarrassed. The girls were wearing their Wafi Gourmet uniforms and Mariam herself [even though well dressed for work] might not be well dressed enough to have tea with a princess. Princess Saabira only laughed. “Could the restaurant survive for ten minutes without its manager and two of its best waitresses?” she asked gently.
Of course it could and Saabira lead the three friends over to the big leather lounge chairs and the coffee table facing the full wall of windows. If Katie and Emily had hesitated for a moment in accepting Saabira’s invitation, they quickly forgot that when they saw the view from the window. The city below them was magnificent. Right below them was the Mall and the fountains and the beautiful shops of the Gold Souk. They could see the harbour and the airport and just at that moment an Emirates jet rose into the air and banked over the water as it headed for Australia. The girls stood enthralled and only looked up when Chandrika appeared with a big tea pot on a tray and beautiful china cups.
Beautiful Princess Saabira after she took off her Burqua.
The girls tried to remember all that their mother and grandmothers had told them about good manners – and really, you know, they did very well. [Mariam told them as they went down in the lift that they were very good girls!] The tea was delicious and Chandrika had brought some little cakes that were scrumptious. While they ate their cakes and drank their tea, Saabira asked them all about their homes and families – and very shyly told the girls about her own home.
It was a sad story she told. Princess Saabira came from the royal family in Jordan. She had gone to school in Paris and was studying at university in England but her dear father had recently died and her uncle, the Crown Prince, wanted Saabira to come back from university to be married to a cousin of the Emir in Dubai. The royal family in Jordan was old and noble but the Dubai royal family was rich. It was important for Saabira to marry someone wealthy if she were to continue to live like a princess. Her future husband, Prince Hassan, was – she had been told - a strong, brave young man in the United Arab Emirates air force – but Saabira had only ever seen his photograph. He was in the United States learning to fly fighter jets. They were to be married after Christmas; they would meet just before the wedding day. He would be home in a few days. Once they were married, they would go to live in a palace in the Emir’s compound. In the meantime, an aunt had given her this apartment as a present – it was the second best apartment in the whole Burj. The only bigger and better unit was the one right above it – and it was owned by a Saudi Prince whom no one ever saw. And above that apartment on the one hundredth and fifty-first floor was the radio tower that climbed even higher into the sky.
Prince Hassan with his helicopter: he wanted to marry Princess Saabira.
“Don’t you want to marry Prince Hassan?” asked Emily. Mariam was quick to interrupt: such a question – even though they all wanted to hear the answer – was really very difficult to ask.
“I know my uncle would not choose someone for me to marry who wouldn’t make me happy,” said Saabira at last. “At least, I hope he wouldn’t.”
At that moment, Chandrika returned to the group with the diamond all clean and arranged on a velvet cushion. Princess Saabira picked it up and looked at it closely. “Prince Hassan gave me this beautiful gift,” she said. “He really is a kind and generous man. If I had lost it, I don’t know what I could have told him. Thank you, Katie, for finding it and returning it to me. How can I ever repay you?”
Katie didn’t know what to say. She was liking Princess Saabira very much; she found the story of her engagement to Prince Hassan sad but very interesting. It was so romantic – like something in a story.
Emily cut in quickly, “It would be hard to repay Katie, Your Royal Highness, but an Arab gentleman gave me five dirhams when he liked the chicken salad I brought him!”
Princess Saabira laughed at this – although Mariam was a tiny bit worried that perhaps she wouldn’t see the joke. “Katie, I think that a million dollar diamond must be worth a much bigger tip than the one your Arab gentleman has given to Emily – no matter how good the chicken salad is. I think I will need to find my cheque book; I won’t have enough money in my purse.”
Now Katie knew just what to say. “Please, Your Royal Highness, I don’t need anything at all. I was so pleased to be able to do something kind for someone like you. Just have a merry Christmas!”
Before the girls and Mariam left, Princess Saabira gave them all a hug. She told them that one day – and she hoped it would be soon – she would try to do something especially kind for Katie and Emily. Would they come back to visit her in her apartment? She really had no friends in Dubai who came to see her. The girls promised Princess Saabira that they would indeed come back if there were ever a quiet moment in the restaurant. Princess Saabira promised that she would call in every afternoon for a milk shake –but that perhaps she would leave her biggest jewels at home on those afternoons. They left as good friends and once they were in the lift, Mariam was quick to tell the girls how pleased she was with them. True, if Katie had asked for it, Princess Saabira might have given her a beautiful present in thanks for her honesty in returning the diamond – but being owed a big favour by a royal princess, well - that was as good as it could get in Dubai. Indeed, when the girls arrived home that night and had had their dinner and crashed in front of the television, there was a brisk knock at the front door. Imagine how surprised Mummy was to find a Rolls Royce parked outside and a black servant in uniform holding a big arrangement of lovely yellow roses. The card read “To Katie and Emily, the most honest girls in the Emirates.”
Remembering her manners, Katie sat down that night and wrote a very simple card to the Princess saying thank you for the lovely flowers. She didn’t have much of an address so she put on the envelope:
Her Royal Highness Princess Saabira, Floor149, the Burj Khalifa.
Katie hoped that the princess would receive it. After all, there can’t have been many princesses living in the Burj.
Chapter 4: Christmas Comes to the Dubai Mall
The next day, of course, was a holiday for the girls. When they went back to work on Sunday they were really excited. It was only four days until Christmas. That was exciting in itself but even more interesting was whether Princess Saabira would come in for a milkshake as promised.
You can imagine how pleased the girls were when she did. She was wearing her burqua but even so, there was no mistaking those lovely eyes. Lufti and Fazil [who had heard the story about the million dollar milk shake] now made the thickest most scrumptious milk shake you could imagine and insisted on coming out of the kitchen to see Emily deliver it to the Princess’s table. Katie went to the table too, gave a little curtsey, and thanked Princess Saabira for the flowers. Then, because the restaurant was so busy, the girls had to go to other customers. And no, there were no quiet times in the day when the girls could get away to visit. Everyone seemed to be at the Mall doing their Christmas shopping.
Something happened late that afternoon that I must tell you about now because it became important later in the story. The afternoon rush was over and now most people only wanted a cup of coffee or a snack before dinner. A very large American lady, however, had come in and ordered a chocolate milk shake and a double steak sandwich with potato chips. [She called them “fries” but Emily knew what she wanted.] She took a chair at a table near the counter so she could look at all the cakes on display and she insisted on Katie bringing her a very big slice of cheesecake while she waited for Lufti and Fazil to make her sandwich. Can you imagine what happened? The greedy lady ate the cheesecake and drank the milkshake but could only nibble at a few of the potato chips before she was completely full up. Katie eventually took away the plate of food and the large lady waddled out after paying her bill and leaving a tip as small as the lady’s butt was large.
Katie took the full plate of food back to the kitchen. All that wasted food! It seemed a terrible thing to throw food like that away and when Mariam saw the luscious steak sandwich and the chips she suggested that the girls have a break and eat it themselves. There was a little table outside the back door in the shade where Mr Wasir would sometimes sit during his break and have a smoke. The girls were just about to begin eating when they were conscious of two pairs of eyes looking intently at them from behind the garbage bins.
The eyes belonged to two thin faces and the faces belonged to two skinny black boys wearing ragged pants and shirts with bright yellow fluorescent jackets. The girls knew at once that these must be workers from Pakistan or Bangladesh who came to work in Dubai. How old were the boys? It was hard to tell; they were neither of them any bigger than Katie but one of them had a whiskery chin and so he must have been about fifteen years old perhaps. And they both looked so hungry.
Javid and Nasin – the hungry Pakistani boys.
Emily had been so looking forward to the steak sandwich – she had worked right through her lunch break – but when she saw those sad, hungry eyes, she couldn’t take a bite. Katie felt the same. She stood and made a little bow as if she were talking to the grandest customer and said. “Would you like to share my sandwich?”
The boys were very shy and it was only when Katie found a knife and cut the sandwich into four pieces that the two boys came to the table to join them. The boys took their share of the sandwich but Katie and Emily concentrated on the chips so that the boys could eat their share of the sandwich without any kind o fuss. While they ate, they told the girls just a little about themselves.
Their names were Javid and Nasin and yes, they were from Pakistan. Their mother was a widow and their uncle had offered to take them from their poor village near Karachi to Dubai to find good jobs. Uncle Yosef worked as a cleaner in the Burj; he shared his single room in the basement with his nephews. They worked [as you might have guessed from their fluorescent yellow jackets] as window cleaners at the Burj. The Egyptian man who supervised the cleaning liked small boys to do this job because it was dangerous work and he could frighten small boys with his stick if they were afraid.
“How do you not fall?” asked Katie. “I have seen you hanging with your bucket from the side of the tower – but it looks scary to me!” She was thinking how frightened she felt when she had gone to the edge of the viewing platform high on the Burj to look out.
Nasin stopped eating for a moment and said, “We wear a belt with a rope tied to the belt. Our Master lowers us from one of the windows and then drags us back up when we have finished.”
“Have you ever fallen?” asked Emily. She was looking at Javid’s skinny body and she was sure she could see bruises on his arms and shoulders. “Are those marks where you fell?”
“I don’t think that you would live if you fell,” said Javid, sadly. Emily was suddenly sorry that she had mentioned the marks on the boy’s body. “Those marks are where my master beats me if I spill all my water or don’t clean well enough. We have lots of windows to wash and we must hurry. But if you hurry, you can spill your soapy water.”
Katie noticed that Nasin was embarrassed and she gently pushed the last two halves of the sandwich to the boys. “Does your master not pay you for what you do?”
“Yes he does pay us,” said Javid, “but it is not much, and we try to send our money back to our poor mother in Pakistan. We have a sister, too, named Yasmine, and they have no work to do. Yasmine is old enough to be married now but because we are so poor, no one will even look at her, even though she is very beautiful. They live on what we can send to them –even though it isn’t very much.
“Where do you live?” asked Emily.
“Deep underground in the Burj there are garages where the people who live in the apartments keep their cars. There is a big cupboard down there where we keep our ropes and brushes and jackets and sunglasses. My uncle found a piece of carpet which we can unroll at night to sleep on. It’s fine for two boys like us.”
The boys talked and talked. They talked about their hard life, the birds who came to see what they were doing up in the sky and the nasty temper of their master. But mostly they talked about their poor mother: how good she was and how hard she worked. And they also talked about their sister, Yasmine: how pretty she was and how much she loved her brothers. By the time they had finished, the steak sandwich and chips were all gone and the boys were looking anxious. “We have to go,” said Nasin. “We only have a little break in the afternoon before we have to start work again.” The girls watched the boys head back to the Burj. They waved as they headed for the lifts. Sure enough, in just a little while the girls saw Javid and Nasin about half way up the tower in their bright yellow jackets. They were hard at work in the late afternoon sun.
After that meeting, Katie and Emily quietly made sure that they always looked out for left over treats for Javid and Nasin. Ghafoor and Munawar always had first pick of the leftover food from the big cooking pots; Katie and Emily only asked for things that the customers didn’t eat on their plates. The girls soon became quite aware of how much food people wasted every day. Of course they asked Mariam if they could have some of the food that might only be thrown away; in her kindness, she was happy for the girls to help others. Indeed, even though the restaurant staff were careful with the food they served, there was still a lot of waste. Both the girls now felt that it was terrible to waste food when some poor people in the city were always hungry.
Christmas was Coming to the Dubai Mall!
Sometimes the wasted food couldn’t be given away because it had been left out too long or spread too much around the plate so that it didn’t look nice at all but every day there was something to share. People often left their bread rolls behind on the plate; Katie always collected then in a paper bag. One day Mr Wasir kindly scraped the bottom of the big pot in which the chicken curry had been made; there wasn’t enough to serve a customer but it made a really good serve for a hungry boy. Another day a greedy tourist had ordered two serves of fried fish and hadn’t been able to eat half of it. Emily carefully slipped the fish and salad into a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator in the kitchen. In another container there was a big slice of cheesecake which an American lady had ordered with extra cream – and then only eaten the cream and strawberries. Late in the afternoon when the restaurant was much less busy, the two little boys would come to the back door and wait patiently for the girls to find a minute to come out and share their food with them. The girls noticed that the boys often took away some of the nicest of the leftovers for their uncle. It became part of the girls’ routine.
They always had a cup of tea about this time; Mariam said that they needed a break before the evening rush began and she sometimes joined them. She grew to love Javid and Nasin as much as the girls did
As the boys ate what the girls had been able to find for them, they would talk about all the things they had seen in the Burj while they were cleaning windows. There were very grand Arab gentlemen who padded around their bedrooms in their knicker pants. “They don’t look half so grand when they’re dressed like that!” said Javid. Nasin told them that there were posh Western ladies who only came to the Mall to shop if they were wearing lots of makeup; they looked much older and uglier when they sat reading the newspaper and having a quiet smoke before they put on their war paint. The boys had sometimes heard respectable people shouting and using terrible language and some of them were doing things that might be shameful if repeated to anyone. Javid and Nasin were sometimes quite shocked by what they saw but their uncle had told them that they must always show respect and never talk to anyone about what they had seen in their jobs.
“We know a lovely princess who lives in the Burj,” said Katie. She was frightened that the boys might have seen something in Princess Saabira’s apartment. Surely there was nothing that you could accuse her of, Katie thought.
“Do you mean Her Royal Highness, Princess Saabira from Jordan?” Javid asked? “If you do, she is the most kind and gentle lady in the world!” he said.
“And the most beautiful!” said Nasin. “She is always so kind to us. She gives us a glass of milk when we clean her windows and better still, she gave us each a pair of sunglasses to use while we are doing our work. It has made it so much easier working outside all the time.”
It was just what the girls had hoped to hear about their lovely friend.
“She’s so much nicer and kinder than Emir Faisal who has the big apartment above the Princess,” said Nasin. “Why, only last week I saw him ..” Here, Javid looked hurt and shook his head at Nasin as if to warn him. Katie would have liked to ask more about Emir Faisal but their break time was up and there were customers to serve.
Everyone was getting ready for Christmas!
Late that afternoon after the girls had finished work they called on the Princess. She was looking hopeful but a little frighted as well. You see, Prince Hassan was coming home from America the next day. A week after that would come the wedding she had been so anxious about. The girls listened carefully and did their best to encourage the Princess. Katie was certain that a beautiful princess like Princess Saabira would win the love of any man. Emily thought that if a handsome and rich Prince were wanting to marry her that she would be very happy to have him – even if she hadn’t met him before the wedding. Perhaps Prince Hassan had a younger brother? Princess Saabira even allowed the girls to sneak down the hall and peek into a bedroom at the end of the corridor. There, hanging on a big wooden hanger, was a glorious silk wedding dress. The girls thought that it was without doubt the most beautiful dress they had ever seen in their lives. “One day,” thought Katie, “I’ll wear a wedding dress like that.”
Finally it was Christmas Eve. The girls were really excited; they loved Christmas and even though they had to work at the Wafi Gourmet right up to 6 pm, they were going home to put up their Christmas tree and get ready for the big day. They made sure that there were some real treats saved for Javid and Nasin – a whole chicken, a plum pudding and most of a jar of strawberry jam -enough for dinner for two days– and something special for their poor uncle as well. The girls spent a little of their wages, too, on new tee shirts for each of the boys. Katie had also bought a lovely soft bath towel for the boy’s widowed mother. Emily bought a cool tracksuit for their sister. They would be wonderful things to send home to the boys’ family in Pakistan. They gave all of this to the boys just before they left that afternoon to go home and were delighted to see their smiling faces. The poor boys, however, had to work all through Christmas; they didn’t have a special holiday at all. The girls also bought a little present for Chandrika – Princess Saabira’s maid. It was a beautiful woollen pashmina they had seen in the souk. They carefully wrapped it with a card and delivered it to the large black doorman at the Burj – the same gentleman who had chased Katie to the lift that first day of the million dollar milk shake. He had become a great friend of the girls since then and always lifted his hat to them in a grand way when they went to visit the princess.
Once the girls had put up the Christmas tree, Mummy made them a drink of cocoa and found them some special ice cream. The whole family sat and looked at the lights of the Christmas tree with real hope. It was a cool night with a fog rolling in from the Arabian Sea. They were a long way from their family in Australia but they had another family here in Dubai and they knew that all around them there was love and care and kindness. The girls had never gone to bed on Christmas Eve feeling so tired – or feeling so grown up. When they said their prayers that night, they made sure that they remembered everyone at the restaurant – as well as Javid and Nasin and Princess Saabira. They fell asleep thinking of the wonderful white wedding dress that the Princess had shown them – and the happy wedding coming up in just a few days time.
Chapter 5: The Mystery on the top of the Burj Khalifa
For the very first time in their lives, the girls slept in on Christmas morning – well, just a little. Daddy said afterwards that it was a sign that the girls really were growing up. Emily was up first, however; after all, Christmas morning was one of the most exciting times in the whole year. She crept downstairs to look under the Christmas tree. Emily had been hoping for some new computer games, an iPod and perhaps even some snazzy fashions. Emily needed a new pair of jeans too and she hoped that perhaps the jeans might come with a matching denim jacket like the Bratz girls wore. Emily knew that she had been a good girl. Father Christmas would certainly have left her some lovely presents this year.
When Katie came down the steps in a few moments, she found her little sister sitting under the tree. The lights were twinkling as they had done when the girls went to bed but there was nothing under the tree: no presents at all! There was nothing for Mummy and Daddy and nothing at all for either of the girls. Emily was quietly crying. Katie put her arm around her to comfort and encourage her. How could this be? The girls had never had nothing for Christmas before – and they were, really, very good girls.
Dad and Mum came down for breakfast a little later, expecting to find the girls enjoying their presents and the floor all covered with torn off wrapping paper. The girls were still very sad but they were less concerned now. You see, Destiny had knocked gently on the back door looking sad and forlorn. There was nothing under her Christmas tree either. And everyone knew that Destiny was a good girl. What could have happened? Katie had decided that without any presents under the tree, she would make Christmas special with a nice breakfast for her Mum and Dad. She was just pouring the tea when they walked in.
Daddy gave the girls a big cuddle; Mummy was simply bewildered. What could this mean? Trying to be cheerful, they all sat down at the table to enjoy the scrumptious marmalade toast that Katie had made for everyone. It’s amazing how much better you feel after a cup of tea and a piece of toast. Even without presents, it could be a lovely morning. Once he had finished Katie’s excellent breakfast, Daddy suggested that the girls come for a walk with him to get the newspaper from Caribou up in the Mirdif shopping centre.
The girls were happy to go with Dad while Mummy cleared away the breakfast things. As they walked up to the gate, they talked about the mystery of the missing presents. It was something that was very puzzling indeed.
Once they reached Caribou, the girls were happy to sit on the lovely arm chairs and feel grown up while Dad chose his news paper. Suddenly he called the girls over, looking anxious. There was a photograph of Father Christmas on all of the Arab language papers but Daddy couldn’t read those. Whatever had happened was certainly front page news! Just as he was looking at the headlines in their beautiful Arab script, the delivery van arrived with the English language papers and the headline on The Nation – the English language paper- told the whole story:
Father Christmas Missing in Action.
“It’s a mystery,” says Dubai Police Chief.
A recent photograph of the missing Father Christmas.
Daddy read the girls the whole story. Other people in the cafe crowded around to listen:
Father Christmas Missing in Action.
Well known celebrity Father Christmas has disappeared half way through his annual trip around the world giving presents to good boys and girls.
Boys and girls in New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Papua New Guinea and India awoke this morning to find that the jolly gentleman had left presents for all good boys and girls. Boys and girls in Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Europe and Canada have missed out.
Dubai Police Chief, Sheik Rattlen-Roll, said that there were areas in the south and east of the city where boys and girls received their presents. “Children in the north and west of the city have missed out completely,” he said.
“At the moment, there is nothing to suggest foul play,” said the police chief. “It may be that Father Christmas simply ran out of presents early and went back to the North Pole for an early sleep.” Sheik Rattlen-Roll said that there was an unconfirmed report of Father Christmas stopping for a hamburger and fries at an all night McDonald’s Drive through restaurant on the corniche in Abu Dhabi.
Police are also investigating a late night disturbance at the Burj Khalifa. The Burj is the home of some wealthy and noble families and police are anxious to protect these distinguished people.
“Well, that’s a relief of sorts,” said Emily. “I was beginning to think that perhaps I didn’t get any presents because I really was naughty.
“You do leave your undies on the floor, Emily,” said Daddy, “But then you’ve always done that – and Father Christmas has always forgiven you that one in the past.”
“I don’t believe that Father Christmas would run out of presents and simply go home once his sacks were empty,” said Katie. “Whoever wrote that obviously doesn’t know the first thing about Father Christmas. He’d never do such a mean thing to little children.”
When the girls and Daddy got back home, Mummy was watching the television – and the story was all over the news. There were pictures of happy boys and girls in Australia and New Zealand with dolls and bicycles and toy trains and sad coverage of forlorn looking boys and girls in Jordan and England with empty Christmas trees. The most puzzling part of the story, of course, was that the delivery of presents seemed to have stopped so abruptly somewhere in Dubai. A grim looking Emir of Dubai was shown looking at an empty Christmas tree. Because Father Christmas had disappeared in Dubai, there were urgent questions being asked about Dubai all over the world; the Emirates were shamed in international circles. Apparently there were going to be questions raised in the Security Council of the United Nations! The Emir gravely assured the world that Dubai would do everything it could to find Father Christmas.
While Mummy made Christmas dinner, the girls were busy in their own rooms. If Father Christmas had missed them out, they would have to deliver their own presents. Emily knew that Katie needed a new handbag because she had broken her good one when she had her accident at Sega World in the Mall. Emily had two handbags and so she found the one that she liked best and decided to give it as a present to her big sister. She found some wrapping paper and made a lovely parcel of the handbag. Then she made a card with angels and Christmas trees on it; it looked super. Katie decided that the nicest present she could give Emily was a story. She’d been working on a great story about lost fairy gold and a wicked old witch who is tricked by a kind girl into sharing her gold with the poor pixies. Katie finished the story, made a cover for the book and wrapped it up. The girls shyly gave their sisters their presents and do you know, I don’t think that Emily would have traded her story for any quantity of iPods and snazzy clothes. In some ways it was the best Christmas the girls had ever had. They went to bed tired but happy.
Late at night, Katie and Emily were awakened from a deep sleep by someone tapping on their window. They were both asleep and might not have been woken at all but Emmy had been cold and got up to find another blanket. She was just falling asleep when she heard a voice quietly calling her name. You can imagine how astonished she was to find Javid at the window. He was hanging from the top of the house by a nylon rope and he was dressed just as he would be if he were washing windows at the Burj Khalifa. And Nasin was on another rope knocking on Katie’s window. The whole street was quiet with almost no lights on in the houses nearby. The girls hurried downstairs and let the little boys into the door in the kitchen. They looked absolutely exhausted.
Katie sensibly put the tea kettle on while Emily looked in the refrigerator for something for the boys to eat. She found some of the leftover turkey from the Christmas dinner and cut each of the boys a nice sandwich. Emily cleared away Daddy’s newspaper and they all sat down at the dining room table. With tea and sandwich to revive them, the boys could relax and tell their story.
“We have walked all the way from the Burj,” said Nasin proudly, “because we have a very important job to do!”
“Yes, I know what you are thinking: what important job could two little boys like us be doing late at night?” said Javid. “But the man told us to come to find you. He gave us your address and said that if anyone could help, you could.”
“We’ll help, I ‘m sure, if we can,” said Katie, “but who is this man who sent you to us? Was it Mr Wasir from the Wafi Gourmet?” Mr Wasir was the only man she knew at the Burj. She knew Mariam and Princess Saabira, of course, but Javid had said that they were sent by a man.
“No! No! Let me tell you what we have been seeing today,” said Nasin. “Today is Wednesday and every Wednesday we are washing the windows right at the top of the Burj. It’s the most frightening place to work because it can be hot and scary – and it is such a long way for a little boy to be falling if something happens to the rope.”
Javid interrupted, “At first we are cleaning the windows of the beautiful Princess, your friend. She gave us a big drink of milk for cleaning her windows. But then we had to clean the windows in the big apartment above her – the one belonging to Emir Faisal.”
“We have told you he is a mean man,” said Nasin. “He beat me once when I spilled my water on his verandah. Princess Saabira gives us milk to drink but Emir Faisal would never give you anything except a beating. Well, this afternoon when we came to clean his windows, we found the most amazing thing. Emir Faisal is keeping a poor old man a prisoner in his apartment!”
“And what’s more,” said Javid, “I think he is keeping some animals in his garage in the basement of the Burj. Today I am hearing the sad cry of some animals coming from his garage near our cupboard. It does not sound like cows – I am hearing cows at home in Pakistan – and these are not cows.”
“But hurry, we have to be going now,” said Nasin, standing up and getting ready to go. It’s a long walk back to the Burj and the old man will be waiting. He told us to go to get you. He says he doesn’t know anyone else in Dubai who could help him as much as you girls.”
“What does this old man look like?” asked Katie. She only really knew one old man –and that was Old Grandad, and he was far away in Australia probably having a snooze right now.
“Why that’s the old man right there!” said Nasin, pointing to the front page of The Nation. “He looks kinder when you see him face to face, but that’s him all right. And wicked Emir Faisal has him tied up in his apartment.”
The old man on the front page of the newspaper, of course, was Father Christmas.
Chapter 6: High Drama at the Burj Khalifa
The little boys were clearly ready to walk all the way back to the Burj; even though you could see it from most places in Dubai it was still a very long way there. Katie wanted to wake Daddy up: he would certainly drive them all, she was sure, if it meant rescuing Father Christmas. Javid and Nasin were determined, however. Father Christmas had told them that the only people they were to tell were the girls themselves. It was going to be a long night, Katie thought.
Now Emily did something that took a great deal of courage on her part: she revealed a secret that she had kept to herself for almost a year. Emily had a secret stash of money. It was, she explained, her running away money. This all started when Emily had gone with her friend, Grace, to a birthday party at the Atlantis water park. There had been a special bikini girl’s competition and Emily had won second prize – ten dirhams! Emily decided at that moment that she would keep her winnings a secret. One day, she thought, she might need some money to run away.
Emily never did settle on where she would run, of course, [Dubai is surrounded by desert, after all]. But whenever people were bossy or she was tired and cranky, Emily would comfort herself with the thought that one day she would take all the money she had saved and run away. Then people would miss her and everyone would be nice to her! Since that prize in the beauty competition, Emily had saved almost seventy dirhams. It came in tiny amounts saved from her lunch money, from birthday presents and from selling things occasionally to Kate. Emily kept the money in a toffee tin in her undies drawer. This wasn’t exactly running away but it was an emergency and in just five minutes, the girls had taken Javid and Nasim to the gate of their housing estate in Mirdif and found a taxicab headed for the city. Emily promised the kind young Somali driver that she would give him a tip if he were quick.
What an exciting night that was – and the drive through the silent, sleeping city was only the start! Once they reached the Burj [and Emily handed over every cent of her running away money to pay the driver] the boys took the girls to the elevators that served the mighty tower. With a little stab of pain, Emily realised as soon as the lift took off that she had left the empty toffee tin that had contained her running away money in the taxi. There was no money in it anyway but while she had had it, it was a comfort.
The old toffee tin where Emily kept her running away money.
The lift sank into the depths of the Burj. This was a side of the glorious blue tower that visitors never saw: the elevators used by the army of servants and tradesmen who served the wealthy people in the tower apartments and hotel. The lifts for the guests at the Burj were made of marble and glass; these lifts were dark and shabby – even though the tower was almost new.
The four friends went first to the basement – to the cupboard where Javid and Nasim slept and kept their buckets and rags. Katie and Emily couldn’t imagine how hard a life the boys had in this sad little cubby hole but Javid proudly showed Katie his tooth brush, the roll of carpet on the floor and a couple of old grey blankets neatly folded on the end of the mat. This was their home. On the concrete wall was a photograph of his mother and sister, Yasmine, standing beside a village hut in Pakistan. While they were doing this, Nasim found a flashlight, some coils of rope and four jackets made of bright, fluorescent colours. To get to the apartment where Father Christmas was being held prisoner, the girls were going to have to learn to be window washers.
Javid lead the girls across the broad area of the basement into the carpark and to a locked garage. “This is the Emir’s car park,” he said. Sure enough there were some strange shuffling noises coming from behind the roller door – and a peculiar, animal smell.
“Can you get in to see what it is?” asked Emily.
“If I had a key I could get in,” said Javid. “Of course no one is giving a key to poor boys like us.”
It was a mystery but the boys were keen to get going. They were all feeling excited but frightened as they took the lift back up to the one hundred and fifty-second floor. One level below them was the last apartment where the boys believed that Father Christmas was being held a prisoner; it was, the boys insisted, like a palace in the sky and it took up the whole floor. The girls and boys emerged from the lift and opened the door on to a platform where the radio tower rose above them. Below them was the whole city spread out like beautiful, sparkling lace. Katie and Emily looked carefully over the side. It took your breath away! They were so high that they felt light headed and giddy. And to reach the apartment where Father Christmas was being held prisoner, the girls were going to have to climb over the rail and shinny down on ropes. I think it was only at that moment that the girls realised how brave they would have to be.
Nasin lead them to the southern side of the tower platform. “The window to the toilet in the apartment is just below us,” he said. “That’s where I found the old gentleman: he is locked inside the toilet. There is a tiny window that is open but it isn’t wide enough for me to creep through – and if it were, I’d only be locked in the toilet with Father Christmas. Neither of us could get out.”
“Isn’t there another window we could get in through?” asked Katie. All that she could see below here were big sheets of clear glass. It was like a cliff face.
“There is another tiny window on the bathroom next to the toilet,” said Javid. “It’s not big enough for me to get in – but perhaps Emily could. She’s pretty skinny.”
It was true. Emily had sometimes wished that she weren’t so slim and long; she was sometimes scared at the swimming pool that her togs would come off when she dived in. Tonight, instead of this being a problem, it just might be a help.
“But even if Emily could get inside, how would that help?” asked Nasin.
Now here you have to remember that neither Nasin nor Javid knew very much about Father Christmas. The girls had met him the year before, of course, when his sleigh had crashed into a sand dune at Bab al Shams and if it hadn’t been for the girls and three brave camel jockeys I don’t think anyone would have had presents that year either. Katie and Emily had seen then the magic that Father Christmas could work if only he were free to move about. Locked in a tiny toilet he couldn’t do much at all. If only Emily could get in and open the toilet door and set Father Christmas free, he could take over then and rescue himself. But getting into the bathroom window meant climbing over the side of the tallest building in the world.
“Okay,” said Katie, “Here’s the plan. Nasin, do you know the exact spot that Emily can find the window? Can you lower her on the rope over the side – and haul her back if the window is too small?”
“I think I can be doing that, Katie. But won’t you and Javid be there with me?”
“We have to be Plan B,” said Katie. “If the wicked Emir catches Emily, we’re going to need lots more help than you or I can give. While you’re lowering Emily over the side, Javid and I will be knocking on the door of Princess Saabira’s apartment on the next floor down. She’s a Princess – she’ll know what to do.”
“And she might have a key to the garage,” said Emily. “I’ll bet that the Emir has locked up the sleigh and reindeer down there. Father Christmas won’t be able to finish delivering his presents without them.”
Katie and Emily had had many adventures before but I don’t think either of them had ever done anything so brave as Emily when she tied the rope tightly on to the belt of the fluorescent jacket and went to climb over the rail of the radio tower platform. Before she did this, Katie and Emily hugged each other and if there was a moment when either girl felt really frightened that was it.
“This is the only time I’ve ever been pleased I wear glasses,” said Emily. “If I take off the glasses, I can’t see how far down it is!”
The plan was really simple. Emily would try to get in the bathroom window. Then she could open the toilet door and free Father Christmas. If they could get out the door and flee, they would all meet at Princess Saabira’s apartment. Nasin would do what he could once Emily was in the window; if she could open the bathroom window further, Nasin would follow her over the rail and down the side of the tower. It seemed easy to say all these things but if anything went wrong, any one of them could end up falling to the ground from the top of the Burj!
Katie watched to make sure that the rope was tied securely to the platform rail and to the belt of Emily’s jacket. If the very worst thing happened, Emily said, and she did fall, the rope would save her – even if it left her dangling high above the city. Of course that was only true if the rope were strong, and Nasin’s knots were good ones and... and ... Well, it was too terrible to think about. That night she had already lost all her running away money. She was determined she wasn’t going to fall off the tower as well. With a little prayer and a big deep breath, Emily put her leg over the rail and leaned back a little. Nasin held the rope and gently lowered her down towards the tiny window so far below.
Katie and Javid had the easier time, I think – but only for the first few moments. They had to use the elevator down to the princess’s floor but as soon as they came out into the servants’ area, they found that the door was securely locked. This was to stop robbers doing exactly what Katie and Javid were doing now – using the servants’ lift to bypass the security guards and get into the apartments where the rich people lived. While they fretted and worried about how they could get through this door, all Katie could think of was Emily hanging over the edge of the tower rail – or worse still, being caught by the wicked Emir and locked up with Father Christmas.
There was one tiny, locked window in the lobby where the lift opened in front of Princess Saabira’s apartment. Perhaps they could get in there?
Javid bent down and Katie clambered on to his back so she was high enough to reach the window. No luck. The window was small and locked securely. Then suddenly a light came on somewhere in the apartment; it cast just a little light but the glass on the window was not clear glass but smoky to obscure the harsh glare of the desert sunshine. All that Katie could tell was that at one moment, the apartment was all in darkness and then a light came on somewhere. Someone was awake in the apartment.
Katie knocked on the window: at first she knocked quietly, then as loudly as she could. In the quiet of the night, it sounded deafening. And at last, she could hear someone shuffling. More lights came on and finally, with a rush of excitement, the metal door opened – and there was Chandrika, in her dressing gown, looking very alarmed.
“Why, it’s Miss Katie!” she said, surprised. “What are you doing here? Princess Saabira is sound asleep. It’s her wedding day tomorrow!”
The whole story came tumbling out: Katie was so anxious and worried that she realised afterwards that much of it can’t have made very much sense but there were some things she did tell Chandrika clearly. The girls were in danger and Princess Saabira could help. She knew at once what she must do. In just a moment, the Princess was awake and with them in the kitchen. She hugged Katie and listened to the story. At the end, when Katie told the princess that she had last seen Emily hanging off the rail from the tower rail, Katie’s voice wavered and she might for just a moment have started to cry. Princess Saabira put her arms around Katie and hugged her.
Yes, of course she would help. No, she did not have a key to the Emir’s garage – all the garages had separate keys. There was one thing she could do immediately, however, and the Princess reached for the telephone and dialled a number. It took a long time for the phone to be answered and when it did, Princess Saabira spoke rapidly in Arabic. Katie couldn’t follow her but she could hear the fear – and finally the relief – in her voice.
Chandrika did something then which made everyone feel better afterwards; she put the billy on to make a cup of tea. Just as the jug came to the boil and Katie had gone to the door three or four times to see if any one of her friends were coming, there was a knock at the door. Katie rushed to open it – and there was Nasin. He was holding a coil of rope.
“Emily got in through the bathroom window, I know, because I was able to haul back the rope. I didn’t hear anything more and she didn’t answer when I called.”
It was the only moment that night that Katie thought that perhaps her sister wouldn’t be able to rescue Father Christmas as planned. She looked forlornly at the coil of rope. “Perhaps the rope came back into your hands, Nasin, because Emily fell ..”
Katie didn’t ever finish the sentence because just at that moment there was another knock that startled everyone with its confidence and cheer. Then the door opened – without anyone going to it. There in the doorway were Emily, a large, fat Arab gentleman looking very sorry for himself and the man in the red and white costume whom everyone knew at once.
“Locks and bolts make no difference to old Father Christmas!” he announced. “And if I’m not mistaken, I can smell the delicious promise of a cup of tea! Let’s all have some because I have a lot of work to catch up on this very night!”
Chapter 7: Emily saves Christmas
Now I have to take you back to that awful moment when Emily said her prayers and climbed over the side of the railing at the very top of the highest building in the world. Yes, the rope was tied securely to the belt of her jacket and yes, the other end of the rope was tied securely to the rail and yes, Nasin was holding on bravely and lowering Emily gently down. All the same, of all the brave things the girls did that night, I think that that must have been the very bravest. The fact that Javid and Nasin did it every day didn’t make it any less scary for Emily at that moment.
Nasin lowered her so gently that it seemed to take an age to reach the two tiny windows that were opened just a crack to let in the clean, cool evening air of the desert. The first window opened into the toilet of the Emir’s apartment and sure enough, there, sitting on the toilet itself and looking thoroughly miserable was Father Christmas himself. How his sad faced brightened as soon as Emily tapped on the glass and with her hands, gently slid the glass window open. The space it formed wasn’t large – really it was only the size of a sheet of writing paper – but even so it was big enough for Emily to reach through and shake hands with Father Christmas. The hands that he reached up to her were tied, Emily noticed, with cruel ropes.
“I just knew that if anyone could rescue me, you and Katie could,” said Father Christmas cheerfully. “And those two little boys who found me here, they’re mighty little men if they travelled all across the city to find you and bring you back.”
“There’s no use my coming in there with you,” said Emily. “I’m going to try the next window that leads into the bathroom and see whether I can wriggle into that one.”
“Now you be careful,” said Father Christmas anxiously. “It looks like a very small window to me. I can normally make my way through any window or door but the wicked Emir has tied my hands and I can’t do my magic as I usually can.”
“It is a small window,” said Emily, “but I’m a very skinny girl and I think I can make it.”
It was actually much tighter than Emily thought it would be. For a start, she was slung on the rope and no matter how carefully Nasin held her, the wriggling needed to get through the window was altogether frightening. Secondly, the jacket she was wearing meant that Emily couldn’t get through the window as she might have wanted to – feet first. Instead she had to come in like a diver into a pool – head first with one arm and bony shoulder before the second one could squeeze through. But finally – and with a lot of whispered encouragement from Nasin, she was through and fell heavily on to the tiles of the bathroom floor. In a moment she was out of the jacket and through the door. The hardest part, she hoped, was over.
In a trice she had opened the toilet door and a very cramped Father Christmas was able to stretch his legs and wriggle himself all over. It took some anxious moments while Emily loosed the horrible ropes that the Emir had used to tie up his prisoner. Once Father Christmas were free, he gave Emily a hug and put his finger to his lips. Now for the most dangerous part of all.
Father Christmas led Emily on tip toes down the hall and as silently as he could, he opened the door on to the formal lounge room. It was like a palace. The floors were made of pale green marble; there were heavy silk curtains drawn back from the windows looking out over the world; crystal chandeliers were hung from the ceiling. Everywhere there were the most beautiful red and blue Persian rugs. At another time, Emily might have been entranced but tonight there were other things to look at. Despite the need for silence, Emily couldn’t stop herself from gasping in amazement at what else she saw.
There in the middle of the carpet was an enormous sack with presents spilling out all over the floor. There was a veritable storm of torn wrapping paper all over the place and in the middle of all this muddle there were presents that had been torn open. There were three or four soccer balls; two cricket bats, several train sets, lots of books, a surf mat, lots of underpants and socks and Nintendo DS games. And asleep on the leather lounge was a fat Arab gentleman who looked so happily peaceful; this must be, Emily was sure, the Emir who owned this lovely apartment.
Father Christmas looked like thunder! All of these presents, of course, had been nicely wrapped and labelled for good boys all over the world. The Emir had torn the presents open, looking to find something that he could have. And as Emily looked carefully, she noticed that the Emir had fallen asleep clutching the sweetest looking teddy bear.
The mess on the floor in the Emir’s lounge!
Now Father Christmas raised his hands dramatically and two amazing things began to happen. At a quick nod of his head, the rope that had secured Father Christmas went snaking through the air and coiled itself around the Emir’s hands and feet. The Emir awoke as the rope wrapped about him. And [much more dramatically] all the torn wrapping paper righted itself and found its original present and card. The soccer balls spun into bright red paper, the train sets flew back to their boxes and were quickly encased in silver blue paper. The Nintendos disconnected; the underpants and socks wrapped themselves up. With a mighty tug, the teddy bear escaped from the Arab gentleman and spun into a brown paper wrapping. In a moment, all the parcels quickly returned to the big sack.
“Emir Faisal!” thundered Father Christmas. “You are a very wicked man! Think of how sad the little boys of the families I have not yet visited must feel when they find they have nothing on Christmas morning!”
“I never had a present when I was a little boy!” wailed Faisal.
“That’s because you were always such a naughty little boy!” said Father Christmas.
If you had seen that poor Arab gentleman cover his face and cry, you might have felt, as Emily did, just a little bit sorry for him too. She went over to him and rubbed his back gently while Faisal sobbed. Slowly, the whole horrible story came out. Back in Saudi, the Emir had a palace and date palms and camels and shopping malls and oil wells but he was not a happy man. Faisal hated Christmas. No one ever sent him a card or bought him a gift. He had no friends to share his beautiful apartment with him; all of his wives and girl friends and servants were at home in Saudi – and none of them even bothered to think of him at Christmas. They were all very pleased when he left his splendid palace in Saudi to come to his apartment in Dubai for a holiday. He had gone to bed on this sad night but hadn’t been able to sleep and had got up to take a sleeping pill. Before he took it, he had been sitting out on his verandah feeling sorry for himself and smoking a shisha when to his great astonishment, Father Christmas and his splendid sleigh with reindeers came out of the night attracted by the light on the top of the radio tower. Father Christmas had been lost in the fog and was so pleased to see Faisal. The wicked man greeted Father Christmas and offered him a puff on the shisha.
Some of Emir Faisal’s wives and girlfriends enjoying a day in the park playing soccer.
Father Christmas should have remembered that you can’t be too careful in foreign countries. Wicked Faisal couldn’t believe his luck that Father Christmas had come to his verandah that night. While he was pretending to be welcoming and kind, Faisal had slipped the sleeping tablets into the shisha and when Father Christmas woke up, he was tied up and locked in the toilet. The reindeers, sleigh and the sack of presents for girls had been safely locked in the garage in the basement of the Burj. Emir Faisal had had a wonderful time ripping into all the presents he never had as a little boy. When he found the teddy bear, he had fallen asleep on the couch without any sleeping tablets. He was happier than he had been on any day of his life.
Father Christmas – who was probably the kindest person in the world- was angry and grumpy but he couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Emir. Father Christmas shook his head and finally put his arm around the wicked gentleman as he cried like a little boy. With a sigh and another wave of his arms, Father Christmas put an arm around the shoulder of the wicked Emir. The ropes binding Emir Faisal seemed to vanish away like smoke. Emily and Father Christmas held the wicked man for a moment before the moment passed.
“Come on,” said Emily. “We have to be moving. Katie and the Princess will be waiting for us downstairs.
There was an awkward moment as Emily, Father Christmas, and the Emir piled into the beautiful marble lift to travel just one storey down. What an interesting collection of people, Emily thought as she looked from the flowing white dishdashah of the Emir to the splendid red wool and white fur of Father Christmas’ famous suit. The Father Christmas whom you see in the shopping mall or on Christmas cards is a fat and foolish fellow; if you ever get the chance to see him in real life, he’s nothing like that. Emily thought that he looked kind and good and mischievous and intelligent; she was absolutely chuffed when he took her hand as the lift started off.
You can imagine how excited everyone was in the Princess’s apartment once the story was told. No one was more excited than Nasin and Javid who got the job of going downstairs to the Emir’s garage and bringing the sleigh and reindeers back to the top of the Burj.
“Do you two gentlemen know anything about reindeer?” asked Father Christmas hopefully. “They need a firm hand but if you tell them that you’ve come from me, they’ll do anything. Only be good to them and they will be as brave and lionhearted as any cow and as sweet tempered and intelligent as any camel!” Princess Saabira laughed here; she had enough experience with camels to know that this wasn’t much of a recommendation.
“Sir,” said Nasin, “we are always working with cows and camels. Cows can be very shy and Camels are very difficult animals to be riding; but we are brave boys and I am sure that Javid and I are bringing the reindeer and the sleigh to the window here.”
The Emir had to go with them, of course, with his special key card for the garage. He was so ashamed of what he had done I think he would have polished Father Christmas’ boots if he had asked him to do that.
It took a little while – but just a little while – for the boys to return. While they waited, Saabira kept going to the window and looking out as if she expected something or someone. It seemed strange, Katie thought, after all the excitement to be looking for more. Chandrika continued to pour the tea and everyone enjoyed some little cakes that she produced from a cake tin.
Just when the conversation turned to the wedding and all the questions the girls wanted to ask Saabira, two amazing things happened all at once. There was a mighty whoosh and there at the plate glass window was a sight most of us have only ever seen on Christmas cards: Emir Faisal was sitting on the bench of the most glorious blue and silver sleigh. It was pulled by eight fine reindeer. In the back of the sleigh, Nasin and Javid had found a pair of those festive red and white hats that Santa’s helpers often wear. They looked magnificent and their smiles were bigger than the Burj itself.
This would have been wonderful enough but at exactly that moment, three giant helicopters came steadily across the night sky, beating the wind with their enormous rotor blades. Two of the helicopters pulled up on either side of the top of the Burj; the third one hovered right over the tower and soon there were men in the smart grey uniform of the Royal Emirati Airforce snaking down on ropes to land on the verandah of Emir Faisal’s apartment. In another moment, they were at the front door. And leading the attack was the most handsome man the girls had ever seen in a dishdashah. It was, as you must already have guessed, Prince Hassan himself.
The air force attack force looked very aggressive and dangerous for one tiny moment – until Hassan was quite sure that the beautiful Princess Saabira was safe and well. Then the person in most danger was poor Chandrika because all the air force boys wanted a nice cup of tea and a cake before they would go back to barracks. Hassan hugged Saabira who shyly introduced first Father Christmas, then Emir Faisal, Javid and Nasin and finally the girls. The girls curtsied to the Prince; when they looked into his handsome face, both of them saw the kindest twinkle there. The girls would have liked this part of the night to go on for much longer but Father Christmas was clearly fidgeting and anxious to get away. He had big sacks of presents to deliver to boys and girls in lots of places. They would be late, this year, but he was sure that the anxious children would forgive him just this once.
He turned first to Javid and Nasin. “I have some parcels here for you good boys – packed before all of my adventures, I’m afraid, so it is hardly enough to say thank you for what you two fine young men have done.” Here, Father Christmas reached deep into his sack and pulled out four presents – two of them clearly marked “For Nasin” and two clearly marked “For Javid”. “But let me tell you what: my next stop after Dubai tonight is Pakistan. I have a fine new sewing machine in the boot of my sleigh. Do you think your dear mother would like that, boys? And for your sister, Yasmine, I have a nice purse of rupees so that she can look about and find a nice boy who will marry her.” The boys fairly whooped their joy! A sewing machine would mean that their poor mother could work and have a job – and with Yasmine married, the boys could save their wages and maybe open a business of their own one day.
And now Father Christmas turned to Katie and Emily. “I knew that if only the boys could find you that you could save me,” said Father Christmas gently. You are the best girls in the whole of the Emirates!” For some reason she couldn’t understand, Emily felt herself growing even taller and stronger. I doubt that she would have fitted through the bathroom window at that moment. And Katie started to cry.
“It’s true – just as you say!” said Princess Saabira. She stood behind the girls and held their hands.
“I’m sure I have something special for you in my sack,” said Father Christmas. “I promise I’ll drop it off in Mirdif on my run.”
The girls gave a little curtsey and felt very grown up.
“And now my very naughty Emir!” said Father Christmas, “What am I going to do with you?” Poor Emir Faisal. Katie had not been present upstairs to hear about how lonely he was but even she was feeling sorry for him now. Faisal hung his head; it was so sad to see someone who had so much but who was so obviously unhappy. Father Christmas sighed and drew the little boys to him with a laugh. Javid couldn’t wait to unwrap his presents and was now pulling away the wrapping on a splendid full cricket set: two bats, two balls, wickets, bails, gloves –even a box for the batter to wear! Nasin was busy trying on the contents of one of his parcels – a football with a matching North Queensland Cowboys jersey and shorts.
“These two little boys, Faisal, have so little. They wear ragged clothes and they sleep on a mat in the basement. They do hard and dangerous work right under your nose. Yet they are happy and kind and good. People love them because they love others. Faisal, you don’t have any friends, I know. You must be so lonely. But to have friends you have to be a friend. You can start by being a friend to Javid and Nasin – and to the other poor boys of the city.”
Faisal tried to speak but before he could say anything, Father Christmas was fumbling in his big sack and pulling out a brown paper parcel. To everyone’s astonishment, the card read “To Faisal – who says he will be a good boy in the future.” Faisal was too excited to be gentle with the packaging; you can imagine how pleased he was to find that the package contained the very teddy bear he had cuddled earlier that night. The smile on Faisal’s face was the thing that Katie remembered long after the terror of the ropes and the windows high above the city in the world’s tallest building had long been forgotten.
The Teddy Bear that Father Christmas gave to Emir Faisal
Then it was time for Father Christmas to go. He shook hands cheerfully with Prince Hassan, saluted all the Royal Air Force boys, hugged Javid and Nasin, kissed the hand of Princess Saabira, bowed solemnly to Chandrika and then turned to the girls. He kissed them both – a lovely, whiskery kiss such as only an old grandad can do properly- and then he was gone through the window and on to the sleigh. There was jingle of bells, a wheezing of reindeers who were anxious to be off, a lovely laugh and he was gone.
The rest of that night was a delicious blur. How to get home to Mirdif? Javid and Nasin only had to catch the lift back to their cubby house in the basement and Emir Faisal only had to catch the lift one floor up. They could take a taxi, Katie supposed, but all of the running away money had gone on the taxi in to town.
Prince Hassan had the best idea and he wouldn’t hear of taxis while the Royal Emirati Air Force was at his disposal. He used his mobile telephone to call back the helicopters. Just as they were about to leave, a television crew arrived from Al Jazeera and a young journalist wanted to interview everyone. Hassan posed for photographs with the boys, with Emir Faisal and with the girls. Chandrika and Princess Saabira made sure that they were out of focus. The helicopters could wait no longer and for the second time that night, Emily was on a rope high above the city but this time she was being winched into the helicopter with Katie, Prince Hassan and all the strike force boys.
The ride back to Mirdif in the helicopter was absolutely thrilling. The noise and excitement were magnificent and when the chopper came down on the lawn beside the swimming pool at Uptown Villas it woke up the whole neighbourhood. Daddy and Mummy came running out in their pyjamas – it was only at that moment that they realised that the girls weren’t in their beds. Prince Hassan shook hands with Daddy and told him what the girls had done to save Dubai from international shame. Father Christmas had been rescued and the world was safe again. A moment later, the helicopter was gone and all the residents of the Estate could go back to bed. Mummy made everyone a cup of cocoa as the girls – now very sleepy indeed – told them what had happened. At last, just an hour before dawn, the girls climbed the steps for bed.
The girls certainly slept in that morning. When they did get up, however, it was to find that the Christmas tree was looking spectacular with presents . The television news was showing pictures of happy boys and girls in Palestine and England and Brazil opening their Christmas presents. A very happy lady from Pakistan was holding up a sewing machine – the unexpected gift of a late Father Christmas! Beside her was a pretty young woman holding up a wallet of rupees. Al Jazeera had the story all wrong, of course, because Prince Hassan and Princess Saabira thought that if everyone got to know what Emir Faisal had really done that he would have no chance of making some friends. They hinted to the television journalist that Father Christmas had had some sort of accident in his sleigh at the Burj and that Emir Faisal had looked after the sleigh and reindeer while the problem was fixed. No one mentioned the girls on the television and no one mentioned Nasin and Javid.
After a cup of tea, the girls opened their presents. Emily had an elegant silver IPod with a whole lot of Justin Beiber and One Direction songs recorded on it. She also had some very snazzy clothes. Katie gave a little gasp when she opened her present. It was the latest model 4G iPhone. Now she could make telephone calls of her own whenever she liked – and surf the Net! A final present for Emily was a lovely set of three pairs of cotton knicker pants from Carrefour!
The girls would have liked to play with these all day but they had work to do at the Wafi Gourmet. It was the last day of their working time at the restaurant; soon they would be back at school. Daddy drove them in to the mall and when he did so, he told the girls how proud he was of them – and how sorry that the whole world didn’t know what the girls had done to save Christmas for everyone. The restaurant was busy after the Christmas holiday but you can imagine how pleased –and surprised – the girls were when one of their first customers was Princess Saabira. Even though it was her wedding day, she had come out early before she had to begin getting ready. She had under her arm two beautifully wrapped [but bulky] presents in red and gold paper. She gave one to Katie and one to Emily.
“These are from Hassan and me,” she said simply. “Please don’t open them now; can you wait until tonight? I want you to open them tonight at exactly 6 pm – after you have had your bath. Promise!”
The girls hugged the beautiful princess who had helped them so kindly the night before. Mariam put the parcels safely in the restaurant office and to be truthful, the girls were so busy that morning that they forgot about what might be in them until it was time for afternoon tea. And who should turn up at the restaurant for afternoon tea but Nasin and Javid – and Emir Faisal. The boys were wearing their sunglasses and were dressed in cool new jeans and sneakers with Billabong tee shirts and baseball caps turned around backwards. They were carrying lots of shopping bags.
You see, Faisal had really listened to Father Christmas when he spoke about friends: To have friends, you have to be a friend. Could it be as simple as that? As soon as he awoke that morning he had gone down to the basement garage of his apartment to clean it up. [There was lots of reindeer poo to sweep up and put in the bin] but once that was done, Faisal could do what he most wanted to do that morning – find the boys and help them.
He met their Uncle and took him back to his apartment so they could have a long talk. Then he found the boys and told them what he had been able to work out. The boys would leave their job washing windows; Emir Faisal was going to pay their fees so they could go to school. He would make sure that they had money for books and clothes. Their little cousins back in Pakistan [Abib and Mafooz] would come out to Dubai to work in the family window washing business. Emir Faisal also promised to buy the little family a proper house so they didn’t have to sleep on carpet or wash in the hand basin of the toilet. The shopping bags contained new shoes and clothes not just for Javid and Nasin but for Abib and Mafooz as well. The two little boys looked so happy – but no one looked happier than Emir Faisal.
When the girls got home and had had their bath, they sat in front of the television in their pyjamas and watched the clock as it ticked down to six o’clock. Their parcels were on the coffee table in front of them and finally, the moment came. Both the girls opened their parcels at exactly the same moment and both girls gasped.
There in the lovely wrapping paper of the poshest boutique in the Dubai mall was a beautiful outfit for each of the girls. Saabira must have been at the fashion boutique the moment the shop opened that morning. Katie had a gorgeous evening dress in purple silk with a long flowing skirt and lovely gold embroidery. Also in the parcel were elegant shoes, gloves and a headband that perfectly matched the lovely dress. Emily’s dress was in pink silk with silver roses embroidered in all the right places. There were silver shoes and a matching headband. For both the girls there were lovely underwear and stockings. It was so grown up. They rushed to try it all on and Mummy brushed their hair as they stood entranced in front of the looking glass.
Katie’s dress for the Royal wedding
“The only problem is that we have nowhere to go in these lovely clothes,” said Katie. “They’re not the sort of thing you can wear to the Mall on Friday.”
Just then there was a commotion at the front door. Daddy went to answer it and came back his face beaming. “Come and see this,” he said. “Everyone at Uptown Villas seems to be in the street outside our place!”
It was true. People were coming out of houses everywhere because outside their house was an enormous black Rolls Royce car with the standard of the Royal family of the Emirates flying in the front. There were two motorcycle policemen as well. In the front of the car was a smartly dressed military officer who came to attention and saluted when the girls appeared. He held the door open; in the back seats were Emir Faisal, Javid and Nasin – all dressed up quite as grandly as the girls were.”
Emily’s dress for the royal wedding.
“Come on,” called Nasin, ”We’ll be late for the wedding!”
Princess Saabira was determined that she would have her friends there for the wedding and the little trick of having them all dressed up at 6 pm was her way of making sure the girls could come. Prince Hassan wanted them there too; he had sent his father’s car for them. With sirens roaring, the car and motor cyclists went weaving through the evening traffic to the Burj Dubai in Jumeirah where the wedding was to be held. That night, the girls had the most wonderful time eating, dancing with Nasin and Javid and living like princesses. Of course Prince Hassan looked splendid in his Royal Air Force uniform and Princess Saabira looked magical in her lovely white dress. In his speech at the wedding, Prince Hassan told everyone how brave and good the four little friends were and the Emir of Dubai himself came to thank Katie and Emily, Javid and Nasin for saving his kingdom from terrible shame. People all over the world had been saying very unkind things about Dubai while Father Christmas was missing in action.
No one had more fun that night than Emir Faisal. Already he could feel himself growing into the kinder, better man that he had always wanted –deep down – to become. You can be sure that when he went home to his wives and girlfriends in Saudi that they all noticed some wonderful changes in him. He was happy now and his family were pleased to have him around.
Some of the gentlemen at the Royal Wedding
When the party was over, the Black Rolls Royce took Faisal, Javid and Nasin back to the Burj Khalifa and the little girls back to Mirdif. Mummy and Daddy waited up to hear all about the wedding. There were lots of kisses and cuddles and finally they were taking off their beautiful things and heading for bed. The girls had been so busy that they hadn’t even had a chance to look closely at their Christmas present. Katie put her new iPad safely in the drawer of her bedside table. Emily put the iPod on her dressing table. She hung up the snazzy clothes Father Christmas had given her beside the beautiful party clothes that Princess Saabira had given her. Finally, she unpacked the cotton undies from their plastic wrapper and slipped them into her undies drawer. And ..
What was this? Her hand touched something cold and hard and familiar hidden in the back of her undies drawer, It was the toffee tin – the very one she had used as the bank to collect her running away money and which she had foolishly left in the taxi the night before. When Emily opened it, she found that it was full of dirhams – notes and coins – many, many more than she had given to pay the taxi driver. There was also a note: Merry Christmas, Emily – and thank you for rescuing me! It was the most exciting moment of a very exciting day! Emily wanted to rush out to tell Kate what she had found but for one moment she paused – and turned out the light. She decided to keep this little secret to herself and not tell Katie – or anyone. Running away might still be a possibility at some time in the future and she could certainly cross the desert with all the dirhams she had now. As she snuggled into bed, Emily couldn’t help but think that this had been their best Christmas in Dubai.
Father Christmas back at the North Pole.