City of Contrasts

8 Sep

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Now I know I’m back in Abu Dhabi. Sitting in the food court of the Al Wahda Mall I was struck again by the contrasts in this amazing city that has so relatively recently sprung up from the desert sand. There I was, sipping my diet cola as I waited for a shop to open, relaxing in the sunlight under the glass roof as the air was cooled around me, bright enough to need sunglasses yet not exposed to the harsh elements of the outside.

The tempting smell of cinnamon drifted over from the nearby cake stand as the morning prayers were sung through the loud speakers. Even in this palace of mammon the traditional ways still hold sway. Yet all around me were the American fast food joints with their Lebanese, Thai and Indian equivalents and many of the high street stores westerners would be familiar with. 

I had positioned myself in a good spot to view the comings and goings around me. Dish dasha and abaya clad locals rode the escalator alongside those in skinny jeans and strappy tops. Women wearing beautiful coloured hijabs passed yummy mummies in Armani and heels.

The shop I’d been waiting for was the photographers. I needed another, different, picture to continue with my visa application, the four they already have being insufficient. Another hurdle successfully jumped. Tick.

As my Sri Lankan taxi driver drove me home (the one who’d brought me was Nepalese, his home in the foot hills of Mount Everest) we chatted about our families and the city we were both so newly getting acquainted with, both looking forward to the cooler weather, both only familiar with the other’s home country from TV and movies. What a remarkable place this is, bringing the world to its doorstep.

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