Tag Archives: UAE

Leaving

5 May

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I hate goodbyes. There are so many with our rather itinerate life. Everything is “ this is the last time” I’ll do this or that, whether it’s a favourite walk, a coffee morning, a quiz night or a beach excursion. You can’t help it.
And you know that the life you are leaving will go on without you. Events are organised, friends make arrangements to meet up and you’re no longer part of it.
You hug those you’ve come to care about as tears fill traitorous eyes, not knowing when, or even if, you will ever see them again.
Don’t get me wrong. We have so much to look forward to. But leaving is never easy.

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Not Much Longer

24 Apr

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My time in Abu Dhabi is rapidly coming to an end. These last few days are rushing by as I try to cram in lots of things I’ve not done before or want to do one last time. I don’t know whether it is just because I’m psyching myself up to leave but I’m ready to go.

You know it’s time to leave Abu Dhabi when:

You expect doors to just open for you and taps to turn themselves on.

If a taxi costs more than £4 you’re horrified but you expect a glass of wine to be £10.

You find 25° a bit chilly and the receptionist wearing a scarf seems appropriate.

You automatically take a jacket to wear inside and take it off when you leave the building.

You’re used to being called “Ma’am” and “Miss Catherine” is positively friendly.

You get irritated if you don’t have the pool to yourself or if it is not heated or chilled to exactly your preference.

You start saying that all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunches are over rated.

Drinking cocktails on the 80th floor no longer gives you a buzz.

You don’t notice the amazing, death-defying window cleaners or you get irritated that they haven’t managed a perfect shine at 70 floors up.

Undertaking, tailgating and sudden lane changes are the only way you can get to work, while five lanes to choose from is not enough. Making u-turns doesn’t mean you’re lost.

You develop vitamin D deficiency because you daren’t expose any skin to sunlight without factor 50.

You actually consider getting a maid.

You buy a boat in Greece.

OK, so not all of the above apply to me personally but I’ll let you guess which ones do!

Movie Night

11 Apr

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Movie Night has really taken off in Abu Dhabi. No surprise there. After all, who wouldn’t want to lie on a sunbed, under the stars, on the shores of the Arabian Gulf? OK, your view may be restricted by a palm tree and the screen may wobble a bit in the breeze but who cares? The film won’t be hot from Hollywood – there are plenty of mega cinemas in AD for the latest blockbuster if that’s what you’re looking for. No, Movie Night is not about the movie. Sure, it helps if it’s Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman dishing out the one-liners but “you pays your money and you take your choice”, right? Nope, it’s free.

Of course, the hotel management is not providing this out of the goodness of its heart. Waiters are on hand to bring you food and drink at the usual 5* hotel prices and we did indulge (you guessed, huh?). A burger and a beer might set you back a bit but the beef is wagu and of a size that means you probably won’t want any breakfast the next day. But it’s up to you. No pressure. So get there early to reserve the best sunbeds.

Well, I Didn’t Expect That

10 Mar

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Photo by @samiralsaleh

I started my last post extolling the virtues of March in Abu Dhabi and, not unreasonably, thought the weather was a pretty safe bet. So it came as something of a surprise to see the comments and pictures friends were sharing on social media yesterday.
First it was talk of rain, then thunderstorms. I laughed on reading they’d closed the schools for two days. For a bit of rain? Someone shared a picture of hail stones. Hail in the desert?

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Then the videos started to come out. OK, now I get it!

Photo of hailstones from unknown photographer

Sunrise Over the Arabian Gulf

2 Mar

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As you might expect, the sun is an intrinsic part of life in Abu Dhabi. Life and lifestyles revolve around it. Before the oil boom the Emirati people were nomadic, travelling to and away from the coast as dictated by the seasons. Now the black gold pays for air-conditioned everything and the city has gone from desert to Flash Gordon (great phrase, Mark, hope you don’t mind me pinching it!) in thirty years.
Being a Brit who has lived on a boat, it’s not surprising that the weather is of unfailing interest to me but watching the sunrise from our corner of a shiny tower has become something of an obsession. I hate to oversleep and miss it. Happily, this close to the equator, the start of the day comes at a very civilised time year round and never seems to be the same.

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Coppery rivers flow to the shore

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At times, when the air is heavy with humidity, the sun’s arrival is barely visible

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At others its blaze can be nothing short of magnificent.

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Fog in the Desert

21 Feb

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If you’d asked me before coming to Abu Dhabi what the weather would be like I would never have mentioned fog. I’m used to the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” that is Autumn in the UK but fog in the desert? Well, the thought never crossed my mind and came as a huge surprise the first time I saw it.
I’d heard about the humidity of the summer here but you have to experience that to truly appreciate just how intense it is. Come the end of September, the heat really starts to diminish and it feels like someone has thrown a switch turning the humidity off. Winter in the UAE is a longed for time.
And yet the humidity never really goes away. It’s just not a problem when the heat gets turned down. The difference is that, from time to time, the weather conditions combine to create mists and fog, usually early in the morning before the heat of the sun starts to raise it. We’ve had such conditions this week.
Of course, Abu Dhabi is a city in the desert, with tall, shiny, glass towers that, if you’re privileged enough to live in one, mean you can look down on the surreal and swirling beauty beneath you.

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And finally, a picture taken by Dawn Challoner just as the sun was rising.

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How amazing is that?

Robbie

26 Apr

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We’re not big concert goers but when Robbie Williams comes to the Du Arena in Abu Dhabi you get tickets. Us and just about every other British ex-pat in the UAE. Mind you, when I mentioned we were going to see him at a recent coffee morning I got some very odd looks from the American contingent and “Robin Williams? I thought he died?” It seemed hard to believe to us Brits but they’d never heard of Robbie.
As for me, well, when he walked on stage last night I screamed like a teeny bopper (remember them?). This man is Mr Charisma and when he says Let Me Entertain You he means it. He had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first chorus, singing our hearts out. As he put it “Your a**es are mine for the next two hours”.
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What a show, what a performer. Yes, we had the hits and yes, there was a bit of swing but there was also the unexpected. This chameleon effortlessly swung from touching to raunchy (and sweary!) in a tribute to his young daughter and son and also brought his father on stage for a duet of Better Man. We all danced and sang with gusto for the entire performance before he returned for a stunning encore of, believe it or not, Bohemian Rhapsody as the original Queen video played on the screen behind him. The effect was stunning. This led smoothly into Angels, of course, a final chorus sung totally without backing, Robbie the only one left on stage. Unaccompanied, that is, except for the entire audience. He left us singing.
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