Monday, 16 January 2012
Monday, 26 September 2011
Abu Dhabi has one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Sheihk Zayed mosque. It is a wonderfully harmonious and well balanced building. The stark white marble generates a wonderful sense of peace and tranquillity.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Monday, 26 October 2009
Picnics in the park
Taking a stroll or a drive on a Friday afternoon and passing all the families out in the public parks. You see all the trappings of a great day out: the camper chairs set out with the portable braai (barbeque). It is so relaxing to see them out enjoying themselves. Khalidiya Park between 24th and 26th street is very popular spot. It has wifi, a lighthouse, play areas for the kids, walking paths and hillocks for people to have a picnic with a view of the sea.
Every time that I see an able-bodied person getting out of the car that they have just parked in a disabled bay I am so tempted to shout out loud “hallelujah, it’s a miracle they can walk!” Grrrhhh.
Before I came to the Middle East I never associated a feather duster with a car. Now that I have been here awhile, I can actually see a use for them. It certainly helps to keep them looking sparkly clean.
Actually it would be more correct to call it the “New, new Corniche”. Of course, if I were to call it the “New Corniche” then the cities ‘old timers’ (i.e. those who have been here 6+ years) will think that I mean the east coast road Corniche which faces the mangroves. The seafront promenade has had 2 major facelifts in my 5 years and is currently undergoing a 3rd extension to the beach. The public beach is proving very popular and it is wonderful to see the families off for a cooling dip. I can confess that I do find the use of the word Corniche in this part of the world rather quaint and almost has a hint of British colonial days to it.
The view from the breakwater near to the Marina Mall is quite simply spectacular. My favourite time of day would be at sunset when the city lights come on.
The flagpole on the breakwater is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as being the tallest in the world. It is a lovely sight to behold the national flag unfurling from this city landmark.
The architectural style of buildings in the UAE is certainly very varied both in look and age. It is not quite as dramatic as Dubai, but it does have some iconic ones. The buildings from the 1970s and the oil boom era abound on Hamdan and Elektra streets. The newer Aldar building and Buyanuna Tower are so tall that they serve as a useful guide to pinpoint where you are in the city. Some of the hotels are spectacular signs of Abu Dhabi’s coming of age – the Emirates Palace and Shangri La being two of my favourites.
Friday, 2 October 2009
The unifying factors have been family and friends. Summer meant a chance to see beloved and much missed friends. A Ramadan blessing this year was to share Iftar with a Muslim colleague who is new to the Middle East. And Eid was the cherry on top as I went home to be with my family.
The lesson in all of this is that despite a busy life here in Abu Dhabi, it is important to remember to put those we love at the centre of it all.... faith, family and friends.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
I recently watched two movies with really great music tracks. Okay, so I admit that both of them happen to be chick flicks - even though I remain unconvinced that this is a prerequisite for heart stirring tunes.
The first was the West End musical phenomenon much later turned into a movie, Phantom of the Opera. The other was the classic Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie, Sleepless in Seattle. The problem that I now have is that the songs keep playing in my head. It’s a little bit frustrating to say the least … humming “past the point of no return” while driving in Abu Dhabi is a somewhat surreal experience. I shall definitely not be acting on Louis Armstrong’s “a kiss to build a dream on” in public as it could land me in serious hot water. I will be adding a little yin yang balance to my musical repartee and rev up the beat with the fabulous sound track from Good Morning Vietnam. Coincidentally, it features another unforgettable Satchmo classic - the very poignant “what a beautiful world”.
Sunday, 31 May 2009
The temperature gauge in the UAE is hitting the high notes with mid-40s (Celsius) now being the norm. Unfortunately, this has also been accompanied by a sudden humidity hike and the reurn of the steaming glasses phenomenon. According to the met office these high temps have come much earlier in the year than previous years and the average monthly temperature is also higher.
A French wave has swept the capital city, Abu Dhabi, with Nicholas Sarkozy visiting last week, news of the establishment of a French naval base and a new art exhibition opening at the Emirates Palace as part of the Louvre developments.
The One has another of it's spectacular events - a 25% off everything sale. Naturally I took full advantage of this retail therapy on offer. The staff are always so friendly and helpful at the Khalidiya branch. It is a pleasure to shop in a place that is a veritable Aladin's cave and full of magical items. When you combine this with staff who are properly trained and knowledgeable it is easy to see why The One is a favourite amongst locals and expats alike.
All this excitement is happening while people are gearing up or down (depending on your final destination) for the annual summer vacation. This is a time when people leave the heat of the sands behind them and head on off for some much needed R & R. When I came to the UAE 6 years ago it was a veritable exodus and the streets and shops were noticeably empty. These days it is more subtle. With the economic downturn one also isn't sure if people are packing up for good or not. Removals companies report that they are fully booked alraedy! I'll be heading off to the southeast of England for a 10 day mini break.