Thursday, 25 December 2008
We are very blessed in the UAE as so many different faiths are celebrated here. It most certainly makes for a wonderful learning experience and a whole lot of fun too. Being the festive holiday season all the malls have been decorated to the hilt. Kids of all faiths seem to take great joy in all the entertainment on offer and happily scramble over the bejewelled scenery for the sheer fun involved.
I vividly recall my first Christmas over here in the Middle East with great fondness. I was completely gobsmacked by the size of the tree in the Wafi Mall in Dubai ... it was HUGE ... the biggest I had ever seen and soooooo NOT what I expected in the Middle East. What is more, it was placed in among the Egyptian themed Wafi Mall making it a most unusual sight to behold. The pyramid stained glass windows at Wafi are simply stunning and now there is a Raffles right next door.
Christmas time is here again and the shops are heaving with happy shoppers pushing heavy trollies around. I do admit that I could do with fewer seasonal jingles and screaming kids. But I guess that's just par for the course no matter what country you're in.
In Abu Dhabi the Corniche is bedecked with magical lights from the UAE's 37th National Day celebrations. It makes for a simply magical spectacle when you are driving along the road and see the palm trees all lit up too. It is going to be a busy long weekend as Christmas is at one end and Hijira (Islamic) New Year is at the other. I expect that there will be a fantastic fireworks display on Sunday. One of the first things you learn is that fireworks are an integral part of life over here. No celebration is complete without them and many newcomers are startled when they go off indoors! I am fortunate that my apartment affords me a frontrow seat of the 'action'. The work week will be short as 1 January looms ever closer and many people have taken off on holiday.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
I will say it again because it is worth repeating ... where did the year go? It must be something in the warm Arabic air that makes time seem to pass so much faster in the Middle East. Or maybe the old adage applies that time does indeed fly when you're having fun.
The work week that has just passed has probably felt a bit long for many people in the UAE. It's all because of a 10 day holiday stint - first there was the 37th National Day and then came Eid. Most of my colleagues went away over the holiday time to take advantage of the many special offers. Some went local to the new Palm Atlantis in Dubai, one went west to Washington DC in the USA, another went East to Beijing in China, and I went south with the swallows to sunny Cape Town.