It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year that we’ve lived in Abu Dhabi. One year of blistering heat and murderous sun, one year of travel opportunities in this part of the world, and one year of continuing this wonderful lifestyle of ours.
I had originally intended on presenting this as a list of my likes and dislikes in regards to Abu Dhabi and the UAE. However, I’ve realized that many of the things that I like about this part of the world are a direct result of the things that I don’t like about it. So, after careful consideration, I have amassed a number of thoughts on the things I like about the year in the desert and I present them to you, in no particular order, for your perusal.
Abu Dhabi International Airport: I have to put this at the top of the list for many reasons. One is that it is a very nice airport. Secondly, it’s only ten minutes from our house, which has made it very convenient when we absolutely had to escape this city over the last year, which we did many, many times. Additionally, air fares are more than reasonable and an abundance of local holidays have made travel a breeze. Abu Dhabi is nice, but fancy hotels and shiny malls can wear a bit thin. We spent more time exploring other parts of the world than we did Abu Dhabi, and I’m okay with that. Will I ever again have the chance to spend a weekend at Chernobyl? Most likely not.
Electricity: Many sources put the United Arab Emirates in the top five countries for global carbon dioxide emissions, mainly due to the fact that natural gas is the primary fuel for the generation of electricity. It’s not surprising that this country needs so much power, as everything is air conditioned. Everything. Like the indoor ski slope and some parking garages at those shiny malls. I am, by nature, very frugal with power and water but I must admit that I’ve never been more thankful for electricity in my life. The heat here is unfathomable, and while I am judicious with my a/c usage, I do use it with much love.
Culture: One thing that I’ve noticed is a distinct lack of culture in the UAE, at least in comparison to some of the other countries in the Middle East that we’ve visited, such as Jordan and Egypt. Unless, that is, you count a rapid transformation from Bedouin to filthy rich as a culture, and I think that sociologists and anthropologists could have fun exploring that metamorphosis. I, personally, have found more culture within the communities of foreigners who have come here to chase a dream. The Indians, the Bangladeshis, the Pakistanis, the Filipinos and the Malays have carved a niche for themselves and their cultures, and they celebrate their customs with joy. I like that.
Beauty: There is beauty in the bleak of the desert, and I find much that is beautiful here. The Arab women are stunning, and the inky black of their robes only serve to highlight their gorgeous features, smoky eyes, and their stunning shoes that peek from beneath. The Emirati men have never made white look so good, and they should have a monopoly on aviator sunglasses, as I’ll now never be able to appreciate that look on anyone else. The waters of the Arabian Gulf are a shade of blue that rivals, and sometimes beats, those of the Caribbean Sea, and sand dunes are made up of too many colors to count, if you look closely enough. The amazing architecture of Abu Dhabi and Dubai is stunning to look at, but I have found more beauty in the simplicity of this part of the world.
It’s So Easy: I think that a lot of people have some preconceived notions about living in the Middle East, and many of those are spot on. After all, this part of the world is not necessarily the easiest for westerners to adapt to. However, the UAE is uniquely welcoming, and sometimes I think life here is more American than in America. Staples like alcohol and pork are easily obtained, as are most other products that expats desire, as most everything is imported from Europe. Bars and clubs all over the city woo partygoers with glitz and glamour, and water parks and roller coasters tempt with expensive thrills. It’s in many ways a dream land, until that summertime heat slaps your head and screams, “Wake up!”
As things stand now, we’ll be in this part of the world for another year. However, as many of you who know us can attest, that is subject to change at a moment’s notice. Am I ready for another twelve months in the desert? Yes and no, but the time has taught me a lot about myself and a part of the world that I never thought I’d become intimate with.
First and foremost, I have learned that I like Abu Dhabi, but I also like leaving it from time to time.