Saturday, 3 December 2011

ABU DHABI: 40th anniversary of the UAE

One of the most amazing events I have ever seen in my life was the 40th anniversary of the UAE. The Sheikh announced a few days in advance that there will be a bank holiday that week. This shows already how life works in the UAE.
If Sheikhs decide something, it’s final and is done as soon as possible. Most of the cars were ridiculous; decorated head-to-toe in the colours of the flag (white, green, black and red), many with pictures of the forefathers of the UAE. People went crazy, there were 40’s everywhere, even on the huge buildings, they put lights on everything, hung up pictures of their president and “father” Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. At the actual evening there was a firework display planned at the Corniche, but no clear time was announced.

People were walking down the Corniche with silly spray and spray snow in their hands spraying it at each other. Everyone seemed so peaceful, excited and happy. No music was on the streets, but the atmosphere was still unbelievable. The streets were packed with cars, hooting and backfiring to make as much noise as possible.

Everyone in the country was very polite and helpful, and the crime rate in general is very low. The Sheikhs aim is it to have satisfied and happy citizens which is why they have raised their income in 2011, particularly those jobs in the public sector. All in all it was a very exciting holiday with lots of experiences. Definitely worth a visit, but if you are looking for a serious cultural dipping, I would choose another destination.

Friday, 2 December 2011

ABU DHABI: Gold to eat

The next day we wanted to see the skyline of the Corniche and go first for a coffee in one of the most expensive hotels in Abu Dhabi, The Emirates Palace. Luckily we made an appointment first, so they let us in, otherwise we would have only seen the hotel from the outside.

We had one of the most expensive cappuccinos, the Emirates Palace Cappuccino; rich espresso topped with frothy fresh milk and 24 carat gold flakes!

Everywhere you looked in the hotel there was gold. Afterwards, we crossed the street and went to the beach. Some of them are free, but then you risk local Indian workers standing and staring at you. It was very windy at the beach and very few people went for a swim.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

ABU DHABI: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

It is one of the most stunning mosques I have ever seen in my life. The ones I have already seen in Istanbul are amazing, but this one is huge, the second biggest in the world, and so beautiful. Everything was white and gold.
You can hear and see the prayer. Women have to wear hijab, which covers the head and must cover the wrists and ankles. In the entrance women hand out the black shawls for women. Men just need to wear smart clothes and cover their legs.

The majority of the Arab locals wear their traditional dress. The men, usually, a white outfit with a headscarf, called a keffiyeh, and the women the black hijab. We wondered if different levels of society wore different dress, however we were told this was not the case, and the Sheikh’s will wear the same as a man who is not royal.

However, the men’s headscarves may vary depending on the situation. They can chose any keffiyeh they want, but generally men from the UAE will wear a white keffiyeh at a business meeting, wheras the Palestinians will wear a red keffiyeh in a similar situation.

The lady’s outfits look very similar but there are subtle differences; some have different jewelry sewn on, others with different coloured stitching along the edges and many are made by famous brands. Women still love fashion and commonly dress quite extravagantly underneath. They love heels and long hair, which are the only parts you can see when they are wearing their hijab, so they make sure those parts look particularly good. However, it shows they care for themselves and symbolizes that they care for their family.