This post is well overdue. Going back to the states for the summer, and again a few weeks ago, has reminded me of some of the things about the UAE that I really do love. Here are some of the things that I spent enjoying and taking for granted and forgetting to share with all of you . . .
1. Middle Eastern Food: A whole summer of not having Lebanese or Syrian food has made me long for good hummus (not the kind you get at the grocery store back home), fatoush (my favorite!!), falafel, the minced seasoned grilled lamb, and I now get to add Babaganoush to the list (thanks to our new friends Shon and Jenia who ordered this last night)!!
That last picture is of my delicious Fatoush with pomegranate dressing – yum!! This was take away we ordered when we first got back into Al Ain from Al Rawdha. I seriously need to do a post just on that place – maybe soon because now I’m hungry! By the way, if you are in Al Ain, so far our favorite places are Al Rawdha (on Abu Dhabi Road after the Diwan round about) and Al Mallah (also on Abu Dhabi Road near the Ayla round about).
2. Holidays: I really do love holidays here. During Ramadan and Eid the city decorates and you can really feel the spirit of each celebration. I don’t know how else to describe it but I’ll have to start taking pictures next holiday time and sharing them with you all. Last month was Eid Al Adha where Muslims celebrate when Ibrahim almost sacrificed his son but Allah provided a sheep in his place. This is also the time when Muslims, if they can, perform Hajj to Mecca. At school everyone got into the spirit as the hallways and classrooms were decorated with sheep, ribbons, and models of the Ka’aba in Mecca. Each morning during Taboor (morning assembly) gifts from each of the departments in school were passed out to all the teachers. Mostly cute little boxes full of candy and nuts.
3. Henna: During the Eid holiday a bunch of us went to Sona near Al Jimi Mall to get henna done – and now I just can’t get enough! I think henna is so beautiful and during holidays and celebrations the girls always have henna. We went to the basement of Sona where they did our hands and feet and then we sat for about an hour until it dried. So beautiful.
4. Abu Dhabi: Back in September we decided to go back to the Intercontinental in Abu Dhabi – the place we first arrived when we came to the Emirates. Going to Abu Dhabi always feels like we are going to a second home. Abu Dhabi was where we first were introduced to the Emirates and we spent a whole month there before being moved to Al Ain to start teaching. The Intercontinental is really like our second home here.
For example, we never get tired of looking at the Jumeirah Towers:
And of course the beach and corniche. Just last weekend Jenna and Dave invited us along to the Formula 1 Fan event and the U-17 World Cup Fan event happening on the corniche (sorry those pics are from my phone and I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of Jenna and Dave with us – photographer fail!). They had all kinds of things set up including massive t.v.’s that showed the races on the beach!
6. The Roads: Now let me make very clear that I’m not saying the driving – because honestly, the driving and all the round abouts are terrifying. No one follows the rules – everyone just drives where they want, merges without looking, and drives really really fast. The thing that I love though is that all the roads are new, brightly lit, and generally lined with date palms. I didn’t realize how unique this was until I got a bit of reverse culture shock this summer – driving on country roads was really scary and dark when back home – they are not lit and they are full of pot holes and bumps. The roads here – even the ones right out into the middle of the desert are brightly lit (seriously you wouldn’t even need your headlights), smooth, and new. And its always great to see a sand dune while you’re driving. The sand does block the road sometimes on our way to work when it’s windy but there is always a crew there sweeping it away.