Friday, November 14, 2008

Abu Dhabi

Yalla Ya-Shabab!

So I've been in Abu Dhabi for almost a month now, and I'm finally starting to know places! Some interesting shopping malls I've been to are Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Khalidiyah Mall and Al-Raha Mall but nothing beats the malls in Dubai (more on those later). Abu Dhabi Mall has an indoor "walkers club" The adverts crack me up each time :)

"Keen on taking up walking as an exercise? Tired of the heat outside? Here's a great way out. Join the Walkers Club and enjoy walking inside the climate-controlled Mall from 7:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. So, put your best foot forward and get on the move."

The Abu Dhabi Corniche is definitely my favorite place so far... Yesterday, I went to the ladies beach (AED 5) and walked around for a bit. It was very romantic... The sand is white with lots of sharp shells and pebbles... the sea, glorious! delphinium blue and so clear you can see the ocean floor...

People were playing volleyball and enjoying ice cream cones... just like any regular beach but then I saw a woman, covered from head to toe in her abaya swimming in the sea. Her black abaya billowed under her like a stingray, but she was swift, and surprisingly graceful.

And underground, I discovered a whole network of tunnels with beautiful mosaic artwork... (a little like the subway tunnels in NYC, but much cleaner and definitely better ventilated. That's my roomie posing :).

The city itself is cosmopolitan but there's a distinct divide between the locals (native Emiratis with UAE nationality), the Arabs (native Arabic speakers from all over the Middle East and Gulf regions) and the expat community (Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and others). In the US, I grew used to seeing a more integrated community... for example, it was common to see multiracial couples or a group of high school kids (whites, african-americans, south-asians, hispanics) all hanging out together. In Abu Dhabi, everyone has their own separate community (including separate schools for the children of immigrants) and I haven't seen much inter-cultural mixing. Maybe it's because they don't have English as a universal language but mostly I think it's because the natives aren't as open or as liberal as westerners.

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