Friday, December 5, 2008

Thunderstorm in Abu Dhabi

It's 5:39 am and I'm in the villa watching a thunderstorm from my window... lightning, high winds and heavy, but short-lived downpours. I just heard a rooster crowing... :P reminds me of our Pathan neighbors back home.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Emirati Idiosyncrasies

As I go about my daily business, I notice some interesting and somewhat peculiar styles/habits among the locals in Abu Dhabi...

The Unibrow:
The unibrow appears to be something of a fashion statement among Emirati women... Basically, they don't pluck or wax the hair between their eyebrows and have a straight, thick line of hair on their foreheads.

In western culture it is often associated with grumpiness but I guess it's a beauty thing here...

Sporting Sunglasses Indoors and at Night:
A number of guys (and some girls too) like wearing their shades indoors. I've seen people at malls, banks, grocery stores and even the cinema. Apart from looking "cool" factor, I guess it makes it easier to squint at members of the opposite sex without appearing too obvious...   

Hijabi Fashionistas:
Lots of girls observing hijab have started leaving out some of their bangs... these are fashionably styled and sometimes streaked or sprinkled with glitter. Women here also wear a ton of make-up! I guess when you have nothing else to occupy your time and can't do a lot with your hair and daddy/husband is paying the bills, make-up is the way to go... 

Filipino Maids:
Almost every Emirati family with little kids employs a Filipino maid. These women serve as nannies, cooks, housekeepers, baby-sitters and care-givers. Some families have personal maids for each kid! The poor maid wipes the kids mouths when they dribble ice cream over their chins and get yelled at if the kids misbehave while Mommy dearest goes shopping at Paris Gallery.
Smoker's Corner:
There's a store called Smoker's Corner... nuff said!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

UAE National Day

On December 2, 2008 the United Arab Emirates celebrated its 37th national day with gusto... In an exuberant display of patriotism, all the trees lining the roads were illuminated, and Emiratis took to the streets in big manly cars (SUVs and land cruisers) adorned with black, green and red heart stickers, and plastered with photos of the Sheikhs (Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan (late), Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan and Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum).

Young girls dressed in national attire, complete with the gold headdress and lots of make-up poked their heads through the sun-roofs and threw confetti into the street while the "men" touted water guns and honked horns :P Later in the evening, there was a magnificent display of fireworks near the Corniche which quite literally lit up the sky.

Here's a picture from Abu Dhabi Daily Photo:

It was heart-warming to see everyone enjoying the festivities but at the same time, I felt a little sad knowing that my own country (Pakistan) has had precious little to celebrate in the past few years. Few can afford to cast off their burdens and be truly happy in the prevailing atmosphere of despair and apathy.