Tag Archives: abu dhabi

Child Safety Seats & more thoughts on driving in the UAE

My 6 months in the UAE have brought me great appreciation for US driving. Yes, there may be bad traffic & tailgating, but it’s all within reason. In the UAE, we say that there are 2 levels of accidents: super minor & fatal. I wish I could say that we meant it entirely as a joke, but it seems that accidents are a minor fender bender or someone was killed on impact. It’s horrible. Most of the time I’m convinced that if you get into a car accident in the UAE, the chance of an ambulance making it to you in time is so small. And all of this leads to my point…

That people drive like crazies in the UAE. The reason that an ambulance might not make it to the scene of a crash in time is because other motorists are driving on the shoulder (where the government has actually placed speed bumps…another worthy discussion) so that they can get to their own pressing engagements.

Now given all of this knowledge, wouldn’t you expect the parents and caregivers of children here to calculate that into their daily lives and invest in child safety seats? I suppose real problem with my question is that I used the phrase “wouldn’t you expect”. Anytime I use that phrase here, I am forced to remind myself that nothing is what you expect in the UAE. Back to the point at hand…

People do not invest in child safety seats because they are still investigating whether child seats are effective in preventing injury to children in accidents. All the while, parents allow their children to ride in the car unrestrained and essentially hopping all around the car. That is, if the children are sitting their parents laps as they pull a Britney! It’s really astonishing…

According to “Propaganda Weekly” (or one of the weekly newpapers here), doctors are starting to give away child seats to parents with newborns…

I guess that’s something…

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St Patty’s Celebration

So as we all know, St. Patrick’s Day is a pretty popular day in the US, with a lot of drunken debauchery and out-of-control behavior. In Abu Dhabi (since it’s a Muslim country and you can’t easily drink here…), it’s a little bit different.

Since St Pattys fell during the middle of the week here, we weren’t really going to do much to celebrate, but I ended up going out with 2 guys from work and one of their girl friends from home who was visiting. We went to an Irish bar in the Royal Meridian Hotel that had clearly been open since 2pm (because their were clearly people who had been sitting at the bar since 2, and we arrived around 830). It made for some enjoyable people watching, especially when the ridiculously drunk older women next to us started singing along with the band. Tone deaf and very drunk…also sporting some tall Guiness hats which had clearly been passed out earlier as part of a promotion. As always there were very few Americans, but lots of British and Irish. We mostly just enjoyed the unbelievablely horrible service (and I mean one waitress for the patio that held about 80), and attempted to drink away the fact that we were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a hotel bar in a city on a Desert Island in a Muslim country. It made for an interesting evening, especially watching the drunk patrons dance to the music of the semi-decent band. Drunk Irishmen have some interesting dance moves…

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Upcoming Travel plans

So as I have already mentioned, I am traveling to Florence at the end of the week to see Lizzie and I am SO excited.

But I have recently made new travel plans as well. I am going to India over Easter Weekend (we have Sunday off). I’m going with 2 other guys from work and we are flying into Delhi. I’m not entirely sure where all we are going, but I know the Taj Mahal (one of the guys is in charge of the sightseeing stuff). But I am so excited. If anyone has any advice on things to see near Delhi, let me know.

Beyond that, my life is pretty tame now. The guys that I work with borrowed 2 projectors from the office, so we have been watching a lot of the NCAA games with 3 games going at one time on one of the white walls in their apartment. Very intense, but it’s been a nice change (having American sporting events). We have been watching all of the games from cbssports.com and the quality has been really good, so that’s a big plus.

It’s starting to get a lot warmer here (and more humid), so I’m not quite sure how I will survive the summer…hmmm. Until next time…

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why I love iTunes

So despite being halfway around the world (although soon to be only a 9 hour time difference with CST), I am trying to stay connected with what is going on in the world, as well as music and shows, etc. This is why I love iTunes. I have been able to keep up with Season 5 of the office (yes Erin, I still love it and find it hysterical. Tell Joey for me!). But I have also started watching Mad Men, Lost, the Tudors (granted not all on iTunes, some on just regular DVDs). And I love some of the podcasts (when I can download them, which isn’t often since the internet in my apt is so slow).

But in case anyone is curious about what I am listening to:
A Hundred Million Suns Album by Snow Patrol (Lizzie – you’d LOVE it)
808s & Heartbreak by Kayne
Year of the Gentleman by Ne-Yo
Plus trying to keep up with all the new “popular” songs…

Although side note: It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was in Mexico watching Pam rock out to “Get Low”…Happy Green Beer Day everyone

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…It’s been a while…

I realize that it’s been over 2 months since my last post, but I haven’t really felt like I’ve had that much to say. However, since it is now March and I have been living here for over 4 months, I though I’d give you an update…

Abu Dhabi has not been immune to the economic crisis, despite what most papers published here will say. At the beginning of January, we had layoffs. Obviously, since I have not come back to the States, I managed to keep my job :). There has also been some slowdown in the construction industry here, but since we have a smaller team I am staying just as busy and have had loads of client interaction. So to sum up: Job is busy, but good.

Now on to better things, like my current situation out here. I live in my apartment still alone, and I am the only expat woman left on our team. But I sort of have internet in my apartment now, which is making things a little bit better. It’s very slow and won’t work on my Mac, but I can check my email and chat.

After the layoffs (at the beginning of January), I was lucky enough to have a visitor for a week. Benji came to see me and we went to Dubai. It was great to see him and take a little vacation from work. At the end of the week, we both returned back to the States. I was in town for about a week and managed to see several of you.

Since then, the month of February flew by. I am convinced that the work week makes that possible. As we work Sunday-Thursday, Sunday never really feels like a real work day, so by the time Thursday rolls around, it’s hard to believe the week is over.

At the end of March, I’ll be traveling to Florence to visit Lizzie! I am so excited, not only because I haven’t seen her since October, but also because I love Florence and am eager to see the city again. Not to mention that by that point, Lizzie should know all the great places (hint, hint).

Beyond that, I don’t have too much more to say. But now because I have internet, I will make a much stronger effort to post more regularly with the happenings on the other side of the world.

I miss you all!
The month of February seemed to fly

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I’ll try and catch you up on my life

Again, let me apologize for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. For those of you that do not know, I have moved into my apartment. The downside is that the building is not yet equipped for Internet access. Hence, no posts.

I am currently watching The Wire and enjoying some hommus, so I thought I’d catch you up on my life.

We moved into the apartments the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I am living with another woman from work. Our apartment is furnished, but quite sparse at the moment. Other than spending WAY too much money at IKEA to furnish my room, my other “big” purchase for the apartment has been a juicer. I have been enjoying all the fresh juices here, and thus loving the new juicer (although it is very messy).

After moving into the apartments, we had a shortened week due to National Day. The UAE celebrated its 37th year as a nation last week, December 2nd. The ENTIRE city was and still is decorated in twinkle lights that say “UAE” and “37”. Entire buildings are decorated to look like the Emirati flag and other complex designs.

Since National day is a national holiday, we did not have work last Tuesday. Starting Monday evening on the way back from work, everyone seemed to be driving a little crazier than normal. Perhaps it was just excitement for the upcoming holiday, but perhaps it was the fact that all of the cars were completely covered in UAE paraphernalia. I mean so much decoration that people could not see out of their windows. I saw some cars draped in the Emirati flag with a hole in the flag so the license plate could be seen. We even saw an accident caused when 3 teenagers were on the hood of a car and the driver tried to change lanes and clipped the bumper of the car in the other lane. It was a crazy place.

There were tons of fireworks, but I mostly used the day to rest. I did some great people watching at a café near our apartments on the Corniche (essentially the Boardwalk). It was quite an exciting experience.

As for this week…

We also have several days off this week for Eid (pronounced Ede, like Eden without the ‘n’). So I have Sunday through Tuesday off during this week. I wanted to travel during this time, but it didn’t really work out. I’ve been hanging around here.

I went to Dubai on Sunday. We went to the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk. I bought some fun spices, which will be very useful when we are able to cook in our apartment. We had lunch at a Pakistani restaurant that was a VERY local place. The food was good though. Very different, but I liked it. We also went to the Mall of the Emirates and saw the indoor ski slope. We did not however try it out.

Finally we saw the Burj Dubai again, the Burj Al Arab (which is the iconic sailboat-looking hotel), and we drove onto the Palm Jumierah and drove to the Atlantis hotel. It was very cool. It’s crazy to think that I was on what many are calling the 8th Wonder of the World.

Mind-blowing.

Anyways, I hope that all is well with all of you. I have enjoyed the updates to all of your lives ☺. And hopefully I’ll get some more pictures posted soon. Miss you all!

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A Thanksgiving Abroad…

Happy Thanksgiving!
I apologize for not posting sooner, but several events transpired over the weekend that prevented me from fully explaining to you the wonder that was … “A Thanksgiving Abroad”.

To start, I’d like to give you some very well know, but easily forgotten (and without a doubt, crucial to the story) facts about Thanksgiving:
1. It is a completely American holiday. (That means no one else remembers or celebrates the “day” that pilgrims brought diseases from the old world into the new world and then slaughtered some Native Americans, or you know, we all sat around the table and gave Thanks for the new world.)
2. It is a holiday devoted ENTIRELY to eating. Now it may not have originally started as an eating holiday, but now it most certainly is. (Meaning that it is a marathon, not a sprint, as some non-Americans quickly learned.)
3. Finally, it is the ONLY holiday in the entire year where every American (unless they opt otherwise) regardless of religion, gender, race, etc. observes a family oriented holiday (because the 4th isn’t an entirely family oriented holiday– which I will get to in a later post – and New Year’s isn’t either).

Now perhaps from the fact reminders that I have just laid forth you can guess certain parts of the coming story…

I started Thanksgiving this year by…going to work! It was definitely a weird experience to be far away from the U.S. for such a fundamental holiday. But unlike Election Day where everyone around the world was so enthralled by the election and there was still an intimate connection with the U.S. on that day, Thanksgiving seemed MILES away. Fortunately, as Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, it was the beginning of the weekend here.

As a large office group, we went to the Beach Rotunda Hotel for a Thanksgiving buffet. The U.S. Embassy had reserved several tables for the meal and we attempted to turn an original reservation in the Embassy section of 8 people into a reservation for 18 (we had an additional reservation for the buffet but not in the Embassy section). We were not successful.
However! Through some skillful haggling and yelling by one of my co-workers, we all received the Thanksgiving special that the U.S. Embassy group had (it included a free glass of sub-par wine).

As this is a holiday devoted to eating, the buffet was a lovely spread filled with typical Thanksgiving food. As a group of Americans, what item do you think we went for first? Turkey? Stuffing? Cranberries? Wrong!

SUSHI! But that statement by itself is what made it Thanksgiving. We indulged our completely American pleasures and went for sushi first, as the buffet also had non-typical Thanksgiving food like sushi, Arabic Traditional, as well as an extensive seafood buffet (which consequently allowed me to try caviar for the first time – not bad…).

The turkey was ok, a little dry. The mashed potatoes were delicious and there was even a garnish of crispy garlic pieces on top (several of my favorite foods rolled into one). I also had some delicious cold potato soup from the seafood bar. The wild rice wasn’t great (I definitely missed my mom’s wild rice as well as her broccoli puree thing…yum!). Finally, the cornbread was apparently horrible. And the stuffing looked like an uncooked Tollhouse roll of cookie dough.
As for dessert, the pumpkin pie looked remarkably similar to some sort of tart. I went for the flourless chocolate cake with small currant berries. It was just as good as it sounds.

To finish off, we had a couple additional glasses of sub-par wine. All in all, it was no Thanksgiving in the States, but I got my mashed potatoes and wine, so I was a pretty happy camper.

We did have a couple Brits join us for dinner who upon completion of the meal, realized that they had not paced themselves enough and felt slightly ill (rookies).

I hope that everyone’s Thanksgiving was as wonderful as they hoped it would be. But please know that I missed all of you immensely!

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