Spence Green

التكرار يعلم الحمار

I work at Lilt. In addition to computers and languages, my interests include travel, running, and scuba diving. more...

First Night in UAE

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From 8/18/05:
I arrived this evening and was met by a young Filipino woman. She expedited my passage through immigration and in no time I proceeded out of the terminal. Two co-workers, Steve Pipe and David Coe, were waiting for me. Weary from travel, I shuffled along with them, just trying to remember their names. We walked through a tunnel to the parking lot and I was immediately met by a blast of burning desert air. Even at 9:30PM, the temperature exceeded 100 degrees. The sky was clear and I could see many stars. We proceeded to Dave’s car, parked just beside the airport. This place showed no sign of the pandemonium at American airports. We roared out onto the highway at 160kph+, for traffic laws here are but guidelines. The roads have traffic cameras that automatically issue tickets, but commuters simply memorize the locations and speed in the intervals. We crossed the Maqta Bridge onto the island of Abu Dhabi, about 20 minutes time from the airport. To the left, the partially completed Grand Mosque loomed on the horizon. This national edifice has been under construction for over a decade, with renewed activity only commencing upon the passage last year of Shaikh Zayed, the country’s first ruler. The town itself seemed much like any other city: we passed a McDonald’s, a mall, and a Harley Davidson dealer. The roads made Buckhead look like an auto auction: BMWs, Porsches, Audis. The default vehicles seemed to be Toyota Landcruisers and Porsche Cayennes. We arrived at Dave’s apartment on the Corniche, or the waterfront. Stretched before us was the Persian Gulf, or the Arabian Gulf as they call it. The former adjective, I learned, connoted Iranian ownership. At night I could scarcely tell the color or tide of the ocean, but it seemed placid.

We walked to the Capital Hotel restaurant for dinner. Most of the western restaurants are in hotels. This one had a South African cover band that tried mightily at several popular tunes. I found them depressing. Why would you spend your life copying someone else’s work in a Middle Eastern dive? Dave and Steve instructed me to keep my eyes low, for this place, as with the other Western hangouts, was full of prostitutes. Indeed, as we entered, swarms of Filipinos and Russians could be seen at the bar. We repaired to a corner table and placed orders. I asked for nothing but a small salad, as my stomach was performing jumping jacks. After the meal, we returned to Dave’s place where I, exhausted, collapsed into bed. I slept well, save for the 4:30AM call to prayer that stirred me. I stood by the window listening to the choral tones drifting across the city and realized that I was a long, long way from Atlanta.

Written by Spence

September 27th, 2005 at 11:53 am

Posted in UAE

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