Abu Dhabi is same same but different compared to Dubai. Or at least that’s how I experienced it. In the taxi there – one long ride on a motorway, straight as an arrow. Every five minutes we passed a mosque. When the muezzin calls to prayer, the mosque must be so close that every faithful can make it to prayer before the call finishes.
We lived privately with my friend who now lives there with her consultant husband and their children. She has a job (not many of the “wives” have a job in Abu Dhabi) as teacher at the woman university. Oh my, I just can’t believe what it’s like to teach a class full of women in black black black, veils too. It’s possible though, says my friend.
The MAN in Abu Dhabi is this guy:
Sheik Khalifa al Zayed is the son of The Nation’s Father and seems to be a somewhat more sensible ruler than his counterpart in Dubai. Education, nature preservation and ART are some of the important issues on his agenda. The maddest, craziest, loveliest project is Saadiyat Island, where, in a few years’ time, more art will be on display in the smallest space than ever before. Louvre, British Museum and Guggenheim, door to door. Read about it here (official web page).
There’s also an “entertainment island”, called Yas Island. One of the attractions there is Ferrari World and a Formula One track. In the middle of the track is the Yas Hotel. A design jewel with wonderful restaurants. However, I wouldn’t like to stay there when the racing is on.
All this is made possible by underpaid and overworked immigrant workers from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc. etc. They are transported in ugly run-down busses to their workplace in the early morning and they are picked up again at dusk. At the time we were there, the climate was merciful to hardworking people. However, they work in the summer too, when it’s 50 degrees Celsius in the shade. They don’t work in the shade.
It’s hard to think of much beside or above the events in Egypt. If it’s not at the forefront of your mind, take a moment, close your eyes and imagine this huge country, smack in the centre of the Middle East, with a democratically elected government! If you, like me, believed all the propaganda you’ve heard about the Muslim Brotherhood, take a moment to read about them here, here and here. I can’t say that I agree with them in many of their view points, but they certainly aren’t what many rightwing politicians have so successfully tried to tell us, Al Qaidaish madmen who wish to take Egypt back to the Middle Ages. So – even if they win an election, there’s little risk that Egypt will be another Iran. Imagine the whole of the Right without their eternal argument that Israel must be supported in every way because it’s the only democracy in the Middle East. If you wish to REALLY follow the development in Egypt, some media are a lot better than others! Huffington Post (now sold to AOL?!?!) covers it well, as does Al Jazeera. Several of the correspondents from international newspapers currently in Cairo, tweet. By far the best method to follow the development as it unfolds is to find one of these and follow him or her on Twitter.
OK, there are other things happening in the world, most of which seem to pass me by at the moment. I’m going on holiday and feel most deserving of leisure and luxury. My husband’s company is hosting a corporate event in Dubai – as you do – and spouses are invited. I picture myself poolside with a book and half an eye on junior, playing in the pool. Let’s see what it’s really going to be like. After the corporate event we go on to Abu Dhabi to visit a dear friend who has lived there the past few years. I lost a Twitter-follower because I tweeted that many of the Westerners who choose to go and work there do it for money. I know a few people who have gone there or contemplated going because they got fabulous job offers (an architect, a doctor, a consultant), which they for various reasons couldn’t turn down. But I know and know of many more people who go there because there’s NO tax and super-cheap domestic help and giant golf courses. It isn’t quite the same as going to New York, Maputo or Bruxelles, is it?
Besides the really important stuff like politics and holidays there are few things that will enrage me as the entertainment industry and all the barriers they put up around their precious content. Not to mention their whining. Ugh. The other people here at my office know the range of swear-words I’ll fire off when I come across some content that I can’t move from one device to another because of all these stupid barriers or when I want to buy something and am told that “this content isn’t available in your territory”. Argh. The music industry has had more than 20 years to figure out what to do about the digitisation of content and they STILL haven’t figured it out. They spend all their money on lawyers and precious little on developing new ways to make money, but foremost an easy and fair way to pay for content. I believe that most people are ready to pay for content if it’s easy (EASY!) to access, easy to pay and easy and fair to handle once you “own” it.
On FTM (FollowTheMedia) I’ve read an article (and paid for it!!) on the latest developments. Something very interesting is under way from the Pirate Bay people. Stay tuned!
Before I fly off to the Arabic desert I’ll leave you with a few sweet tit-bits. Here’s a company that says We Are What We Do and try to help us with that. Making charity more palatable for us spoiled first-worlders. Check this tweet-towel. Oh, what a must-have for Tweeters. There must be some sort of cross-over you can do with a charity? Speaking of Twitter, here’s why you should probably have a Twitter account even if you don’t have time to tweet.