Same same but different

Monday, 21 February 2011, 22:02 | Category : travel
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The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi.

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.

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