KB and I returned from Jordan yesterday and she stayed in Dubai to catch an early flight home this morning. I now wake up in Abu Dhabi, in the flat of my father's childhood friend. To meet up with the legendary man about whom my dad has told stories since I was child, about their childhood mischiefs and adulthood philosophies, is quite a treat for me. In typical Arab fashion, we stayed up late last night drinking tea and talking about politics and religion.
Abu Dhabi is around 160 km from Dubai, which took about 2 hours with the traffic. The island city is the largest and the capital of the seven Emirates. It is modern, but in a more sensible and aesthetically pleasing way than Dubai. There is the obligatory skyline of tall buildings lining the waterfront, but there are well thought out promenades along the beach with unobstructed views of the Gulf of Arabia. The former emir of Abu Dhabi loved palm trees, I am told, so the streets and waterfronts are lined with endless date palms that bear fruit in summertime. Like its sister, Abu Dhabi has its share of manmade islands and grand developments but, in a strange bout of irony, one of the soon-to-be-islands will be a nature reserve for the Arabian elk. Perhaps it is that Abu Dhabi feels less plastic and artificial than Dubai that I find it more appealing.
One of my many cousins, who I haven't seen in 10 years, is teaching at a university here in Abu Dhabi, so tonight will be my chance to meet his wife and kids for the first time.
This is a great way to wrap up an otherwise really educational and enjoyable trip.