Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ma'Sallama Abu Dhabi

After five and a half years in Abu Dhabi and 5 years writing this blog, it is time to say goodbye. I have decided it is time to move back to the UK and get back to some normality and my family (they are not normal :-) ). I quit my job in the early part of December, so I have had a nice few weeks de-stressing. Next week I fly back to the UK and start a new job for the company I worked for here in the UAE for 5 years, with the same boss who moved back home last year.

As I reflect on my time here in the UAE I will leave with some very happy memories, with some great new friends and some experiences I will never forget. Working in the UAE is no cake walk. The stress and exhaustion I have experienced has been unparallelled and was the main reason for going home. I have reached a burn-out point and feel I need to regain some balance and normalcy again. Abu Dhabi is a great place to live (well, except for the summer!), but for westerners it is in many ways alien, strange and frustrating. I have tried to embrace the culture and always accept that I am a guest in their country, so I respect their way of doing things, their laws, their norms. But the feeling that you are only one finger gesture away, or one wrong word to the wrong person away from jail, when you think about it, is a stress you don't need.

So I return to the UK looking forward to seeing family (especially my grandson Alfie) and my friends again. If only for a short while, I will enjoy the cold, wind and rain and snow - and also the greeness, trees and wildlife.

Whilst I will not be writing any more entries on the blog, I will leave it up for viewing. Although my up to date knowledge will soon diminish, I am happy to field enquiries about anything you have seen on the blog or anything in general about living or working in the UAE. Many things will change in Abu Dhabi in the coming years, but some things I'm sure will never change.

To those of you that have regularly read the blog, I thank you for your interest. I have been pleased that so many people have been able to enjoy the entries. Below is a screenshot I just took of the stats from when I started the blog...

Above all else though, this blog will be a lasting account of an amazing time of my life here in Abu Dhabi, for me to look back at. The first 3 years or so, has already been printed into a hardback book for keeping, so now I need to print volume two!

So it just remains for me to say farewell, Ma'Sallama ...


New Year's Eve - Gangsta's Paradise !

Last night I saw in the new year at a party held in a huge villa here in Abu Dhabi. It was an awesome venue , which included a bar (with a barman), a pool room, outside space with a swimming pool area - with music provided by a DJ. The guys who share the villa play in a band, which also performed at stages through the night (a rogue trumpet player was seen towards the end of the night too! ;-) ). We had good company, good food and enjoyed a great night welcoming in 2014.

 The venue

American occupants as you may guess

The awesome bar!

Pool area

Other pool area!

 ...and the band played on...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lost in translation...

Another classic from the Al Reef sales site...

...I think you'd be better off with a doctor honey...

(Sorry the pic is so small, something to do with the screenshot)

Friday, November 29, 2013

What's in a (street) name?

Further to my last post on the new street signage in Abu Dhabi , it has been announced that a number of major roads will be renamed in Abu Dhabi. It looks like they are doing away with the road numbering system too, which I think is a shame because it really is the easiest way to find your way around (even numbers East to West and odd numbers North to South). The numbers make a grid system similar to New York or Milton Keynes (H & V roads), so places can be easily referenced as e.g. on the corner of 4th and 19th (Muroor Rd and Saada St - aaghh, see below, now Sultant bin Zayed First Street and Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street....doesn't quite trip off the tongue quite the same does it!?)

Anyway, below are the changes and a short explanation courtesy of The National (full article here).

Fatima Bint Mubarak Street (6th Street, popularly known as Al Najda Street)

“The Mother of the Nation” and the wife of Sheikh Zayed, Sheikha Fatima is the chairman of the Family Development Foundation, head of the General Women’s Union and a sponsor of numerous organisations in the UAE and overseas

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street (Al Salam Street, Street 9)

Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1966 until 2004 and the first President of the UAE. The street named in his honour is the main highway into the capital and crosses the Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Khalifa Bin Zayed First Street (Khalifa Street, Street 3)

The eldest son of Zayed the First, often known as Zayed the Great, who died in 1909. Sheikh Khalifa refused to become Ruler of Abu Dhabi twice, in 1909 and 1912, but later assisted in the succession of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Sultan bin Zayed First Street (4th Street or Muroor Road)

Father of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Shakhbut and the fourth son of Sheikh Zayed the First. Ruler from 1922-1926

Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street (Al Saada Street, Street 19)

Became Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1928, stepping down in favour of his younger brother, Sheikh Zayed in 1966. Under his rule, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in 1958, ensuring the country’s prosperity after the economic hardships of the previous three decades

Mubarak bin Mohammad Street (26th Street)

Father of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture Youth and Social Development. Sheikh Mubarak was the former Minister of the Interior and the grandson of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed the First. He died in 2010

Salama bint Butti Street (23rd Street)

The mother of Sheikh Zayed, of Al Hamed family and Al Qubaisi tribe. A major influence on her sons, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Shakhbut

Al Bateen Street (32nd Street)

Now perhaps best known for the Intercontinental Hotel, Al Bateen was once a fishing village and boat building community distinct from Abu Dhabi. It was eventually swallowed by the city in the 1970s

Al Dhafra Street (25th Street)

The desert interior of Abu Dhabi, with Madinat Zayed, the home of Al Dhafra football club, as the main population centre. Each year, Al Dhafra Festival sees thousands of camels from the region compete for around Dh46 million in prizes. Al Dhafra is also home to an airbase and the Shams solar power station, the largest of its kind in the world

Dhafeer Street (31st Street)

Now on the outskirts of Liwa, Dhafeer Fort is one of a chain of fortifications in the Western Region and was built by the Bani Yas, one of the Emirate’s main tribes

Dihan Street (21st Street)

Another old name for Abu Dhabi. The name may also be descriptive, with another Dihan found in Ras Al Khaimah

Mawgab Street (27th Street)

Mawgab is a fort built on the orders of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed, the father of Sheikh Zayed and located in one of the villages in the Liwa known as Mahather. The area is low lying, circular in shape and had only one entrance, making it easier to defend

Rabdan Street (29th Street)

The celebrated mount of Sheikh Zayed the First, Rabdan was gift from the Sharif of Mecca, Abdullah bin Hashem, and said to be descended from the horse of the Prophet Muhammed. Rabdan was the subject of several poems, with his bloodline is still present in horses ridden by the Nahyan family.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Spot the difference...

My letter in The National today...

My email to the letters editor....

 Neil Roberts
Rainfall causing school closures


I have to say I am a bit bemused by the decision to close schools due to heavy rainfall. Why are children at risk at school just because it is raining? Surely it is more risky asking their parents to collect them and drive them home at the height of the storm. If in fact they went home at their normal time, the weather was actually a bit calmer and would have been safer. On another note, your reporting (UAE weather: Traffic chaos as strong winds and rain lash the Emirates, November 21, 2013) suggested that "Heavy downpours caused several accidents…" . No. People driving like idiots in heavy downpours cause accidents.


Neil Roberts
Abu Dhabi