Usually I like my deserts to have casinos conveniently placed, thus avoiding being outside for any length of time, gambling is a Don't. The United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country, some behaviour is frowned upon or forbidden; alcohol, cigarettes, open displays of affection, offensive language, spitting, stealing. A definite Do is dressing appropriately in public places as is respecting other cultures. Now, I'm not religious in any way, but I agree with much of this and yes, I appreciate that there are many laws and treatment of individuals that are debatable in the UAE, but this is not the place to discuss that. It must be said however, that I'm proactive on the alcohol and cigarettes front!
Walk into any British city centre on a Friday night and it would be an Emirati's worse nightmare, mine too. You'll find a large amount of drunk people, dressed inappropriately not only in a sexual context, but also for the weather conditions! They'll be swearing, spitting, being sick in the street, after that a quick grope or a fondle in a shop doorway! Of course, you took a gamble when you parked your car, because you'll make your way back to it only to find it's been stolen. When I was younger there was respect, things were different, the men had tattoos and the women wore earrings, somehow that seems to have been reversed! I digress, so let's move on by saying that the UAE welcomes tourists, the Emirati's are both extremely tolerant and polite people, I applaud them for that and only wish their attitude was adopted by others throughout this turbulent world of ours.
One thing important to me is photography and my fascination in particular with Street Photography. The UAE population is chiefly made up of Migrant Workers, they make up something like 87% of the inhabitants. Not much point in clicking them, to start with 100,000 of them are British migrants and I see plenty of them at home. My only real interest would be the indigenous Emirati's and they don't like being photographed, especially the women. Consequently there's very little in the way of Street or Candid here, so we have a mixed bag of photographs which I hope you won't find too tiresome. Here's a couple taken at that photographers favourite, the airport:
Then we have the holiday photos, children at the pool etc. The guy throwing Louis in the air is Sam's friends brother by the way, not some random person fed up with his tantrums ;-) Two reasons on our decision to visit Abu Dhabi, firstly it was cheaper than the standard British kids holiday destinations of Greece or Spain and secondly Sam's best friend lives there, we met up with her on a couple of occasions.
I have to say the food was superb and the drink flowed rather well considering the rules. Worth remembering that a Gin & Tonic will cost £20 and a bottle of beer £9.00, an incentive to throttle back somewhat!
Meanwhile back in the room; every evening for an hour Sam went all business like, earning us some much needed money to pay for the Gin & Tonics whist the children played or watched some TV. I spent all of that time either applying various lotions to my heat rash and sunburn, or taking photos, none of which quite worked! Years ago I would go on holiday and SunFactor 4 was fine, now it's Factor 30 or 50. The sun is strong and it's hot, after all it's to be expected, we were in a desert climate.
Our hotel was situated outside of the city, I wanted to get in and have a look around. So we grabbed a taxi which are extremely cheap (reflecting the fact that it's an oil rich country). Our friends who live in Abu Dhabi told me that many taxi drivers sleep in their cabs overnight, they earn very little, so with that in mind I was extra generous with the tip. It's interesting driving into the city on those huge 5 Lane Highways, with the skyscrapers looming ever larger, you could be almost anywhere in the world - somehow it reminded me of Dallas. We visited the Central Market, which has a Souk, thankfully air conditioned. The heat in the city is tremendous and even the taxi driver felt sympathy for those that had to work outside. It was around 36c, in summertime it's more like 45c. I left these photos in colour in the hope that the feeling of heat radiates:
A must see is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it can hold over 40,000 worshippers and built using materials from around the globe. I would have liked a sunset visit, with time to shoot the outside, but we were there as a family so I grabbed what shots I could. Again things are strict, as you would expect in any religious building. The security entrance is interesting, woman enter one side , men the other. Both Sam and I were wearing similar clothing, jeans and t-shirt. I was good to go, Sam had to cover up with the necessary gear provided. I saw a couple taking a selfie with their arms around each other and also a woman taking another selfie where her headscarf had slipped revealing her hair; in both instances the iPhone was taken off them and the images deleted! Rules are rules, and they're adhered to.
We also visited a Zoo, mainly so the children could have a camel ride; I won't post anymore holiday snaps though, even I'm getting bored so the last three images are simply scenes that caught my eye -
Definitely worth a visit to Abu Dhabi. Would I go back again? Possibly not, but never say never. Personally I would have liked to see a lot more of the culture, but with children in tow all they really want to do is spend all day in the pool and that's a wise decision because it's bloody hot! We just had a snow flurry whilst sitting writing this, ah, British Springtime...perhaps I might return!
A couple more Do's and Dont's - Don't forget that clicking on any thumbnail image will enlarge it. Do leave a comment, I'm always delighted to hear from you.
All photos were taken using a Leica M with 50mm Noctilux.