Abu Dhabi Letters

01
Mar
2014

Letters From Abu Dhabi

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

susan_on_great_wall_med.jpgI moved to Abu Dhabi from my native Canada (with my then-husband Bob), in 1993.

Over the course of the next 10 years, I wrote letters to family and friends around the world from my new home in the Middle East. I also documented some of our trips to interesting destinations.

I’m re-publishing the letters here, as and when I get a chance to edit them (see links below).

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28
Feb
2014

Getting Here

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

October 5, 1993

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

We've been here a little over a month and I'm finally getting around to writing the newsletter I promised ya'll back in Canada and other faraway places.  I hope this will be the first in a series, subsequent copies of which will be delivered to those who reply in some way to this inaugural issue.

Before I tell you about Abu Dhabi, let me take a step back and fill you in on our week in the Netherlands at the end of August...

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27
Feb
2014

Hot as Hades

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

October 10, 1993

Abu Dhabi, UAE

We deplaned in Abu Dhabi around midnight on September 1 after a nine-hour flight.  Walking into the 40 C heat was like walking into a brick wall.  As we made our way through the duty free, the passport clearance, and customs, I felt certain the airport air conditioning must not be working.

Then we stepped outside...

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26
Feb
2014

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

December 1, 1993
Abu Dhabi, UAE

HO! HO! Hope you're enjoying the snow!

Those of you in Canada should be knee deep in the fluffy stuff by the time you get this if a white Christmas is in the cards.  Although, I can remember many a Christmas when the snow held off 'til the last minute, and even a few when we didn't see any until the gift giving and turkey dinner were only memories.

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25
Feb
2014

Driven to Distraction (Part 1)

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

December 27, 1993
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Let me see. Where did I leave off the last time…? Ah yes, driving.

Driving is a dangerous sport in the UAE. Venture out onto the roads and you take your life into your hands. No kidding.  In the last three days I've seen as many accidents while I'm out and about.  The other night I was sitting out on the balcony reading, when I heard the screech of brakes from the road that runs past our building...

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24
Feb
2014

Driven to Distraction 2

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

December 29, 1993
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Most (i.e. about 90%) of the vehicles on the road here are late models in very good condition.  You never see an “old beater,” they're not allowed.

Every second or third car is a Mercedes or BMW, and there are tons of four-wheel drives (Range Rovers, Nissan Patrols, etc,).  We also see a smattering of Audis, Legends, and assorted sport cars.

This weekend in Sharjah we parked next to a Ferrari Testosterone - oops, I mean Testarossa.

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23
Feb
2014

Traditional Roles

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

LAD 8
January 11, 1994
Abu Dhabi, UAE

When we decided to move here, I had hoped that we would get to know and befriend some of the local people.  So far that’s proving to be a challenge, for a number of reasons. 

First, less than twenty per cent of the population of the UAE comprises UAE nationals – the most recent figure I've seen is 16 per cent; 84 per cent consists of expatriate workers

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23
Feb
2014

Driven to Distraction 3

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

December 30, 1993
Abu Dhabi, UAE

None of the Abu Dhabi maps, or the city's residents, use the aforementioned numbering system. 

Instead, they use both 'official' and 'unofficial' names - neither of which bear any relationship to the zones, sectors or street numbers used by the street system signs.

Sometimes the official and/or unofficial street name will be posted at an intersection, sometimes not.  None of the buildings have numbers; all business addresses are post office boxes.

It's all very confusing for newcomers...

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22
Feb
2014

Language & Culture

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

LAD 7
January 4, 1994
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Asalaamo aleikum!

For the non-Arabic speakers amongst you that means: peace be upon you!  Asalaamo aleikum is the usual greeting for all occasions here; the correct response is: wa aleikum salaam which means "and peace be upon you also."

I haven't taken an Arabic course yet - I went to enroll before Christmas and found out that the course ran Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. from November 16 to December 29, which would have put a real crimp in our weekends and party time over the festive season, so I decided to see what they have to offer in March.

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21
Feb
2014

A Different Kind Of Workaday World

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters

LAD 9
January 29, 1994
Abu Dhabi, UAE

I haven't found a job yet, but I have a couple of irons in the fire, and I’m doing the odd freelance project for a local public relations and advertising firm.

I applied for a position (Head of Information Section), with the Abu Dhabi Seaport Authority, and have been for two interviews, and an equal number of examinations in the past two weeks.

The job was advertised in mid-September, they called me for the first interview three weeks later.  I'm the only female candidate for the position, along with six men (I know who the competition is because we all had to write a test at the same time).

They're also considering me for the 'lower' position of public relations supervisor, for which I’m the lone female candidate on a ‘short list’ of 13.

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30
Jan
2009

A Wadi We Go!

Categories // Abu Dhabi Letters


I think I mentioned that we’ve been camping, and promised to fill you in on the details later.  Well, we had a wonderful overnight trip, and have been back on the road a couple of times since.  I've included a map so you can all follow our past, present and future travels throughout the Emirates and Oman.

I expect we'll be doing quite a bit of exploring over the next year or two so you may want to keep the map for future reference…

We made our first overnight trip in December just across the Omani border.  We didn't have to go through any border checkpoints, even though we ventured quite far into another country. Our destination, Wadi Hamad, is about 25 kilometers from the UAE border just east of Al Ain, the other major city in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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