As I write this I am back in Dubai International Airport, laptop balanced on my knees, with several hours to go before my next flight, which takes me to Istanbul, arriving early tomorrow morning. I am really looking forward to seeing Istanbul, as I have never been before.
After snowboarding yesterday I was met by new friends Jeff and Socorro, who had found my “ALife4Sale” website back in June, and had followed developments from then. When they discovered that I was heading to Dubai, they offered to show me around Abu Dhabi too, which is about 150 kilometres along the coast, and is another one of the seven Emirates, which make up the United Arab Emirates.
So Jeff and Socorro were my first internet friends who I have met on this trip, and they were wonderfully hospitable. They took me out for a drive around Abu Dhabi, and we then went to their favourite little Indian restaurant for a very spicy dinner.
Their villa, just out of the main city area of Abu Dhabi was very spacious (it had to be – they had eight cats!), although they described it as small, and when they showed me some of the other homes in the area, I could see why they called it small.
Jeff and Socorro are from the US and Mexico respectively, and Jeff works in the petrol industry for ADNOC, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as a lecturer in the Petrol Institute.
Today Socorro and I spent the day looking around Abu Dhabi. Like Dubai, it is an amazing place, growing at a fantastic pace, as skyscrapers line the coast as far as the eye can see. The economy, fuelled by huge oil reserves, is powering ahead, and the most fantastic creations are being built.
There are enormous new islands being created offshore, where hundreds of high rise apartment buildings are being built. Apparently the apartments are snapped up almost as soon as they are released for sale, for millions of dollars.
The size of the projects is beyond comprehension, and every shopping centre is filled with sales people displaying fantastical models of the forthcoming homes.
I just cannot grasp where all the people are going to come from to live in them. It would appear from the little that I saw that there is enough accomodation being planned to house the whole population of Australia several times over! Well, almost! The scale of it all is just staggering!
We took a boat trip out to Lulu Island, which apparently didn’t exist at all a few years ago. The island is huge, and a fleet of buses, and a small touristy train take visitors around the empty desert-like expanses to newly created swimming beaches. On the boat back a contractor involved in designing and creating the island told us to enjoy it while we could, it would be closed in a few weeks and the construction of more new high-rise resorts would begin in earnest.
Thank youso much Jeff and Socorro, what a great tour! I saw and learned so much more than I could have ever hoped to have done as a solo tourist! And I also have a much greater appreciation of the scale of developments here, although am still completely amazed and mystified by it all!!