Just a short note from Abu Dhabi International Airport, located just outside the richest city in the world!
After landing late at Abu Dhabi International Airport after an exhausting trip from first Williamstown in Massachusetts in a car – it took seven hours to reach Philadelphia, and from there two hours flying to Chicago and than an additional 16 hours to Abu Dhabi- I figured the city would be similar, if not as expansive, as Dubai. A city free of an Arab soul and a kind of fantasy city of spectacular man made structures. And Abu Dhabi is considered to be the richest city in the world. But I realized already on the way into Cristal Hotel, who are hosting us, that Abu Dhabi was more like a mixture of Oman and Dubai, somewhere in between. It is much more modest. We are invited to the city since their biggest newspaper published an article about the Expedition. (Read more here!)
It feels good being back in the Gulf-Arab World. Climate is as good as it could be, not to hot, not too cold, just perfect and life isn´t as fast, demanding and predictable. And this my 9th visit to this part of the world might turn out the most decisive ever when it comes to the Arabian Expedition. I am heading for Oman for two very important lectures and meeting some sponsors who really fit into what the Expedition needs to build these important bridges between the east and west. But, I am not there yet and I have just returned from a bit of a stroll through the heart of Abu Dhabi and my first reflexion is that is much more lively than both Oman and Dubai. And most people you meet are Asian immigrants, mainly resting in the parks, talking and socializing, this Friday, which is the day of rest in the Muslim world. They´re mainly Pakistanis, Indians and Filipinos. Which isn´t odd, considering that almost 75% of the total population of around 2 million inhabitants are immigrants. And many of them are worried right now, due to the economic problems in Dubai. The taxi driver from the airport told us that the traffic congestions have doubled since December, when Dubai hit the economic wall, and that immigrants from Dubai where trying their luck in Abu Dhabi now. They are desperate to survive. Once I get to Oman, I will write a report on an immigrant family who worries a lot what will happen to them. They have asked me to come and stay with them. In the meantime, do read this very sad article about immigrants in Dubai! The situation could be similar in Abu Dhabi. Suddenly, whilst writing here in Abu Dhabi, I just feel I do prefer Oman to these two emirates, since the Omanis are in majority in their country and you deal with them every day and in every way.
But, if the expedition doesn´t get the backing we want from Oman, I would easily consider Abu Dhabi to be an alternative. It has a sound Arab base, you see emiratees everywhere and they have kind of a very good mixture between the Arab and the Western world. And after having a couple of meetings here, there´s definitely a lot of interest from this little Emirate!
Keep in touch to see how it all goes…..plane to Oman just arrived!
By the way, the article about the Expedition in the National came with an editorial, read here!