Monday, February 10, 2014

Return to Abu Dhabi

I have returned to Abu Dhabi after a 2 1/2 month long sojourn to the US.   Because this country is changing so rapidly, even a few weeks away one finds a multitude of changes has taken place during the absence.  This trip was no exception.

Some of the changes I noted:

The massive road construction project about three blocks from my house looks completed but the new roads are not open yet.  And my husband tells me the amount of traffic turning into the one way service road the wrong way has increased substantially.  Unfortunately the new construction is doing away with a popular intersection that leads into our neighborhood.   A service road has been constructed running parallel to the main thoroughfare which happens to be one way ---out of the neighborhood.  Every morning my husband meets three or four drivers heading the wrong way---the new intersection is much farther down the road so going up the one way street is a short cut into the neighborhood.  He attempted to play chicken a few times trying to hold his ground and finally gave up the fight.  Too many cars are breaking the rules.  So he just moves to the right and makes the road a two lane!   Such is the life.

The garbage bins have been replaced by new recycle bins---one for regular waste and another for recyclables.  This is a first in the UAE.  I am so glad to see this initiative.  Although I observed on my morning walks that no one is using them properly.  I think I am the only person in the neighborhood saving my plastic and paper and putting in the recyclable bin.

The gym added a couple of new high-tech pieces of equipment.  I especially like the new treadmill that has a video screen on the panel where you can watch a video of an area as you are running.  For instance, I played the video for the run on Haleakala on Maui.

 The views are breathtaking and the video takes you all the way to the summit.  I chose this one because I have been to the summit to watch the sun rise and then cycled down the mountain.  Click on the link to see the sunrise.  Spectacular!

Abu Dhabi is finally getting street names and building numbers!!!!!  After a couple of years reading about the project and the impending numbering of building and getting actual postal addresses, it is finally here!  The signs are going up in the city.  Not sure if the buildings are numbered yet but I love the new street signs.
 Also not sure if people will know how to use them.  It will be hard to change old habits……… "I want to go to XYZ store.  It's on Electra (also known as 7th Street and Sheikh Zayed the First Street), next door to Patchi and opposite Al Safad Restaurant near the intersection at the Skateboard building with the BMW dealership on the ground floor and KFC opposite the dealership")  Get the picture?  It would be easier to say XYZ store at 2020 7th Street.  But who will know how to get there now?

The weather is beautiful, and we have had some rain----which only happens a few times a year.  I took a photo of the cloudy skies the other day just because it is such a rare occurrence.  It was followed by rain (really a slight drizzle which reminds me of the rain in Hawaii).  Then, yesterday it really rained.  I actually turned on my windshield wipers.  Unfortunately, people do not know how to drive in rain.  It sort of freaks them out.  One person will be going 20 mph and another will be flying by clearly not aware of the dangers of wet roads that have no drainage system.  Accidents abound on rainy days.

Completed Residence 
A couple of new houses are going up in my neighborhood.  These were empty lots when I left a few months ago.  And then other houses that have been under construction for a long, long time are finally finished.

A new Mosque is going up near our house and the Minaret is now standing tall against the skyline. Will be interesting to hear the call to prayer again when this mosque is complete.  We do not have a
mosque close by our house, and we actually miss hearing the call to prayer every day.  Some times in the early morning or late evening when the neighborhood is still, we can hear the call to prayer off in the distance at a mosque in a distant neighborhood.  When we lived in the city, a mosque was only a few doors down so we heard the prayer call all day every day.  There was always something strangely comforting about it.

The Abu Dhabi International Airport has new taxis now.  The new taxis are more like a first class limousine service in a van.  They also have taxis equipped for the handicap and elderly, which is much needed in the area.

And then  some things never change……….

The crazy driving!  The crazy parking!  The roads full of construction!  The new buildings going up everywhere!

Such an experience to live in this part of the world!

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