I haven't updated in a while but I left the hotel and am waiting for for my visa before I can sign up for my internet connection. I tried to use other people's wireless, but everyone in the building seems to have their wireless secured (bastards!) In the past few days I've moved into my apartment and had it filled up as much as we've had time for and visited friends that we already knew here. I've been saying hi to the people in the building and catching up with friends that I haven't seen for over five years.
Also, I've been making new friends. It seems that there's a pretty good triathlon scene here. While in Japan I got into the Abu Dhabi Triathlon group on Yahoo. Yesterday, I called someone whose number I got in Japan and was able to meet the group for a swim pretty close to where I live. It's the meeting point for running, swimming, and cycling on Friday and Saturday (the weekend here in the U.A.E). The guy who picked me up introduced me to a bunch of people who have offered to get my bike set up and were really helpful. My pedals on my bike somehow didn't make it and I had several offers to give me a spare pair.
We started the swim at 7:00 a.m. in bathwater warm, extremely salty, sky-blue water (I didn't take any pictures but I WILL get some pics of THAT). There were about 20 people from various countries who were here doing various professions: lawyers, pilots, waste management specialists, teachers, ice show performers, a little bit of everything. There were two swims going on: the 1.5 kilometer and the 2.4 kilometer swim. I thought it would be half and half but out of the 20, I was one of 3 who decided to be cautious and go for the short course (along with one of the hung-over guys). it was really courteous and friendly with everyone stopping at various points to make sure everyone was doing OK.
After the swim, a few of us went to a local coffee shop about two blocks from my apartment and hung out for about an hour. I little later Clint, the guy who picked me up for the swim, showed me the only good bike shop in Abu Dhabi then dropped me off at my place.
I know this post doesn't really have a lot to do with living in an Arab country. However, I think it is important to give a feel for the foreign community here, especially considering that 80% of the population in the U.A.E is foreign. I felt like everyone was immediately welcoming and supportive.