Abu Dhabi Weather

Friday, July 30, 2010


Anyone who knows me knows how much I love going out and trying new restaurants. I'm always in for a bit of the local flavor. That's why when I came to Abu Dhabi, I was excited to see the variety of restaurants and to try them all. Rather than go though each of the different styles of restaurant and describe the local cuisine, I'll just give a list of some of my favorites and let those in the area try them for themselves.

There's McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts, Subway, Burger King, Sbarro, Krispy Kreme, Chili's, TGIFriday's, among others. There are also world class cafes like Starbucks. Lest you think I'm just trying the big names, there's an inexpensive Lebanese restaurant near my apartment where we go which I'm sure is a chain of some sort, but is a great place to get schwarma.

In all seriousness, I don't go out to eat that much but from what I hear, there are some wonderful restaurants in Abu Dhabi of any type of world cuisine that you could hope to eat. If you are honestly interested in restaurants in Abu Dhabi then a good place to look is Time Out Abu Dhabi. They review a lot of local places and have good things to say about them.

For those of you who wanted to hear about Ramadan for "R", I was going to write about that until I realized that I already posted about it in detail. If you would like to read that post, click here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My side of town is relatively quiet when compared to the rest of Abu Dhabi. We're on the side of town without major traffic or a lot of road construction. There are some buildings being put up around me, but I don't really hear the noise from that in my apartment. Occasionally, there will be some sort of event like an outdoor concert on the beach a block or two away. Usually those sorts of things are scheduled on the weekends, but they also spill over until late Saturday night, the night before most people start their workweek.

With all that in mind, the worst of the noise comes from various celebrations, usually due to some soccer victory. On these occasions, it's impossible to sleep with all of the horns honking, engines revving until they backfire and just general shouting. Here is a link to a video to give you a short idea of what it's like. This video is actually from UAE National Day which went on for three days but it's very similar to what happens around my apartment when there's any sort of major sporting victory. Or holiday. Or when a group of young guys just feel like being noisy at 2:00 in the morning.

Monday, July 26, 2010


For a desert, Abu Dhabi has a lot of green space. Most of the major thoroughfares have green spaces alongside them with playground equipment and barbecue facilities. As mentioned a few days ago, people will go to the parks starting from the early evening in Abu Dahbi. They are a wonderful place for people to socialize when the weather is nice (read that: from October to early April). Because there are so many around, you can often just pull your car over to the side of the road and find a place to take your kids to play.
The unfortunate thing is that they're not very well maintained. Some of the larger parks in the center of town have some wonderful equipment, but when you get closer, you see whole platforms missing on little mini forts and other maintenance issues that make it impossible to sit back and relax while your kids go play on the slide.

This is of course contrasted with the amazing landscaping with the immaculately manicured grass, trees and bushes. You will always see workers keeping the park looking nice. I mentioned the broken playground equipment to one of them once just to see what would happen (I knew what would happen) and the man nodded when I pointed out the obviously faulty and dangerous slide. I'm not sure if he didn't understand or didn't care, but nothing was done. I suppose the surprise to me is that no Emiratis say anything. I'm sure that all it would take is a word from just one person and it would be fixed.

Of course, there are parks nearby that have little attractions like an air-filled bouncy slide. Sometimes these are provided free of charge and other times they are in an amusement-park midway-like atmosphere that is charging. One near our place even has pony rides. I would have to say that there are some great places outdoors to go when the weather is nice. I only wish that the city wouldn't just put up equipment then forget about it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Guess what? There's oil in Abu Dhabi. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi (which doesn't contain Dubai) has 95% of the UAE's oil and 92% of it's natural gas. That's right, Dubai may have more fancy buildings than Abu Dhabi, but who do they come to when the bill arrives? Not only that, Abu Dhabi has 9% of the world's proven oil reserves and 5% of it's proven natural gas. That's right. You want to fill up that SUV? There's a good chance that what you're putting into your vehicle came from Abu Dhabi.

Because Abu Dhabi is oil wealthy, gasoline price are slightly lower than they are in other regions of the world. That translates to bigger, oil-guzzling cars. In addition, fuel prices are set, so when there's an increase as there was a few months ago, people start complaining. The natural question is: How low is low? Recently the price per gallon went from U.S. $1.40 to U.S. $1.56. While not so cheap that you don't have to care, it's cheap enough that filling up an SUV doesn't seem so bad.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The times that I've been out after dark in Abu Dhabi durring the summer, I've noticed a lot more people out than during the day.

As you can see, from these photos, there are beautiful parks and walkways. (The photo on the right is from my friend's website, Abu Dhabi Daily Photograph. You should definitely go to his website and have a look around. His photography is way better than mine. You can also click on the link on the right side of the page to access the latest photo. The photo on the left is of one of Abu Dhabi's many parks at night. It can be found on this website. I have no idea who that guy is.) What the photos don't show are the vast number of people out after sunset.

Whole families with young children will be out until 11:00 or 12:00 at night. I've been out with my family at a park on a day when I have to work the next day and no one will be at the park despite the beautiful weather. As we're getting ready to leave around 4:30, people will start arriving with their barbecues ready to start socializing. Sometimes when driving past these places on my way home at night, I'll see the whole place packed out and cars all over the place with all of the parking taken.

Also, I'll get up to go running at 5:00 am and there will still be people around sitting in the outdoor cafes chatting. When I see that, I have a better understanding of why my students are always sleepy in their 8:00 am classes. I guess that the mystery to me is why the UAE doesn't shift its schedule to a more nocturnal one. I understand the climate makes socializing and working in the evening hours more comfortable. I have to wonder why the students and employees are required to be somewhere at 8:00 am when most people prefer to stay up until the early hours of the morning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


There sure are a lot of mosques around town. I don't live near any personally, but I can say that the architecture of some of them is wonderful. They can be something simple like a small building next to a gas station at a highway rest stop to the magnificence of the Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This extravagant building rivals the cathedrals of Europe. While non-Muslims are generally not allowed in mosques, they are allowed in this mosque. In fact, there are daily tours from 10:00 am apart from Fridays, the main day of worship.I do have to say that having done the tour with my mother last January, I got a real kick out of seeing her in the abaya (black cloak) that all women have to wear in mosques. I also enjoyed the beautiful building and found the description of Islam very informative and interesting. Because few mosques will allow non-Muslims in, I don't have much to compare with. I would say that if you are in Abu Dahbi, the Zayed Grand Mosque is a must see.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


While I've mentioned this before, it doesn't hurt to bring it up again: everyone here speaks English and if they don't, I would imagine that it is very difficult to function. The medium of instruction at all colleges and universities is English. It may seem unfair, but as I've explained to students who've asked me about why they have to study in English, when a country hires people of other nationalities to do their work for them, they need to communicate with the workers.

That's not to say that there aren't a lot of other languages floating around. At work, there's a constant flow of Arabic and French around me with a few smatterings of Turkish. In the break room I hear some languages from the Indian subcontinent that I can only guess at. On the street or in the shops among the shopkeepers, there are a number of Southeast Asian languages such as Filipino. On very rare occasions will I hear someone I don't know speaking Japanese. When that happens, my wife will make a new contact as was the case while out walking one day.

With all these languages floating around one thing remains the same. For lucky English-speaking monolinguals like me, the common language is English.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Not only is His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the ruler of Abu Dhabi, he's the ruler of the whole United Arab Emirates. In addition to this all, he has the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, named after him. I guess that's what happens when you lend the people who built it the money to finish it.

He has been the ruler of the U.A.E. since his father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nhyan died in 2004. Sheikh Khalifa has been doing a wonderful job since then.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The longer I live in Abu Dhabi, the deeper the connection between Japan and the UAE I find. Considering that the UAE exports 62% of its crude oil to Japan, you think that Japanese would be much more visible. Of course, being married to a Japanese woman means that I have a connection to the Japanese community here. While the Japanese who work for the Japanese oil company keep to themselves, they do seem to be an influence. My wife is originally from the countryside in Japan and there are enough Japanese here to warrant a Northern Kyushu social group that meets every month or two.

There are two Japanese restaurants. There is even a Daiso, a kind of Japanese dollar store. The funny thing about this is that a lot of the products they sell only have Japanese writing on them so I have to wonder who besides Japanese people or people who have lived in Japan buys any of these things. In addition, the Japanese embassy was kind enough to sponsor Nobuyuki Tsujii, a renowned Japanese concert pianist and to give away 100 tickets to his performance to Japanese registered with the embassy.

Acording to the Abu Dhabi tourism website, Etihad Airways, a major airline in Abu Dhabi, sponsored a delegation of travel agents to visit Abu Dhabi to determine it's viability as a tourist destination for Japanese. It seems that they were impressed and I may be seeing more tour groups of little old Japanese ladies being led by a guide carrying a flag and snapping pictures along the beach in the coming years.

Not only do Japanese migrate here from Japan, I've met dozens of non-Japanese here who used to live in Japan. I know almost 10 people from Fukuoka alone who are now living in the UAE. Even the editor of Time Out Abu Dhabi used to live in Fukuoka around the time I was there. It seems like the UAE is for teachers and ex-patriots what Japan was 15 or 20 years ago.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Yes, Abu Dhabi is oil rich but the thing that a lot of people find surprising is that 64% of Abu Dhabi's GDP comes from non-oil or gas sources. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) was set up in 1976 to manage surplus money from all the oil that keeps spurting out of the ground.

The interesting thing about this is at the time every other country with a surplus was investing in quick-yield, short-term investments, ADIA was investing in low-yield, long-term investments. (Here is a photo of the AIDA building taken from my friend's blog, Abu Dhabi Daily Photograph.) To this day, they're still one of the only countries investing in the long term.

So to all of you who think all the U.A.E. does is blow their money on fancy new buildings, palm-tree shaped islands, and Formula One tracks, think again. They're busy buying up residential real estate in London, New York, Chicago, Milan, Paris, Rome and Los Angeles.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Higher Colleges

The Higher Colleges of Technology refers to the network of government schools that encompasses 13 different campuses across the U.A.E. It is free for Emirati nationals to attend. They only thing that each student is required to buy is a tablet computer. Even though that in itself isn't cheap, being the only thing a student has to purchase makes it a pretty good deal.

While the Higher Colleges of Technology may be throughout all of the UAE and not just in Abu Dhabi, the first campus opened 22 years ago was Abu Dhabi Men's College, the school I work for. As far as I've been told, it's the flagship school of the Higher Colleges of technology. If you're a foreign dignitary, businessman, or academic and visiting the capital of the U.A.E., you're going to get a tour of my school. As one of my co-workers put it to me: After showing people the Emirates Palace Hotel and the Zayed Grand Mosque, what else are they going to see?

There really are a lot of amazing facilities here accessible by the students. The library has whole rows of computers, a huge plasma-screen TV, mini sound booth-like chairs for watching DVDs, and a Starbucks right in the library. If that's not enough to impress foreign dignitaries, I don't know what is.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Initially when I told people that I was moving to Abu Dhabi, most people thought I was kidding. I think for a lot of people, the name gives a connotation of being exotic while being in the middle of nowhere. One of my middle-school students said, "Hey that's where Garfield was going to send Nermal!"

For those of you who are agoraphobic, have no television, and haven't seen a newspaper comics page for the past 30 years, Garfield is the title character of a comic strip, cartoon, and two movies and can be seen stuck to the windows of minivans driven by middle aged housewives across the U.S. In this comic, there is a recurring storyline in which Garfield wants to send a cute kitten that he is jealous of to Abu Dhabi.

While it isn't necessarily a point of pride in Abu Dhabi, it has put the name on the map for
enthusiasts of mediocre comic strips. It was enough of a news item for a local newspaper to write an article about it. In the article, Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield gives his reasons for why he chose Abu Dhabi as a place of banishment. They can be summed up as: It was exotic sounding and allies with the U.S.

While Mr. Davis expressed no interest in visiting Abu dhabi, he did hint at the possibility of things to come. Look for your Garfield-themed amusement park coming to Abu Dhabi in 2020.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


With Abu Dhabi being in a desert and all you wouldn't think that there would be many fountains. You'd be wrong. While I've never been there, I imagine that it's similar to Las Vegas. Almost every intersection has a fountain on it. Lining the walkways there are fountains every 50 meters. The parks have huge fountains. There are some pretty impressive fountains everywhere you go in Abu Dhabi. It almost makes you forget the enormous cost of desalinating water.

I was hoping to get a few photographs of the dozens of fountains that are around, but due to my poor photography skills and general lame-ness, I never got any good ones. Instead, I got permission from a friend of mine who runs a terrific photography blog of various sites in the Abu Dhabi area. You can click on the links in this description to get to specific photos or click on the link on the right under "My Links."

This first photo is a picture of a fountain found on the main thoroughfare along the beach.The second photo is of a fountain in a children's park near the mainland of Abu Dhabi.
I would recommend checking out his blog to see some great pictures of Abu Dhabi and getting a feel for the scenery of the area. I would recommend continuing to read my blog for the sarcastic remarks and an occasional bit of useful information with a funny link.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


As mentioned in my previous post, some people live in Abu Dhabi for years without ever leaving the city. That's not to say that never leaving the city is necessarily a bad thing. There is so much to do here that you could stay only in the city and have a pretty fulfilling, fun time here. (Though I think the people who never leave the city tend to also never leave their apartments.) Abu Dhabi draws a lot of top tier entertainment including musicians, music festivals, sports tournaments.

There is no real shortage of things to do. When I first got here, I was determined to go to every event that was put on here. After a while, even though there were things that I was interested in, a ten-minute walk from where I live and free of charge, I still wouldn't go to them. There is almost too much to do here.

While this is by no means a complete list, for sporting events, we have had the Red Bull Race, The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (the final race in the Formula one series), the Formula One powerboat races, The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon all within view of my apartment. There has also been the Formula One cars, the Football Club World Cup (previously known as the Toyota cup in Japan and likely purchased from them for a good price), and GT1 Sports Car Series called "The Battle of the Brands". In April, Abu Dhabi hosted the UFC for the first time.

For music events, we had WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) a 10-minute walk from my apartment and free for everyone. I saw The Killers at a venue near my apartment as well. Other concerts have been Tom Jones, Aerosmith, Beyonce, Jamiroqui, The Kings of Leon, Rhianna, and Harry Connick Jr. There are also tons of world-renowned orchestras and musicians. My wife was able to get free tickets to see a famous Japanese pianist, Nobuyuki Tsujii, from the Japanese Embassy. Also, for film buffs, there was the Abu Dhabi Film Festival which featured a few world premieres.

There are other things as well. During the Abu Dhabi Gand Prix weekend, there were movies on the beach near our apartment in a drive-in theater style. In late February and early March, there was a free event called "Wakestock" in which they gave free wakeboarding lessons with guide wires along with demonstrations. I wanted to try the free wakeboarding, but just didn't have the time with the preparing for the triathlon.

All those events are great when the weather is good between October and April, but once the weather heats up, nothing compares to the event of sitting in your apartment in the air conditioning and watching DVDs.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Even though we live in a city with green lawns and shrubbery and parks, it's sometimes easy to forget that we're in the middle of a desert...sometimes. Going for a drive from city to city, the highway is lined with palm trees in the middle and in some cases you can see date palm plantations off to the side of the road. However, when you get far out into the countryside, you start to see a lot of scrub brush. When you get further from the coast there are some beautiful sand dunes.

In addition, camping in the shade of a cliff as the sun goes down and feeling the rush of the desert wind for the 30 minutes after sunset is a wonderful experience. Sitting out in the cool night air with a clear view of the stars is a relaxing way to spend an evening.

Because we live pretty far into the city, I don't have much more to say about the desert. Unfortunately, a lot of people living here have even less to say. Some people live here for years without ever leaving the city...