Abu Dhabi Weather

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eid in Jordan

With Eid beginning in the middle of the week, the UAE government decided to give all government workers the whole week off. This means that with the weekends, I got a full 9 days off. Unfortunately, my wife and kids are still in Japan and I was scheduled to pick them up in the middle of the night mid-week. Because of this, I had dismissed any notion that I could go anywhere until a friend pointed out that I could risk pissing my wife off and suggest she get a cab.

Sure enough I did that and she didn't seem too annoyed at the suggestion. I was even tentatively able to arrange for some friends to pick her and the kids up from the airport. From yesterday morning I began the journey of researching flights, hotels, and things to do in Jordan. Though calling a series of friends, coworkers and former coworkers who had traveled to Jordan, lived in Jordan, or were from Jordan, I was able to put together a fairly decent itinerary. Because I'm traveling on my own, I can travel pretty lightly and stay in minimalist accommodations. I just hope that my wife hasn't changed the locks when I get back.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Registration Renewal Failure

I had to get the registration on my Jeep renewed. Because it is Ramadan, I figured that it would be closed during the day. Since I was finishing work around 2:00 and I work near the car registration place, I would go to see what the hours were and come back when they were open. When I got there, I found that not only was it open, there were tons of cars there. Since I was already there, I thought I might as well get in line. Having been through the procedure a number of times before, I parked my car, went in to pay for the inspection and came back out to my car. After sitting in the middle line for about 15 minutes, my power brakes went out. This had never happened before, but there I was, surrounded by cars with no way to get out in line for the car inspection. I thought that since I had paid for the inspection already, that I might as well go through with it (not that I had a choice) and at least I would know if there was anything else besides the brakes that I needed to get fixed.

Thinking that the heat might have had something to do with the brakes giving out, I turned off my idling car for a few minutes hoping that the engine being off might get them working again. Regardless, I was going to need to get my car repaired, but I thought that if I could at least pass the inspection, I wouldn't have to worry about that part of the registration. After sitting in a sweltering car for a few minutes, I realized that I was going to need the air conditioning so I started the car. Only it wouldn't start. The battery which had been the one to jump start my SUV and a friend's car had finally decided that smack in the middle of the car registration line was the place to finally give up.

After some beeping from the cars behind me, another driver from the line next to me cutting in front of me, and about 10 minutes of panicked waiting, I got the car started again and figured that the overheated brakes would have to remain overheated. As I pulled up to the inspection, and handed over the car inspection paper, I wasn't really expecting my car to pass. I was just hoping it would make it through the series of inspections without conking out.

After the inspection I could tell that it failed based on the look on the inspector. I parked my car with the engine running and went inside to get the results of the tests. The results? Naturally I failed. However, the reason that I failed wasn't that I needed a new power brake cylinder or a new battery. My jeep failed because the paint on the hood and a few of the fenders was faded and didn't match that of the rest of the car. Not only did I have to get the other bits fixed, I had to have half my car repainted. Nice!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome Back

After two months of not working and enjoying life back in Wisconsin, I've returned to find my apartment floor with water from a dripping air conditioner and the water in the apartment turned off. In addition, the wind had blown both covers of my vehicles off so they were covered in sand and the truck had a dead battery. After moping up the water, calling someone to fix the air conditioner, and getting the water turned back on, I went to work on jump starting the truck. Having little experience, the first time took a while, but after jump starting a friends' car twice, I feel pretty confident in what I'm doing now.

Work has been pretty uneventful. Ramadan hours are from 9:00 until 2:00, but I don't see many people there before 10:00 anyway. Besides, because we can't eat or drink publicly, everyone sits in the break room drinking coffee or tea much of the day. There isn't much to do since we don't know our schedules and therefore don't know what classes to prepare for. Not that it would matter much if we did, because most of it would change the first few weeks after classes start. At least I have a nice easy routine to ease myself into.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The UAE has a number of zoos, many of which are supposed to be pretty good. While I haven't been there, my kids have been to the Kid's Park Zoo for school field trips. From, what I've heard, this zoo is pretty good with play areas for kids and a variety of animals.

The best zoo in the UAE isn't in Abu Dhabi city, it's in Al Ain, a city in the Emirite of Abu Dhabi. The Al Ain Wildlife Park is a great place to relax and is a pretty good zoo. They also have special exhibitions like the animatronic dinosaurs. There is a pretty good selection of wild cats like lions, cheetahs, and leopards. The less predatory animals have a free range to roam. One thing can be said for the Emiratis, they like their exotic animals.

Unfortunately, even with the great zoos in the UAE, there are a number of "private zoos" created through illegal traffickng. Many people may remember the story of the cheetah roaming the streets of Abu Dhabi from May of this year. That was a funny sort of story that made international headlines, but it wasn't an isolated case. December of 2010, a similar case happened in Sharjah, one of the northern emirites. Animal trafficking has become so prevalent in the UAE that the head of the Dubai Zoo has called for a regulatory body to crack down on the practice.

That aside, there are a lot of little mini zoos in surprising places, like Dreamland water park in Umm Al Quwain or Khalifa children's park. Sometimes there are little petting zoos outside of museums for no reason or in cultural villages. Many festivals will provide camel rides or pony rides. The Emirati cultural love of animals helps to ensure that children living in Abu Dhabi will have plenty of exposure to them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yesterday's culture

I kind of touched on this when I wrote about Liwa, but if you really want to get a feel for what the UAE and Abu Dhabi specifically were like, you need to get away from the cities.

Near Liwa, there is an annual Camel Beauty Contest right around Christmas. The purpose of this is to promote and preserve the culture. One of the criteria is "camel toe cleavage." I haven't made it out there the past two years, but hope to go this year.

Also, out in the desert near Liwa you can sometimes see guys taking out their falcons for a fly. I haven't ever been asked to try one out yet, but if you ask nicely, I'm sure they'll let you take one out for a spin.

Also, I'd like to mention the Abu Dhabi Natural History group. Shortly after we first got here we attended an event put on by them. We saw a video shown regarding the pearl diving history of Abu Dhabi. Something that we hadn't signed up for but something that I would have loved had we been equipped for was the camping on the beach followed by the pearl diving expedition the following day. This group has lectures every month with occasional camping trips or events.

Even though the cities of Abu Dhabi seem to be trying to shake the image of a nomadic culture by building as many modern structures they can, it's nice to know that there are some people that maintain the old ways.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It may be a bit of a repeat of the previous entry, but yes, the UAE likes things big. Not only is Abu Dhabi competing with the rest of the world, they're competing with Dubai. Sure they had the world's most expensive Christmas tree, but in the same hotel you can get $20 slice of cheesecake covered in gold shavings. In fact, the Emirates Palace is proud to advertise that they use five kilograms of gold a year of gold on their deserts. The UAE has the money so why not spend it?

Abu Dhabi uses an excessive amount of water, but those parks aren't green from the rain. Every day while driving to work, I can see the sprinklers watering the parks and road medians. Sure there are the ads telling people to conserve water at home, but no one really takes those things seriously, do they?

The cars that you commonly see driving the roads of Abu Dhabi are almost out of a movie, Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Lamborginis, or even a number of fancy cars with names that I don't even recognize. As for cars that would normally turn heads such as Porches, Hummers, Cadillacs or Lexus? A dime a dozen. I've been accused of being obsessed with cars by more than one person and maybe I am, but my obsession has to do with the vast amounts of money spent on flashy cars rather than any sort of appreciation for the car itself.

Even promotion has to be excessive. It is understandable for a country with such incredible wealth to want to shake the image of being a couple of tents in the middle of nowhere. This would partially explain the obsession with breaking every world record possible. Any time there is an event at the school, the administration wants to make sure that every seat is filled and the cameras and video are out in spades. Because our campus is a point of pride in the the UAE, our school library is decked out with all the biggest and latest technology for all the visiting dignitaries to see. Our school even hosts the Festival of Thinkers to promote thinking and innovation among students in the UAE with some top names among intellectual circles.

Sure there are a lot of excesses here, but for a newly formed country determined to shake off the image of a backwards settlement of nomads, they have a lot to overcome.

Monday, August 8, 2011

World Records

Not only is Abu Dhabi competing with the rest of the world, they're competing with Dubai. Nothing helps to promote a place like breaking a world record and Abu Dhabi has been working hard to ensure that it gets it's name on the map. Some of the ways in which Abu Dhabi is number one include:

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has the largest hand-stitched rug, the the largest dome of its type and, I believe, the world's most expensive and gaudy chandelier. The Emirites Palace Hotel is the world's most expensive hotel and was home to the world's most expensive Christmas tree. In addition, the Emirates Palace Hotel was the host of the sale of the world's most expensive license plate. Let's not forget the world's fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World that opened up in November 2010. Nearby there are two buildings being built that are connected by the world's highest bridge connecting two buildings, higher than the bridge connecting the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The Capital Gate is the world's furthest leaning man made tower. Visible from most of the Corniche is the former world's tallest flagpole, second only to a flagpole in North Korea. Both flagpoles are soon to be beat out by a third under construction. The company that produces these record-breaking flagpoles in located in Dubai and will only break records a meter at a time. About an hour drive from Abu Dhabi is the world's largest mobile home parked in the middle of the desert near a number of oversized novelty vehicles.

I'm sure that I'm missing a few, but those are some of the main ones I came up with. I would of course be remiss if I didn't mention a few of the world records achieved by Abu Dhabi's irresponsible little brother, Dubai.

The most obvious is the award for the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. To give the organizers credit, they didn't just break the record by a few meters or by adding a qualifier by putting up a tall antenna, they smashed the record by over a hundred meters. The world's tallest building is next to the world's largest shopping mall. The qualifier of this one is that it is the world's largest mall by total space (as opposed to leasable space of which the Dubai Mall is sixth). I'm not sure, but I'm assuming that the Burj Khalifa isn't included in that. We wouldn't want to forget about the world's largest dancing fountain on the plaza outside the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. Something else that Dubai gets a lot of press for the the world's longest indoor ski slope, located in the Mall of the Emirites. Dubai also has the world's most expensive racetrack containing the world's largest video screen (and in my opinion the world's worst five-star hotel).

Clearly, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have shown their prowess in world record breaking. It remains to be seen if can continue with this furious pace of impressing the world.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Living in Abu Dhabi has many advantages. It has been great for my family and friends having a place to stay and a tour guide to personally show them around the UAE. (For a good visitors guide, click here.) I really do welcome visitors because it's always nice to get the perspective of people I know and to show them how I live. Living in a city in a region that most people have not been to means getting loads of people coming to stay. People have had to book their stay at our place months in advance to ensure the best times (i.e. when I have off work). My mother was disappointed this past January because other friends of mine were coming at a time she wanted to.

We love having people come because it gives us the excuse to do some sightseeing of our own. Having a few weeks off and going around with friends from out of town makes makes us feel like tourists in our own city. Also, we have a great chance to experience hospitality and sleep on some futons when we visit exotic locations like Milwaukee.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


If you've read any of my previous posts, it should be quite clear by now that Abu Dhabi isn't a tiny little outpost in the middle of the desert with nothing around. It is an urban area in the middle of the desert with nothing around. Honestly, if you never left the island, you would likely never know you were in a desert. It is hot and sometimes there is a bit of sand in the air on windy days, but it is also humid, a very lush city with large buildings, hotels and restaurants.

The city has a busy central area called the Tourist Club Area where many of the hotels, restaurants, and bars are. The area around Hamdan Street is a busy central area with lots of stores and restaurants. Abu Dhabi is a big bustling city that you could expect to find in any modern country.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This is a picture of an actual traffic jam in Abu Dhabi from last September. While this example is an extreme case, it is pretty typical of the type of traffic one can expect here. The side of the island I live on is a lot better, but it can still get busy. Scenes like this are why I tend to take a taxi if I'm going over to this side.

Recently, police have started giving people 500 dirham fines (about $170) to people who are stopped in the intersection in a red light. If you try to get across the intersection, you'd better make sure that you can get all the way through.

Talking to taxi drivers, the amount of traffic seems to have tripled in the past two years. Hopefully, the construction of Salam Street due to finish soon, this will ease up. It is set to be the region's longest tunnel and should provide some much needed relief to the traffic congestion.