Night and day - the view from Phil and Carol's (Colin's brother and sister in law) apartment in Abu Dhabi. After 24 hours of travel - bus, train, taxi and plane it was heaven to arrive to such a beautiful view and apartment and a bathroom where everything works! (not to mention the pleasure of being with family) Johanna and I have been in raptures about the public toilets today, pure luxury. We were also in raptures last night about a beautiful home cooked pasta dinner to celebrate Phil's birthday and 12 hours of sleep.
Abu Dhabi is an intriguing place. We toured around the city today, Phil playing chauffeur. This place must be heaven for engineers, architects and interior designers etc... apparent unlimited money and the only limitation your imagination. We have seen amazing buildings, everything shaped from a plate (tipped on its edge), a leaning building (leans further than the famous one in Italy!), spiralling, curved, tall, you name it, it's been built here, bigger and better. Considering there wasn't much here 50 years ago the transformation is incredible. Oil has catapulted nomads into the 21st Century within a couple of generations. What was noticeably missing though was a sense or spirit of the Emiraties. The history and culture is not apparent in the structure and arrangement of the city. No medina's, not many arches, colourful tiles etc... like in Morocco. Abu Dhabi is like looking at copied versions of European or Western cities. I guess if you have been nomadic you do not have a history of cities, architectural style etc... to build upon. If you have the money I guess you can look around the world, see what you like and replicate it here. That's what it feels like anyway, perhaps the ensuing days will shed further light.
What was also strange was the absence of people in all these magnificent structures. Hotels, apartments, housing all relatively empty. I am not sure where all the people will come from to populate the growing city.
Sand, blue water and amazing buildings are imprinted on our minds from today.