No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing

(Prince Feisal, Lawrence of Arabia)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

City or amusement facility?

I have just found the bellow blog post in my drafts (haven't been on this site in quite a while!) and thought I would share it with you all...

"... seeks to distort conventional perceptions and startle people with unstable and unpredictable physical circumstances within an atmosphere of wacky whimsicality."

'Funhouse', Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

The area in which I grew up in the UK would, every October, be descend upon by Hull Fair, one of the largest travelling fairs in Europe, and thus, every October, my brother and I would persuade our parents to take us. There was something about the lights, the size of it and the totally different culture of the people there that enchanted me, as well as the draw of my favourite 'ride' - the funhouse. The funhouse was an attraction which I had always presumed was only favoured by children. It wasn't until I decided to spare my Mother from having to accompany me, I saw that she had always done so as much for her own enjoyment as mine - needless to say it didn't take much persuasion for me to accompany her!

Regrettably, I have not attended Hull Fair in many a year now yet I feel that I have found my own little bit of carnival in the Middle East. The quote above isn't too far removed from how I have come to discribe Abu Dhabi and the UAE. the distortion comes not from wobbly mirrors though but a seeming total shift in attitude. Children seem more naive then in other countries whilst young adults mature years before their age; people speak fondly and defend jobs, and the country, that they would otherwise hate and companies employ those who are vastly under qualified; the young look at buying property whilst the more mature seem more keen to rent.

A few months ago I attended a friend's 21st at her two bedroom villa in the suburbs. The party consisted of the birthday girl spending the evening ensuring peoples drinks where full whilst her partner looked after the dog and manned the BBQ. The one moment of 'letting your hair down', which entailed the two of us climbing into her pool, fully dressed with drinks in hand, merely left the rest of the party staring at us in utter contempt. My 21st involved me going to a bar, having a few too many shots of whatever was being bought for me and retiring with room spin... does this make me massively immature or does this country just insist that people grow up quickly? And I can't help wonder that if the latter is the case, then why haven't I?

When I turned 25 in March my Mother stated that this is the age when one is a 'real' grown up (or at least when she felt like one) and with the past few months, predictably after things were going so well, bringing the end of a relationship and, yet another, redundancy, I finally feel like one. Unfortunately what my new found 'grown up' state has helped me realise is that I actually don't know, or can be sure of, anything, from who I want to be, where I want to go, or what I want to do. All I do know is that I don't want to be settling down into a life of baking cakes in the suburbs with a dog yet - or working 60 hour weeks!

I'll let you know when I have found a compromise.

Until next time

Scarf Girl (June 2011)

So it seems I have now found my compromise. I have fallen in love and got married and although I am now baking cakes on a neighbouring island it is just a stop gap for a couple of months until we move to NZ. About a year and a half ago I woke up, everything was clear and haven't looked back :)

This blog will no longer be active but to stay in touch with what we're up to be sure to check out our website 

Take care 

Mrs Scarf x

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

New Year's Resolutions

"Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty."  

John Selden

Every year I make little resolutions to myself in January and have already forgotten them by February. 

So... this year I have decided to blog my resolutions for 2011 as, although they may be 'twice as onerous' to stick to, if others know about them I may be more compelled to keep to them.

So here goes:
  1. To go on the Wii Fit at least 4 times a week - even if only to do the body test so as to keep track of my progress
  2. To be in shape to run the RAK half marathon next February - and ideally run the Dubai Marathon next January and use the RAK as my warm down!
  3. To have my own place to live 
  4. To learn to drive
  5. To have hold a dinner party where i cook a three course meal entirely on my own
  6. To blog a minimum of 12 times 
  7. To be able to hold a basic conversation in Arabic - and blog the conversation afterwards - preferably in Arabic text!
  8. To hand write at least 10 letters - and get around to posting them
  9. To clear my debts and start saving 
  10. To end the year, at least, as happy and as healthy as I have started it
Please feel free to prompt/encourage/help me throughout 2011 and the 'duties' that lie ahead and make sure you check back at the start of 2012 to see if I managed to prove Mr. Selden wrong.

Until next time

Scarf Girl

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A green and pleasant land?

"They used to say that agriculture has no future [in the UAE], but with God's blessing and our determination, we have succeeded in transforming this desert into a green land."

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

 This year, marked the sixth anniversary of the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former president and founder of the UAE. He believed then, six years ago, that he had managed to successfully create a 'green land'. A green land of wealth and prosperity perhaps however the constant view of sand and dust within this ever growing building site would appear to contradict this.

 Unfortunately the city of Abu Dhabi is not quite the oasis the late Sheikh Zayed had hoped for however his grand masterplan for the area still remains - as every week a new road is finished, building opened, and tree erected. If only the government departments responsible for these changes knew how to communicate internally they could possibley create the land Sheikh Zayed dreamed of more efficiently.

 A couple of months ago PB and I were lucky enough to have a week long vacation in Beirut where we saw a sharp contrast to Abu Dhabi in the efficiency of renovation and construction. Beirut was, as most of you know, heavily bombed during it's civil war - evidence of which is still present throughout the city.

 Once the war was over in 1990, what was once Beirut's Central District was left for dead, flattened by over 25 years of fighting. Our guides books described what we were about to see as post-appocolyptic Paris. Imagine then, our suprised when Beirut's Central District, now reffered to as Downtown, more closely resembled the stylish fashion avenues of Rome or Barcelona. In only 15 years the part public, part private initiative, Solidere, has turned what was 'no mans land' into a bustling hub of exclusivity.

 On our return to Abu Dhabi we immediately longed for the Mediterranean vibe that flows through Beirut but quickly reminded ourselves that we can not compare the two cities as this country is a mere 38 years old. To compare it to those places in the world that we love is unreasonable and I have no doubt that in another 38 years, if that, people will be sad to leave this place - myself included.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

"Being born under an unlucky star"

'Laymen and professional researchers alike have often asked themselves whether the concept of "being born under an unlucky star" has any foundation in reality... An interesting survey suggests that the answer is yes. And what is more, this type of behaviour explains why some drivers are less able than others'

Be Smart, Drive Safe - Emirates Driving Handbook

As I sit and read the above paragraph, revising for my forthcoming theory test, it becomes no surprise that in that my year of living in this country I have been hit by an SUV whilst standing quite still, in a car-park, and have been in two taxi crashes, albeit minor bumps. 

When my friend, a man in the know, originally told me that he would come with me to my theory test and ensure I passed, I was dubious, however upon now learning that my manual on how to drive teaches of, not stopping times or general high-way code, "unlucky stars" and etiquette at a party (from a culture that isn't meant to drink!) I doubt very much that passing the theory test in this country will make me a good driver. I would also like to add that I have passed the UK standard test so I do know what this driving manual here fails to teach me.

The Arabian culture has altered my existence in many ways, not only for the chaotic driving where it is not uncommon to see a Lexus LX470 driving along the high-way on two wheels, or breaking to a halt to decorate the road with some doughnut like markings. Tomorrow happens to be Leilat Al-Meiraj meaning that the night before is dry (without alcohol for all of you living outside of Arabia).  This means that not only am I sitting drinking a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream, alone, in my kitchen (I'm as surprised, as I'm sure you are, to have found a bottle of such nectar in my local liquor store), instead of my usual after work drinks, that inevitably turns into late night ongoings, but this bottle also eats into 5 % of my salary.  You see to buy alcohol in this country, if a resident, one needs to have a liquor license that, not only costs a percentage of one's salary, but also limits the amount you are allowed to buy. Now as a Brit, trying to survive the heat of the summer desert, it is often hard not to exceed the legal limit, especially when one doesn't earn as much as my liver would like.

Anyway, seeing as I have helped my cleaner return to the Philippines to visit her family for the summer, I feel I should use this night of sobriety to make the Penthouse look respectful again.

Until next time

Scarf Girl