Abu Dhabification… When the Emirate doesn’t let go!

I just spent 10 days in a beautiful country. Guatemala. Now I was going to spend another five in another country. A country I knew quite well. A country that even though I only spent one year in, I consider a second home. The Emirates.

Kayaking in Abu Dhabi

There are many reasons I decided to return so soon after my last visit at the start in April. But to be honest I can sometimes be a creature of habit and revisiting a place I miss so much was always going to be a no brainer for me. Seeing my friends again; sitting in the same shisha café’s again; driving down those familiar roads again. I loved it. It makes no sense whatsoever how and why this country feels like a home to me, though when my Mom and brother went over to visit me last year they understood why I enjoyed living there. When I was there a month ago for my friend’s wedding, my friend Alex, from London, said the same thing.

The first two days was spent seeing my friends and former colleagues in Abu Dhabi. It’s strange how even though you move away from a place and don’t see you friends as often as you would have before, that when you meet if feels like nothing has changed, like you haven’t been away. Old habits return quite quickly and as soon as I was back, we were back at an outdoor shisha café talking our usual and distinct brand of… ‘bullocks’. Nothing changes.

I also did something I hadn’t done in Abu Dhabi, but wanted to do for a long time. Kayaking through the mangroves of Abu Dhabi. This is an unusual activity for a place like Abu Dhabi. The country and the city is all about beaches and extravagance (to a lesser extent than Dubai, but still), so to do something as low key and eco-friendly as this was something strange but refreshing. Al Nakhouda started these tours just over a year ago.

Joedi and I at Bab Al Shams

To see Abu Dhabi in this way was interesting. To hear about how the construction projects around the main Abu Dhabi Islands is destroying one of their biggest forests is sad. As we were kayaking through the mangroves we saw foxes that inhabit the mangroves and how the development of the islands have meant their numbers have decreased. It was an interesting experience and a lot of fun too. I’d never kayaked before but me and my friend, did a pretty good job.

The days after that was spent in Dubai. It was here that I met my friend Joedi, after two and a half years. Joedi is from the US and we met while doing our Masters, at the the DPU, in development and planning in London. Joedi and I were joined by Noor, who also studied in the same deparment, and had travelled from Bahrain to see Joedi (and me). And later that day we were joined by Maira, another DPUer who lives in Dubai and was someone I bothered all the time while living in Abu Dhabi.

Our mini DPU reunion would have been much more exciting had I had more energy. The combination of lack of sleep, long flights (20 hours of flying not including stopovers) had gotten to me. I was exhausted all the time. Made for really bad company at most times as I would fall asleep whenever I was relaxed.

While Joedi & Noor got ready, I feel asleep on the bed... Joedi caught me on camera just as I woke up!

Nonetheless is was brilliant to see Joedi and Noor again. Joedi had just travelled from South Africa where she had spent roughly three weeks on an exchange program. It was funny to hear her stories on South Africa and her experience of the country and I was extremely happy to know that she enjoyed it. Though I don’t think I will forgive her for going to South Africa while I wasn’t there! J

My short trip to the Emirates came to an end after only 4 days. It was a bittersweet trip for reasons I can’t get into right now, but I’m happy I went back ‘home’.

I went back to London where I spent the night with my friends again before another flight (my eighth of the trip) to Tripoli and work the next morning.

C’est la Vie.

Four months. That’s what stand between me and another holiday. The countdown begins.

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