A Sunday In Abu Dhabi

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I’m slowly getting accustomed to living in the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi. Just yesterday, my newest friend, an Emirates-based Sudanese-Ethiopian woman, taught me how to speak like a local.

“It’s bu DAABI. Not a BU DAA bi“, she said.

And yallah can mean ‘come’, ‘go’, ‘let’s get out of here’ or ‘move away from me’ depending on the context. Good to know. Last week some of my Grade 11 students taught me how to say the numbers, body parts and colours in Arabic. They are supposed to test me this week.

Yesterday was Saturday – the last day of the weekend. It’s going to be tough getting used to having Fridays and Saturdays off. I still think Saturday is a ‘proper’ Sunday.

My friend and guide took me and another new expat to get inked. It’s not as permanent as a regular tattoo but you can get a wide choice of designs drawn on any part of your body.

It took about 2 hours for the entire process of choosing a design, getting it painted on and drying. Most salons in the city are banned from doing it because this particular type of henna has carcinogens. I was happy with the design and it shows up beautifully on my chocolate skin but…let’s just say that this may be the first and last time I get it done.

I’m usually one to research new things I place in and on my body. Because I thought it was simply an indigo dye like the one I colour my hair with I thought everything would be just fine. Until the other expat (she got her legs inked in a gorgeous lace-like pattern) started to complain of itching. I can be a hypochondriac when I put my mind to it. My hand started itching too. Not much but is it all in my head?? It might be but I bought some hydrogen peroxide to wipe off some of it – just in case!

After the henna salon, we drove to Madinat Zayed Gold Souq. I love silver but I think I’m in super love with gold now. You can customize any piece you want and the prices are all very reasonable. The merchants expect you to haggle for the best price. You can also try on as much as you want.

That necklace set in the pic above will be mine for $12,000 CAD. I swear I’ll dream about it every day and my prince will deliver it to me.

Last but not least is another discovery – almost as pleasant as the Gold Souq – but less painful on the wallet. Mangosteen is my new mango. I mean I LOVE mango. Mangosteen is not a mango at all. But it gives me the same sweet and tangy satisfaction. Protect your clothes, get a sharp knife, cut the thick skin and voila – yummy white soft seeds that melt in your mouth!!! Try eating the bitter purple skin for more antioxidant benefits too.

Halas (another great Arabic word meaning finished, enough or stop)! Yesterday started sweetly and ended real sweet! Stay tuned for more adventures from the Naptural Born Traveller!


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Island Hopping Abu Dhabi Style

This weekend (Friday and Saturday in the United Arab Emirates) was a hot one! The daytime high averaged around 40 degree Celsius. People tell me this is only the beginning!

Abu Dhabi is situated on the Arabian Gulf and includes an archipelago of man-made and true islands. They are fairly close to one another and joined by bridges. Yas Island is famous for its Formula One race track (The Fast And Furious franchise was filming on the track while we were in the hotel next door but no one had access – boo hoo)

My friends invited me to laze around with them at Park Inn by Radisson’s pool on the island. Apparently, all you need to do is go to any hotel and ask for a day pass for access to pools and alcohol! Know the right folks and you’ll get discounts too 🙂

The latter part of the weekend brought me inside the new Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island. It’s a high-end luxury shopping centre that is practically void of shoppers but has an amazing view of Abu Dhabi. I highly suggest Godiva Cafe for people-watching and live piano music.

I used to think that Tokyo had dibs on public cleanliness, sleek luxury, materialism and skyscrapers. Sorry to bust your bubble Edo, Abu Dhabi beat you on all of those points! Public bathrooms that are so well-kept that you wouldn’t mind eating in them. Workers to re-sweep and re-wipe floors and windows, hour after hour…Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city.

Have you visited Abu Dhabi? What would you like to see while you’re here?


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