For the last four days I have had the pleasure of exploring a city under construction. I say a city under construction as this is probably the best way of describe Abu Dhabi.
It is a place that is run almost entirely off the spoils of the oil industry. Abu Dhabi seventy years ago did not exist. This man called Sheikh Zayed (who was basically king, government and supreme ruler at the time) had this belief that he should share the wealth that the oil industry created, so he did that.
Every person (and by person I mean man) that was born in Abu Dhabi gets a living allowance of NZ$200,000 plus another $50,000 for every child. This means that the country has many incredibly wealthy people but also some incredibly poor too.
On one hand the Sheikh gives the local emirates all of this money, free houses and many more perks. They also exploit many immigrant workers. Immigrant workers are often imported from Pakistan, Phillapines and other surrounding developing counties. These workers get paid very little and sleep in worker camps and are not treated very well.
Sheihk Zayed also had this vision of a time when there would be no oil so he set out to create a ultimate tourist destination. So he has funded all of these developments. Abu Dhabi (when it is finished) will be a city that will be able to support forty million people even though they only have a population of one million. However at this moment in time it is a city under construction.
Even though it is a city under construction I managed to have some of the most incredible experiences. I stayed with an absolutely incredible family. They made me feel so welcome it was amazing!
On the first day I got to Abu Dhabi I arrived at 6 AM! John met me at the airport with a sign saying welcome to Abu Dhabi from which we travelled to their house and met the lovely Larkin ladies. Hinemarie had made muffins so as they were running around trying to get Taylor into her uniform (she's only three and already started school!) I went and got dressed into appropriate clothing.
That's one thing I found difficult. In Abu Dhabi while I was there the temperature ranged from about 32 to 36 degrees and as it is a Muslim country and I am a woman I had to be covered. It is not as conservative as I thought it would be but I still chose to wear respectful clothing.
That afternoon I went to Abu Dhabi Grammar with John. John runs a after school program teaching kids here how to play touch rugby. We went to this school to promote the program.
I found this really interesting to see after working at Plimmerton for the last couple of months. I found Abu Dhabi Grammar really primitive in comparison. There was almost no room for the kids to play! Each year group has lunch at a different time of the day as there is not enough room for them to all have lunch at the same time! And this was at a private school that cost the same amount as QMC or Marsden.
That evening I went out to dinner with Hinemarie, Logan and Taylor. It had the most beautiful view of the mosque which is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places I have ever been.
From far away the mosque looks like a traditional mosque however when you go inside you find that the prayer times ad displayed on a digital clock and there are even frangipani designs! It also displays how much obscene wealth there is in Abu Dhabi as all of the spires are made completely out of 24 carrot gold.
The next day I along with going to the mosque I also went to Masdar city which is a city that they are trying to make carbon neutral. It was an interesting mix with the old and new but like lots of things in Abu Dhabi it is still under construction. I also may have managed to fit in a little shopping...
The next day I managed to catch up with Megan and we had a lovely afternoon together living a life of luxury! Eating cakes at a gorgeous cakery, smoking shisha on the top on the Souk which was beautiful then proceeding for some haggling at a jewelry market.
On my last day I went to the emirate palace for breakfast with one of the most breathtaking views of Abu Dhabi! And that afternoon I went to FERRARI WORLD!!
I took my own life into my hands when I rode on the worlds fastest roller coaster! Tried (rather unsuccessfully) to drive a formula one car (in a simulation). Beat kids (and nobody else really) in go-karting and even got to sit in an actual ferrari!
I apologize for the massive entry and I don't blame you if you gave up reading by this point but this has been an amazing beginning to the trip of a lifetime. I really feel like I am living life. It's great being ally independent again after being dependent on people for so long .
I have had an unbelievably good time in the city under construction.