Awful Arabs & Muslims..?!


“Arabs are all Muslims and really bad people”

Well…this is one of the statements I hear quite often therefore I need to URGENTLY comment on it.

Firstly, being an “Arab” does not automatically mean that the person is Muslim.
(In Lebanon for eg. live more or less 54% Muslims and 41% Christians)

Secondly, there will always be bad people regardless of religion, nationality etc. and I’m pleased to say that most of the “Arabs” and “Muslims” I met were simply amazing.

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My friends here in Abu Dhabi are mainly guys (yes..males..oh oh!) from Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Oman, Lebanon, Syria and the UAE (Locals).

We do what friends do – we go to the beach..to the club & dance..to the restaurant..to the cinema..to exhibitions..to a friends’ place etc. – yes, we interact and it is “allowed” 😉
They do respect me like I respect them and we absolutely enjoy our time together! It’s an ongoing interaction and cultural exchange for both sides.
My Arab guys would always make sure I get home safely; I don’t carry too heavy things as a female and value discussion at eye level.

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Muslims
I do not wish to go into detail in regards to religion and beliefs but still I need to make three things clear:
A) Just because you are Muslim – you are not necessarily an extremist
B) The Quran is THE Holy Book in the Islam and at the same time an amazing piece of Arabic literature, written with the most precious Arabic words
C) Muslims do not necessarily have to be Arabic – they could also be Indian, Asian, Australian, Chinese or even American & German

The Muslims who I met appreciate the “female” (mother, wife etc.) contrary to their reputation. Some say there is no “law” which forces Muslim lady to cover her hair (hijab) – it is rather a personal choice – back in the days the covering intended protection against “annoyances” which is nowadays regulated by well-functioning law systems. Wearing a hijab (or not) does not portray her emancipation nor her “oppressed” opinion.
There will always be Muslims and/or Christians who practice or interpret something which was never meant to be practiced.
In the end it is all about communication and exchange – there is no right, no wrong.

Who says that your perception classifying something as “normal” is the correct one? 😉

Concluding:
Yes, almost all “Arabs” and “Muslims” are awful.. they are kind, graceful, food and family loving, generous, hospitable, understanding, loving, nice, funny, food-terrorists (“eat more, have more, serve yourself”), interested, respectful, caring and do not try to impose something on you. Horrible, isn’t it? 😉

We are all the same – we live to love. 

Musandam / Khasab

..WOW! 

Distance: 4.5h by car (AUH-Musandam/Khasab)
Ideal stay: 3 days
Temperature: depending on season, between 10ºC and 42ºC

At the border you will have to pay a small amount to get the UAE exit-stamp and a small amount to get the OMANI entry-stamp. The officers at the border are very friendly but will not rush things 😉
After the border you will encounter beautiful, natural scenary! Appreciate it 🙂

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Hotel-wise I do highly recommend Atana Musandam. It is affordable, clean, has a modern-traditional mix when it comes to decoration and is only 40min away from the border, centrally located in Khasab.
This was the stunning view from our Duplex balcony:

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Musandam/Khasab is known for its traditional dhow cruise where you are almost always lucky to spot DOLPHINS.
The hotel can arrange it for you, else you can book it by yourself directly in the marina of Khasab. Normally the half day dhow cruise costs around  AED 150.- per person including soft drinks.
From my point of view this is nothing in comparison to the experience you get!
The moment we saw the dolphin family in their natural(!) habitat: priceless.

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Truly thankful for this amazing moment. I could not hold back my tears. ♥

 

Hot..hotter..UAE..?!

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26.01.2016 – Pearls & Caviar, Abu Dhabi

“I can’t visit you, it’s always so hot over there – I cannot handle it”

People often associate the desert with unbearable heat throughout the year.

Well, first of all, once you are in ABU DHABI or DUBAI a) you do not see any desert (if you do not drive at least one hour out of the city) and b) it does not seem at all that the desert is nearby due to beautiful greenery, waves in the ocean and most different skyscrapers.

Secondly, yes, we are blessed with mainly sunny weather but still temperatures rise and fall..our temperatures may sound “high” in comparison to Europe but the heat/humidity is different..yes, it can get chilly due to the cool desert winds and yes, we do have some rainy days in between.

Jan – 15˚C – 23˚C  (windy evenings)
Feb – 15˚C – 25˚C  (windy evenings, rain possibility)
Mar – 18˚C – 27˚C (windy evenings, high rain possibility)
Apr – 20˚C – 30˚C (a-m-a-z-i-n-g) 
May – 23˚C – 35˚C (great but humidity increases)
Jun – 26˚C – 40˚C (in the past two years May & June were amazing in terms of weather) 
Jul – 28˚C – 42˚C (highway to hell..)
Aug – 30˚C – 46˚C (stuck in hell..only way out: take a plane!) 
Sep – 26˚C – 40˚C (humidity is still quite high!)
Oct – 23˚C – 36˚C (great and humidity fades out)
Nov – 20˚C – 32˚C (a-m-a-z-i-n-g)
Dec – 16˚C – 26˚C (great but it’s getting chilly)

If you are weather sensitive I would recommend you to come and explore this beautiful country from March till June + Mid October till December.

March 2016 was pretty bad: Hey Global warming, are you proud of this?

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“What about the sea? How’s the temperature?” 

Ranges between 22˚C and 35˚C
(yes, I would not go to the sea in July, August & September – “too much hot”)

‘Sheikh’-overload or traditional garment..?!

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This is one of THOSE widespread rumors and comments which I constantly hear from friends, visitors, guests etc..

“Does this white garment mean they are ‘Sheikhs’?”

Fortunately or unfortunately (matter of opinion) not everyone wearing a “white garment” (= Kandura) is a ‘Sheikh’.

The Kandura is the official UAE national dress which consists of a long, white shirt-like garment, a red checkered or white headdress (ghutra) and a black cord (agal).

As mentioned, the UAE manages pretty well to tie a not between MODERNISM and TRADITION – yes, many locals do have the most recent phone, the most expensive watch & drive fancy cars but they still identify themselves with their roots/traditions by for eg. wearing the Kandura in public.

“They seem so arrogant, untouchable”; “They are not friendly and have no good manners”

In this diverse world you will ALWAYS find “good” and “less good” people.
Generally speaking I’ve encountered mainly genuine, welcoming and kind Emiratis here in the UAE, who are thankful for what they have today and are “equipped” with an open mind due to overseas studies.
The reputation of an Emirati on “annual leave” is not the best but as I like to compare: does the German behave back home the same way he does in “Mallorca”? 😉
..second-hand embarrassment..just sayin’..

..you get what you give..

Once my car and I (yes, I drive, as mentioned earlier) had a battery issue at the petrol station. It was quite hard to find a helping hand due to the tinted windows of the XXL Nissan Patrols and Mitsubishi Pajeros which surrounded my VW Polo. After knocking on several windows I got two local helpers who were not “too arrogant” to help a “Blondie” or “too afraid” to sully their hands/garment! 😉

A nation without culture..?!

In the UAE you will find a mix of OLD and NEW when it comes to “culture & lifestyle”.

As initially stated, the Bedouins did not wake up on an oil well – it all started with pearl diving, handcraft and falconry.

..embark on a story of authentic culture and heritage..
(by Tourism Culture Authority AD)

To get a better overview of the UAE’s past you should either visit:

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or

Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi
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..both showcase the national roots at its best..

Nowadays Abu Dhabi Tourism Cultural Authority, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and NYU Arts Center provide a vast number of cultural events and exhibitions – so, YES there is def. a lot of “culture” going on here 🙂

“While preserving the past, this is a place which shapes the future”
(by Tourism Culture Authority AD)

PS: my favorite “traditional” event is the Qasr Al Hosn Festival – check it out!

 

 

Boring sandpit or enchanting metropolis..?!

When it comes to “life in Abu Dhabi” people do often think we are surrounded by sand only; sit in a tent; sweat because of the unbearable heat and play with camels (if we, ladies, are even allowed to leave the tent! ;))..

..Near enough is not good enough..


Thanks to the “young” age of this city it got the chance to be shaped/created according to “our” needs!

This means we have received quite a few malls; big five star hotels with restaurants, bars and clubs; sports centers; beach clubs; gardens; museums; street coffee shops; view points; public event spaces; etc.etc. which was man made and we are also able to enjoy natural reserves; mangroves; great deserts and natural islands.

My TOP 5 activities:

..beach, beach, let’s go to the beach..
Saadiyat Public Beach; Yas Beach; Corniche Family Beach


..let the sun go down..
beautiful sunsets @ Eastern Mangroves Promenade


..seduce your palate..
yummy surf & turf @ Turquoiz


..good friend and a glass of Hugo..
Beach House


..dance the night away..
follow City Vibes and take your crew with you

Oh no..Abu Dhabi..?!

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..almost three years ago, when my new life period started, I immediately received comments like “what? you are moving to Abu Dhabi?”, “a Blondie in the middle of the Arabs?”, “you will have a restricted life, no car driving, covering, etc.” and “it’s not safe there, you have to take care”.

Thankfully these comments did not move me at all.

I was ready for this chapter and more than looking forward.

Looking back I am somehow proud that I did not approach Abu Dhabi and this region with these negative feelings otherwise I might have missed out on one of the BEST chapters of my life.

..you get what you give..good vibes, good life..


Abu Dhabi consists of more or less 20% local “Emiratis” and 80% of Expats (US, Asia, Europe and Africa guess what..incl. other “Arabs” Palestinians, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese etc.).

Why would we all live here if our life would be that “horrible”? 😉

Everyone who decides to come to the UAE, finds its own kind of happiness! From the CEO of an European company, the Asian taxi driver to the American teacher.

Yes, there are certain rules which we have to adhere to; they might be different from our “home countries” but how do you want a system of over 70 different nationalities and cultures to work in peace and with respect towards each other if you do not set the standards high? 😉

To finalize this introduction…

Yes, I do have Arab friends..mainly Arab dudes actually! They are Muslims but this does not mean they are extremist 🙂 I’m their “Amira” (princess) and can genuinely count on them for whatever it is..

No, I do not cover..even shorts (not the “belt-shorts”) are fine! Obviously you cover yourself slightly if you go into a Mosque – or would you go in a short skirt into a church?! + The “Abayas” (we do not call it burka!) are worn by choice and for traditional reasons not by force..

Yes, I drive – oh yeah..i love to drive – listening to my “ghetto” music..

Yes, as a “Blondie” I am respected and actually it is even advantageous in regards to queuing up in the supermarket or bus; cross streets; etc… hehe 😉 In general the “woman” rates high in the society, opposite all rumors.

UAE is ranked as a leader in gender equality in the region where women in the UAE are playing an increasingly stronger role in business, military and government. This achievement comes from the fundamental belief that women and men are equal partners in society.
(UAE Embassy in Washington DC) 

Yes, it is indeed safe! Criminality rate is under 1%..Where else..can you leave your bag unattended while going to the buffet to get more food?..can you walk alone on the street as a lady in the middle of the night?..does someone pick your wallet up after it accidentally fell out of the pocket?


..Funny enough..Everyone is travelling to Indonesia and is against or simply afraid of Muslims..Did you know that they have the world’s largest Muslim population?.. 

So pack your things (don’t forget your open mind!) and visit this beautiful Region and especially..

my Abu Dhabi