Monday 27 May 2013

Al Ain

Hi.  Hello there!  Remember me?  Yes, it has been an awfully long time since I posted - I blame a new job and an impromptu trip to Australia and then the ensuing guilt which gave me blogger's block and prevented me from posting these very overdue photographs from when I visited Abu Dhabi back at the beginning of March.  But let's move past all of this and get on with the show.  Today it includes coffee, palm trees, oases and camels.  

On the second day of my 48-hour sojourn in Abu Dhabi I elected to go to the oasis city of Al Ain to get more of a feel for traditional Emirati culture.  Given my time was limited, I booked a day trip with Desert Rose tours - great decision, as it turned out.  Friendly, courteous, knowledgeable driver and much the best way of visiting a few sites in one day.

First stop: the Palace Museum, former home of the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The palace interiors are cool, simple but rather beautiful.

This rather intriguing piece of equipment was (I think, it's so long ago that I'm hazy on the details) for climbing date palms,

while this is a typical seating area with coffee making equipment down in the bottom right hand corner.

In the women's quarters, I was very taken by this suspended, swinging hammock/cot - especially since friends of mine just bought something similar for their new baby.

And here's me in the majlis, the formal reception area of the palace.  To the manner born.

This sitting room was in the palace's guest quarters.  I do covet the blue-embroidered coverings - and the beautiful rug.

From the palace, we went on to the oasis, around which the city has grown.

As well as date palms, we saw oranges,

and these palm-dappled networks of irrigation channels.

I was interested to see some mosques hidden among the trees; several of them, tucked into small clearings in the trees.  I assume they were/are for handy access of people labouring among the palms.

Next stop: the camel market.

Oh! A baby camel ... which costs upwards of €3000.  So I didn't bring him home.

Or this one, though she did her best to charm me.

Our final stop was Jebel Hafeet, one of the highest mountains in the UAE.  We drove to the top (I asked the driver if many people hiked on/up the mountain.  He looked at me blankly.  'But there's a road,' he observed, perplexed.  'For cars.') from where you get a wonderful view of the desert.

This is a great picture to remember Abu Dhabi by - and yes, it was well worth the stopover.  I very briefly touched down in Abu Dhabi airport on my way to Australia at the beginning of May and very much regretted I didn't have time to go back to the oasis or to sit in a courtyard and eat mutabel with pomegranate seeds.  Oh well - next time.