Last weekend, I had a visit from Nina (one of my VSO friends). She was travelling back to the UK from Australia and had a brief stop-over in the U.A.E. I was due to meet her in Abu Dhabi City, after school on Thursday.
I woke up on Thursday morning to see rain outside my window – this was the first time it had rained since I had been in Abu Dhabi! Once I arrived at school, I was surprised to find the building almost empty! Apparently, when it rains most of the children stay at home. I started the day by teaching the 8 children in grade 5 who had turned up. Then at 10:00, I got a message from the Principal saying that the Education Council had decided to close all the schools in Abu Dhabi early for safety reasons. I found this quite surprising as the weather conditions were really nothing more than a wet winter’s day in England. However, I guess in the way that England is not equipped to deal with snow, Abu Dhabi is not equipped to deal with rain! On the positive side, it allowed me to head off early to the City and gave me more time to sort out the hotel before Nina arrived.
When Nina arrived, it was still raining, so we decided to visit Al Wadha Mall , as it has numerous shops and restaurants all under cover! We had a delicious meal at Fuddruckers.
On the Friday, we woke up to sunshine, so we were able to go as planned to Yas Water World. (This is a water park and amusement park located on Yas Island near the main city). It has 43 rides, slides and attractions. We enjoyed having a swim, going on the ‘crazy river ride,’ going down some of the flumes, watching the Pearl Diving Show, and experiencing the ‘fishy feet!’
Later in the day, we headed to Emirates Palace, for High Tea. Emirates Palace is Abu Dhabi’s seven star luxury hotel. It was built by and is owned by the Abu Dhabi government. The cost of building the hotel was 3.9 billion GBP or 11.02 billion AED or about 6 billion USD. The Emirates Palace occupies 850,000m² of floor space. Underground parking allows housing for 2,500 vehicles. There are two swimming pools and spas. The hotel has its own marina and helipad. The Emirates Palace is the second most expensive hotel ever built, only surpassed by Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The main central area houses an expansive marble floor, balconies and a large patterned dome above, picked out in gold. The topmost floor has six Rulers’ Suites which are reserved solely for Emirati royalty and dignitaries. It also has its own gold vending machine! It started to rain when we were inside, but kindly stopped before we were due to leave!
After leaving the Palace, we headed to Central Market. This is made up of lots of traditional souqs (small shops). Here we did some of our Christmas shopping!
On the Saturday, it was Nina’s birthday and the rain was back! Thankfully, it did not matter though as we were heading to Ferrari World (the largest indoor amusement park in the world), located on Yas Island. Here we went on some of the rides and watched the impressive magic and acrobatics show. We took part in a quiz show, which was similar to ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’. Nina was one of the first audience members to press the correct answer, so she went on stage as a finalist!
When we left the park, the rain had cleared so we went for a quick swim in the hotel pool. Then it was time for me to say goodbye to Nina and head back to Madinat Zayed. It was a very enjoyable weekend, despite the rain!