Friday, May 7, 2010

Sand Everywhere

I have been in Abu Dhabi now for almost 7 weeks. Today, Friday, was the first day I ventured out more than 25 miles from where I live. I woke up early to do my usual Friday routine - go to the Corniche and walk along the beach promenade for 1 hour, go to Khalidiyah Mall at 8AM for Starbucks latte and croissant, then do grocery at LuLu's located in the same mall. I got back to my apartment at about 9:30. I dropped off the groceries and immediately left for a drive to Al Ain, a city more inland into UAE and near the Oman border. Al Ain is about 160km (or 96 mi) from Abu Dhabi. The highway has minimum 3-lanes each direction and it is in excellent condition, better than our freeways in the US. It took me about 1.5 hours to get there, with a couple of stops for pictures and a rest break.

Al Ain is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. It is very verdant, with well tendered parks and gardens. I also drove up to Jebel Hafeet, just south of Al Ain, which is the highest point in the UAE. It is an uphill, winding drive to the top. But it was well worth it with the spectacular views of Al Ain and the surrounding terrain from various vista points. I will include photos of Al Ain and Jebel Hafeet in future postings. Instead, I will post photos of the desert sand. I have not shared any yet.

UAE, no question about it, is mostly desert. So I see the sand everywhere, especially where I work. They manage to work into your shoes, socks, and feet no matter how careful you are stepping into it. On a windy day, the sand will get into your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. During a sandstorm, it will leave a fine coat not only on your vehicle, but also on your head and face. We have had a few mild sandstorms and one strong one last Sunday. The Sunday sandstorm almost took the aluminum roofing off of our office trailer. No matter how often you clean your office desk, a sandy build-up will develop after a couple of days. The apartment is fine; it is sealed well enough that none manages to get in.

Such an annoyance. But it does have a few positive attributes. The sand in the desert provides beautiful and stunning sceneries. The desert sand around Al Ain has a more orangy tint than the sand in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi has the drab, normal desert sand.

All the pictures are from my drive back from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi this afternoon. The pictures do not give it justice. The sand dunes provide amazing backdrop of the desert. The lines drawn by the wind offer the dunes another dimension, as well as order and symmetry. The first group of pictures was taken about half hour outside of Al Ain. The last three photos were at a location that was closer to Abu Dhabi area. (Click on the photo to enlarge the picture.)

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