Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Live from the Lounger - Abu Dhabi-doo

It's a bit grim up north today. Oh how I wish I was somewhere hot and sunny ................

Normally when I am feeling a bit blue, I dust off my NYC girls.

Arabian adventures Abu Dhabi in SATC2.
But today I can go one better. Through the medium of magic I can whisk us away to somewhere hot and lovely now, as it is today, right this minute.

Today I'm trying out a new idea which I hope will become a regular feature on the blog - Live from the Lounger.

So hop on to my magic carpet and lets join my 'Best Woman Gill', Worsley's answer to Alan Whicker live from her lounger in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (just a pedalo and a cross wind across the gulf from the bright lights of Iran).


Gill - can you hear me?

Yes, yes Alison, I can hear you. Greetings from 'the lounger'.


So, you're in Abu Dhabi (you lucky lady). Over to you. How's your trip going so far?


Well Alison, Abu Dhabi is certainly a country rich in ancient traditions, cultures and religions. 

An Emirate where over 200 different nationalities live harmoniously side by side and where the distinctive call to prayer is broken only by the sound of the jack hammer as it pounds yet more scaffolding into the ground to create the biggest, best and most ornate building since the last 72 floor offering.  


In the Emirates if it looks like gold, it is gold - except for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, where gold adornments are kept to beyond the reach of the thief - or so our guide tells us. 
 
Not that that matters much when your breath is taken away by the true beauty of over 22,000 metres square of pure whiteness, whose floors and walls are inlaid with flowers and leaves of muted colours - all in the best marble the world has to offer.  

 Four minarets and 32 domes provide the structure that can house over 40,000 worshippers in one go.  The main prayer room boasts an intricate and ornate carpet that weighed 42 tonnes, crafted by the hands of 1250 Iranian women and laid in one piece, and chandeliers made entirely from Swazorwski crystals; the largest of which weighs in at a mighty 9.5 tonnes of bling. 

 

Overwhelming.
 
Prayer times.
 
As we depart along The Corniche leaving the sound of the Iman calling the faithful to worship we are heading towards another Mecca.  As awe inspiring as the Mosque in grandeur and size, the place of worship of consumers everywhere the shopping malls of the Emirates can rival any the world over.  

All shapes and sizes of designer life can be found here, nestling in amongst the high street names we have grown up with.  If there isn't an M and S jostling for position between Tiffany's and Chanel it’s a sub-standard mall.  And Allah forbid you shouldn't find a ski slope, snow dome or ice skating rink to entertain you as the thermometer hits a cool 32 degrees outside. 

If haggling for bargains is more your style then there's plenty of opportunity for that too if you head downtown to the Gold Souk.  A collection of small shops with every type, style and design of gold and jewels you could wish to find. It's a sparkling paradise but if you're a bit of a magpie best leave the credit card at home! Gold prices are high so don't expect too much of a bargain but the thrill of beating down the "best available price" is one of those things I will never tire of.  

The only currency you can trust at the moment!
 

Religiously and financially spent, we head back to our hotel 'between the bridges' to soak up some sun.  Lounging under a palm tree on the beach, my view across the sparkling blue waters of the Arabian Gulf is peppered with the sight of jet skis battling for supremacy of speed, as the abras or water taxis chug along sedately to deliver their passengers to dry land, and the safety of the Souk next door.   

Everywhere I look there are cranes rising up out of the ground seeking the supremacy of creating the next largest hotel or office block; and succeeding.  My soundtrack is the banter of workmen ten, twelve, fifteen floors up, interspersed with the melodic swaying of palms and the gentle call of the dove-like birds that inhabit this garden. 

So what next for us in this land of stark contrasts? Traditional English Afternoon tea at The Emirates Palace of course.  I will raise a cucumber sandwich and a Cosmo and say a small prayer that when West meets East in the Emirates it does it with amazing style!

Abu Dhabi I'm a fan.

Thanks Gill, it sounds amazing. Is there anything else you'd like to add live from your Abu Dhabi lounger?

I'll send pics from the Emirates Palace tomorrow - gotta get my SATC2 fill!


Enjoy, thank you, don't swap your sister for a camel and don't forget my present!

Gill's sister as we've never seen her before.

Bye, bye ......... I think we've lost her.

I hope you enjoyed today's 'Live from the Lounger'. 

If you'd like to be one of my roving real-time reporters, then drop me a line and make us jealous!

 

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