Monday, October 7, 2013

DAY FOUR - I get a private tour of Abu Dhabi

This morning I was taken on a tour of Abu Dhabi by Cathy Harborow, the Community Support person for NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

Our first stop was at the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan Mosque or The Grand Mosque. Construction was only recently completed, and it is absolutely stunning.

This image is a bit fuzzy, but hopefully you can see the scale of the structure. The building is made of gleaming white marble, and in the bright Arabian sunlight, it is almost blinding. The interior is white marble as well, and even though the mosque is enormous, it feels light and ethereal inside. 

One must be modestly dressed to enter the mosque, and abayas are provided for women to don if needed. My sundress was a little on the short side, so I had to put one on. This is no different in my mind than having to cover one's head and shoulders when entering St. Peter's in Rome or the Duomo in Florence. Note the exquisite stone floral design on the ground. 

Close-up of a flower on the floor

Next we drove to Saadiyat Island where the NYU Abu Dhabi campus is under construction. It is due to open in the Fall of 2014, and that is what brought us here. Doug is acting as CIO (Chief Information Officer) for this project. The island is being developed as the cultural center of Abu Dhabi. Currently under construction are the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. There will also be several resorts and uber upscale housing. 

The design for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

We stopped at The Marina Mall for an hour, and I was happy to find several stores with dresses that I liked. I discovered when it came time to pack for this move that my Summer clothes, for the most part, were not acceptable in this culture. The bottom line is that they showed a little too much skin. Cathy advised me that it is okay to wear a sleeveless dress if it is long, and you can get away with a shorter dress (to the knees) so long as your shoulders are covered. You have to cover one or the other. Good to know. 

Near the Mall was a small cultural center which faced the city. We stopped in so I could get some photos of the skyline and specifically so I could get a shot with Sama Tower in the background. I found out today that Doug and I will be moving there in two weeks.

Downtown Abu Dhabi is behind me. If you look over my right shoulder you can see a building with what looks like a golf ball on it. Immediately to the left of this building is a slightly shorter, squarish building, and that is Sama Tower. It is 50 stories tall to give you an idea of the scale.

This shot of the skyline shows the absolutely gorgeous colors of the sand and the Arabian Gulf waters. Once it cools down a bit, I will be swimming at the beach across the way, The Corniche.

Finally at the end of our tour, Cathy took me to Sama Tower. I was very anxious to see where I would be living. Sama Tower currently houses the NYUAD adminstrative offices, student and faculty residences, the wellness center and fitness facilities, as well as meeting and lecture spaces. When the new campus opens next fall, everybody will move there. NYUAD opened three years ago, so the plan is that the first graduating class will actually graduate at the Saadiyat Island campus. 
An apartment will not be available for us for another two weeks, but I was able to visit a model 2-bedroom 1-1/2 bath residence. It is not so grand as the place we are living now, but it is still very nice with more than enough room for me and Doug..... and hopefully guests, should anyone wish to come visit us (hint hint). We will be on the 24th floor, and the floor-to-ceiling windows offer a magnificent view. It takes a lot off my mind to see where we will be living. Once we move and get settled, I will post some pictures. 

It is now late afternoon, and quite frankly I am a bit tired. I am not completely adjusted to this time zone - almost there, but not quite. TIme to kick off my sandals and relax.

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