I spent almost 5 days in Abu Dhabi and I wouldn’t exactly call it a vacation destination… Did I mention that is is 22 hours of flight time? It is a very expensive city ($100 dinner for one) that is full of heat, sand, and construction. No old souks, lots of strip malls, Rolex watches on wrists as far as the eye can see, construction workers wearing flip-flops while wielding in the high steel… I find that the place has very little soul compared to places like Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon. My magazines were censored with a black marker (really, really!) and I found that even some Wikipedia entries were censored. Not a huge fan.
On a positive note, I will say that the architecture in the UAE is fantastic. Serious aesthetic lessons could be learned by western students taking a semester to look at the body of work there – Office and apartment buildings with color, striking lines, curving details. Really beautiful buildings!
So, I got there and the sun was pouring down and it was 90 degrees out. I had no sunscreen and I stopped by the hotel store to pick up a bottle. The small Asian clerk had her back to me when I asked and she started telling me that they had 5,7,10, 15 SPF and turns to look at me. She gave me the once over and reached all the way left and grabs the 50SPF for babies and says, “you chubby and very white. You burn easy. Better you have this one.” Son of a… I know I am pale, but did she have to throw chubby in there?!? I find that middle aged ladies of the Asian persuasion are brutally honest. The next night I am eating Thai food and my waitress asks if I want some sort of pudding for desert and as I am saying ‘no thank you’, she smiles and says, “Better you don’t have it anyway.” I guess I gave her a puzzled look and the shoots back with, “You have desert a lot, missing this one will be good for you.” I am 5’8″ tall and weigh 173 pounds!! I wear a size 43/44 coat and 32 pants. It is not like they rolled me into the place on a cart. I do have 10 pounds of cookie weigh from the holidays that I still cannot shake – 10 pounds!! Man, run away from any tiny Thai/Viet/Chinese/etc… women in Abu Dhabi if your ego is teetering on fragile.