Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eid Holiday & Seaside Exploring

At the end of this week, Ramadan ends... and I can tell you it hasnt been as big a deal as I thought it would be.  We havent been going to the Malls as much during the days on the weekends, but thats because the girls have made a number of friends in our community and have spent many days riding bikes and swimming.  In addition, Niki and I have also met the parents of these kids and we're striking up quite a decent social circle.

Its been nice to start to fit in and feel comfortable at home!

But the final week of Ramadan is deemed to be the holier week and firstly the kids' school put on an Iftar Buffet at the local hotel and we went along to that on Sunday night.  It was a good opportunity to mix and meet people and it was a big but chaotic spread of food and (soft) drink.

Tomorrow night, my work is putting on its annual Iftar Buffet and all the family is invited down to Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi for a big spread.  You can think of Ramadan as the western version of Xmas and whilst it goes on for a month, its got the same sort of vibe.  Charities are prominent, gift giving seems to be frequent and it generally has that "be good to others" vibe.

At the end of Ramadan, is another holiday called Eid.  I am not sure if anything special happens, but at the sighting of the new moon, Ramadan ends and there is a three day holiday.  Then apparently, and it wont be confirmed until last minute, but alot of government agencies close down for an additional day or 2 and that will include my company.  So I think next week, I may get the whole week off!

We were planning to go away, then we werent, and then one of our neighbours suggested we go to the east coast of the UAE to a place called Fujierah and stay there... so our neighbour was coordinating hotel rooms on a mass booking basis for us, them and two other families.  Haven't heard if they were successful, but it'd be nice to get away and see a bit more of the country.

Speaking of which, we went last weekend to a water park called Dreamland in an emirate call Ras al Khaimah which is in the north.  Ras al Khaimah (or RAK) is a little known emirate in comparison to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Its on the other side of Sharjah and driving out of Dubai into Sharjah and then into RAK you got a very big sense of difference between the have's and the have nots in the UAE.  Dubai has the largesse of investment and Abu Dhabi has the oil, but Sharjah and RAK are more quaint and give you an insight into what the Emirates was like before the big boom.  Lots of farming, lots of wild camels, goats and donkeys and a more seaside and sedate lifestyle.  Before the big oil rush, the UAE was a country that got alot of its income from pearl diving... so it was interesting to see what it was perhaps like 30+ years ago.

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