INGULFED

(Notes for the Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah)

Archive for Ramadan

Bronzage — برونزاج

It is now the final day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day celebration commemorating the end of thirty days of f(e)asting and its resulting indigestion. The conclusion of the month of Ramadan is a time for family gatherings, hardcore chilling (not a litteral Qur’anic translation), and reflection.

To recap these wet hot Arabian nights, I will say that the choices of things to do are somewhat limited, but always deeply connected to the spirit of the city. A few days ago, the Kuwaiti national soccer team challenged the UAE home team in Al Nahyan Stadium, a 12,000 seat park practically connected to Al-Wahda Mall (malls are a really big deal).

Even for the national team and free tickets, and perhaps because of the I’ll-just-sit ethic of the month, not many more than a thousand spectators turned out. Here, the club teams are still the bigger attraction, a not so subtle reminder that only four decades ago the arab emirates were not united and that local rivalries between neighboring towns or tribes or cities still remain a fundamental part of the culture.

The crowd.

The crowd.

This is not to say these rivalries extend beyond the football pitch — there I have no idea. The fact that Bears fans (allegedly) throw cheese at Packers fans doesn’t (necessarily) have any bearing (pun intended) on the relation between Illinoisans and Minnesotans. But it might.
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A Stopped Clock — ساعة موقوفة

Day One

Woke up in a new place. Turned out the gulf was right out my window, draped in a haze of sand that dropped like a wall a few hundred meters offshore. And holy crowned prince! — I’m already thinking in meters.

According to my schedule, my first day in the UAE and my first day at work began at 9:30. At 9, I stepped outside and the heat punched me by surprise, even though the morning was a relatively cool one. It was about 105, which in Celsius… is some other number.

My job is with the brand new New York University Abu Dhabi, located until 2014 in the Madinat Zayed neighborhood of downtown Abu Dhabi. (In February 2014, the University will move to Saadiyat Island, the site of numerous architectural and artistic endeavors, including new branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre.) And in the glistening purple and gray buildings, I kind of learned what sorts of things I will be doing for the (at the very least) next 53 weeks.

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