Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
25° 21' N 55° 23' E
Apr 24, 2009 17:09
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Winter and Spring in the UAE

I lived in Sharjah/Dubai from August 2, 2008 until June 22nd 2009.  Was it a mistake to come here?  Do I regret this part of my life journey? 

To these questions the answer is NO.  I learned while living there to be more patient, humble, at peace, quiet and in grace.  Professionally, HCT was a complete waste of time, but the opportunity to work with less eager (or skilled) learners was a useful experience.   Working in an environment where professional trust, empowerment, openness, sharing, intellectual stimulation and candor were missing made me mindful of how essential these qualities are to a higher education institution.  Going to work, rather than to something I loved to do, made me aware how blessed I was at UBC for those 23 year glorious years.  Being overpaid clearly made me aware of how less important pay is in comparison to the quality of life.

Living in the Gulf was a fascinating experience, and that alone made everything worth while.  The Gulf is a difficult place to live, but in the process of living there you learn tolerance, letting go, and how different much of the world is from the West.  Although I have travelled all over the world, living outside the comforts of the West is something unique.  When you travel you know you can leave the next day; living there means that the unusualness of these foreign places becomes your norm, and that is neat.  I also learned after living in the Gulf that I can now live almost anywhere, and I have left Vancouver and the comforts of that city for the foreseeable future. I will regularly and gratefully return to Vancouver, and feel blessed that I lived there for over 50 years, but seeing and being elsewhere is more to my liking right now. And I know I will re-visit Dubai again and feel partly at home.

 The attached photos are pictures I took from November until just before I left in June.  Parting shots, so to speak. 

Photos / videos of "Winter and Spring in the UAE":

Shark in the largest above ground aquarium in the world.  Note, above ground, meaning there is parking or a storage floor below. There are many sharks in the tank. The reason they do not harm the other fish is that they are overfed and therefore not hungry or eager to hunt. Manta rays.  Beside having many sharks, the tank is also full of many mantra rays. The aquarium is in the Dubai Mall.  The aquarium is not the largest one in the world, but it is the largest above ground level.  Needless to say, it is very large.
The mall is the largest mall in the world, but that does little/nothing to me other than make me  want to leave. What you see is the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai.  Burj means tower.  The tower has been topped, meaning it will get no taller but it is not finished.  It has a very wide base and it quite narrow at the top.  Note, the buildings beside it are 50+ stories tall. A walk along Dubai Creek. One of the many water taxis that cross the creek.  It cost about $.30 to cross.  Exploring the Creek is one of the things you must do if you visit Dubai. Mother and baby camel.  Apparently the baby camel has been cloned, a first. A herd of camel in the desert.  Arabs take their camels very seriously. Jane and I out on a desert safari.  It is not particularly warm, but it is dusty. A bunch of 4 wheel drive SUV's out doing some organized "dune bashing".  We were in one such SUV and it went out in the desert and did some exciting driving and flying over the dunes.  Unfortunately one of the guests in the van had motion issues, so we had to be relatively tame. A simple camel ride.  Lasted all of one minute, but you get the idea.  Went on a several mile desert camel ride in Morocco, that was fun (but painful). All the tourist's SUV's getting together for our evening entertainment. Sunset in the dusty Arab desert.  It was very windy, but a great experience to go out in the desert. Jane and I with the desert behind us. Arabs ride jetskis in the lagoon in Sharjah.  These fellows have very fast jetskis and drive them at breakneck speeds. Water jet in the middle of the Sharjah lagoon.  I can see this from my building, but not my suite, as I do not look out to the lagoon. View of the lagoon in Sharjah.  I ran around this lagoon on June 23rd.  It was hot but not that unpleasant, must be getting used to the heat and humidity. Different view of the lagoon.  Where I live is quite nice, the best area in Sharjah.  In Dubai you will not find such open, gardened space.  I can run around the lagoon in 40 minutes.  The run is 6 K and all but 1 K is along a path with water on one side and grass/palm trees on the other side Sunset in Sharjah. On Al Mamzar beach. This was a great place to go to. I went most Saturdays. It was not crowded, the sand was white, water blue and very warm, and it had all the conveniences of a tropical beach. Arabs did not go here as they generally do not swim and the women, of course cannot wear swimsuits Another view of the Burj Dubai. Hotel Atlantis on Palm Jumeriah.  This is one of the most expensive hotels in the world, rooms start at about $1,000 per night.  It opened in September 2008, just when the world economy went sideways, very poor/bad timing. The Qasba in Sharjah.  I lived only a few blocks from the Qasba.  It was an upscale dining and entertainment area in Sharjah (but no alcohol).  After a while you get used to no wine and enjoy a bottle of fine water instead. Street entertainers in the Qasba.