November 2009

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Global Village

Global Village was the place to be last night. There must have been 50,000 people there. The Eid and National Day holiday week certainly increased the crowds, but we were told that it is pretty popular every night. The highlights were the Afghanistan Pavilion where Beth found the most amazing fashion accessory ever, the Palestine Pavilion where we purchased the most beautiful bowls, and the human cannonball show. We have to go back because we ran out of cash before we could purchase any of the special Yemeni honey that is for married couples only.


The USA Pavilion

Morning at the Beach

Eid Al Adha and Thanksgiving

These two holidays will not share a calendar date for another 10,000 years. So to celebrate, we went to lunch at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and had fish and chips and caesar salad.


Getting ready for UAE National Day.


Evidence.


The mustached guy with the purple hat and vest was the creepiest part of our day. At one point moments before this photo, he was following us around with this crazed look. We didn’t stick around long enough to see what he did to Barney. Why were there costumed characters walking around the resort pool area? Why not?


On the way out from the resort, Beth spotted this Desert Hare next to the gate.


On the way home we stopped in the desert to take some nature-calendar-shots.


I was lucky enough to get a rare shot of a fully grown Desert Hare in its natural habitat coming up over the next dune.


They can be ferocious creatures. My excellent leporidae communication skills surely saved me from a similar fate.

Metro Date Night #1

Art Bus to the Abu Dhabi Art Fair

mf_the_machinery_30_blades__low_res
Mounir Fatmi “The Machinery” 2009

Elizabeth and I went to the preview opening of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair at the invitation of thejamjar gallery. It was an amazing evening of VIP atmosphere and gorgeous weather. The only problem is that as we boarded the Art Bus, we realized that we had forgotten the camera. It is such a shame because the entire night was so photographic. Oh well. The only real VIP we spotted (after Marcello pointed him out to us) was Jean Nouvel as he inspected a large silver painted contoured wire frame gorilla.

We saw some great classic pieces among the contemporary mix. There were entire rooms devoted to Miro and to Calder for example. Of course the YBAs were prominently displayed. And there were a lot of interesting works by contemporary Arab artists like the one above by Mounir Fatmi. The verses on the blades are from the Qu’ran and Hadiths on the subjects of God and Beauty.

The galleries area opened up onto the expansive beach side plaza of the Emirates Palace Hotel where large installations continued including one by Calder. That was where you could grab your hors d’ouvres and a glass of wine or beer as they were carried around by the catering staff. The staff with the wine came around randomly and not quite frequently enough so that they were often being slowly chased by interested persons which had a sort of comic effect.

At the beach there was a pavilion set up with an outdoor majlis with a gentle breeze where most everyone ended up, sitting smoking shisha, chatting and gazing out into the pristine waters of the gulf where a large Arabic typographic installation piece was set up 20 meters out into the dark blue water.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary



I’ll have to get back to RAKWS since I showed up at closing time. But I did take some interesting photos from the perimeter of the reserve. From the website:

In October 2007 UNESCO, the Ramsar Convention’s legal depositary, announced that the United Arab Emirates is a declared Ramsar partner and that the Convention will enter into force on 29 December 2007. The UAE’s first Ramsar site is Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary (620 hectares), an area of sabkha saline flats, intertidal mudflats and mangroves, small lagoons and pools, and a few tiny islands which lies at the interface between the Arabian Gulf and the Al Awir Desert in the Emirate of Dubai – the name means ‘head of creek’ in reference to the 14km long watercourse known as the Dubai Creek, which is an important waterway in the area that serves as a focal point for the social and cultural life of Dubai.




During winter the site supports more than 20,000 waterbirds of 67 species and acts as a critical staging ground for the wintering birds of the East African-West Asian Flyway. The site hosts more than 500 species of flora and fauna and is one of the best-managed arid zone wetlands in the region. Located within Dubai city, it is an important tourist spot and received visitors from 98 countries in 2005-6. A marine biological field laboratory is present, and a visitors’ centre is under construction.




I pasted some cropped versions of the photographs of this beautiful blue-winged bird together here. The shot in the previous image is copied into the upper left corner.





The famous pink flamingos! I’ll get a closer look next time during visiting hours…








Yesterday, Bill Clinton spoke at AUD. The take-away content-wise is that he is speaking a more progressive-minded language about income disparity and the dangers of unregulated capitalism. If only he had acted with that mind while he was in office instead of triangulating with Phil Graham and Alan Greenspan to set up the arena for the bubble-collapse rich-get-richer system in which we find ourselves. But enough about hindsight. Always forward!


bubble-collapse metaphor?

The event itself had a very uplifting pep-rally theme.

We were in the front row of seats directly behind the back aisle which meant that once the speech had started we were unfortunately the victims of the standing-room-only situation and the late arrival of some high school students in front of us who made comprehension a challenge. So we left early and sadly had to miss the balloon drop. But we heard it was amazing and provided the industrious and spirited students with the great opportunity to demonstrate, on a massive scale, global economic implosions while Clinton made for the helicopter.