Let me pretense this with we are not actually leaving Abu Dhabi, but rather we are leaving a slice of time for which we were there. Spec Ops Technology still has offices in Dubai (expanding in the Emirates too…) and will require us to be back at least twice a year, but the period for which we lived…existed… is for now gone. My Father always told me as we bounced around the globe growing up, when you are somewhere it is like your hand in a bucket of water. The moment you remove your hand the water fills in around you. No matter how many times you go back after, it is a different (not bad) experience than what you remember.
Our first year of marriage started with Abu Dhabi. Two days before our wedding I flew to the States and the day following our nuptials I flew back. The Middle East will forever be ingrained with the first year of married life. When I left Berlin in 2012, I did so somewhat teary eyed due to the joy of being back in Germany. I had been to the U.A.E. multiple times the past few years, but only for a few days or a week at a time. The thought of moving there made me disappointed in the road ahead.
My girlfriend (and now Wife) were a short 8 hour flight away. Now though, with the move to Abu Dhabi, she was going to be 16 hours away. My once a month home trips were going to greatly elongate. The first month or two I treated it as any place I live in, find something you like. For the first time I was coming up short.
It was after my Wife was laid off that it changed. She moved over and for a short time we lived in a very small hotel room. Think Holiday Inn Express, but of the French leanings. Slowly we migrated to an apartment and begin to explore the area together. What we found, much to the surprise of family and friends, was a culture and people so welcoming and accommodating we could not help but fall in love with the area.
Any American familiar with the region via their local news cast automatically assumes we were minutes away from a car bomb or mortar attack. In fact we were in a place that people didn’t lock doors, the people were nice, and the safety surpassed most of the world. In many ways the freedoms we enjoy in the United States were amplified by the multi-cultural society in Abu Dhabi. Dinner talks were often intertwined with 3 or 4 different types of world citizens strewn around us.
Our first reaction when coming to the U.A.E. was to travel and getaway. We certainly did that by exploring the Maldives, Oman, Cyprus, and countless other places. What we found though as the wheels of our Etihad flight touched down in Abu Dhabi was a sense of home. When we began to explore the country that had welcomed us so willingly. was a beauty unlike that we could find in Europe or the United States. The Liwa Desert and Sir Bani Yas Island opened our eyes to the different ways landscape can warp your views.
The food….OH THE FOOD! Since we have accepted that we will be home for a while we have scoured the internet diligently looking for Lebanese, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern food types we will soon be missing. There is something about the cooking that is radically different from the sensibilities of the Western Palate.
So, while leaving Berlin was a sad affair just 18 months ago, leaving Abu Dhabi takes the cake of recent life. Inshallah, we will be back soon. If you are offered the opportunity to ever live in the region, we recommend it with all the jealousy that will stem from it. I wish all Americans would go spend time in the area to re-baseline their views of Islam and Middle Easterners. Most of all though, Shukran to the people there. Thank you for your welcome smiles and wonderful countries. You will forever be part of our first year of marriage and views of the world.
Some images of our travels and time around the region: