It seems like everyone and their Mom is heading off to Dubai and Abu Dhabs and I must admit that a part of me has complete FOMO and wants to go work there, tomorrow. But past experiences have made me cautious so, rather than committing to a two year stint right off the bat, I popped out to visit some friends who had made the move. My Easter break was a busy one so let me give you my U.A.E observations and you make up your own mind.
Turkish Airlines had flights for €500 and my accommodation costs were low because I was staying with friends, which means…..more disposable income to live like the Emiratis do! Well, within reason ,’cos I still have my rent to pay, and also I’m not blowing all my pay check on a week in Abu Dhabi, I thought! I flew via Istanbul in March, when there weren’t too many problems but considering the current political climate you may want to check out Skyscanner where I spotted flights with Etihad for €458. A steal, really!
Upon arrival and after a much needed nap I was treated to afternoon tea at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. So freeking excited!! Luxury hotels are a treat and certainly not an everyday occurrence at home. Afternoon tea has become one of my favourite things to do. Birthdays, Mother’s Day celebrations, visiting friends, just because it’s Saturday. Any excuse, really! and despite it being complete decadent ‘notions’, I love the concept and ceremony of it all. So of course when the chance to dine at the Jumeirah came up I was already there, with bells on and my crisp linen napkin in my lap, eagerly awaiting the dainty teacups and triangular sandwiches. Honestly not really caring what they were filled with!
Staying in the Jumeirah my friend and I went up to Ray’s Bar for cocktails and admired the stunning city night lights view from the bar. You make a great first impression, Abu Dhabi!
No time to rest as the decadence tour continued. A unanimous decision to flit to the Emirates Palace to continue my research into the cocktail selections of Abu Dhabi’s bars meant the next stop on our list was Havana Club in the palace. I am not one to often let my jaw hit the floor but when your hotel is famed for having gold leaf on the walls and even boasts a gold ATM, then it is certainly worth a visit. Even the cappuccinos are sprinkled with 24 carat gold. Absolute notions!
My first night in the Middle East and already I was becoming swallowed up by the opulence, by the opportunity to dine and play at the most beautiful and elegant of hotels and restaurants, as if it were an everyday occurrence. The chance to lose yourself in the sheer luxury of it all, despite knowing it was fleeting, was bliss. The phrase ‘treat yo’self’ has never more truly applied. When in the sand box, enjoy every moment. Record the memories so that you can play them back like an indulgent Belle Epoque film reel when, in reality, you’re waiting at the Luas stop on a freezing evening in Dublin, with some asshoop blowing cigarette smoke in your face. Think of that evening you spent with a great friend, all dressed up, at a golden palace sipping mojitos. What are we like! Let’s not talk about how much drinks cost in the desert. Sssshh. Just don’t think about it.
Right so, after all of that gold, its time for a beach day. I have never taken as many taxis as I did that week in Abu Dhabi. The cheap petrol means they are the easiest form of transport when you are carless in the desert and boy did we make full use of them. A short trip out to Saadiyat Island for some sun soakage was on the cards.
I was told that Yas Island is also a fun hot spot but when you only have so much time, you can only hit up so many amazing beaches!
Besides there were more hotels and restaurants that needed to be visited and their delights sampled! I’m looking at you St Regis and Ritz Carlton. My friend, Mair, really showed me the fun side of Abu Dhabi during my visit. We ate at The Meat Co, Souk Qaryat Al Beri and had some enormous portions of food. Huge. Could feed a village sized portions. Delicious none the less. The staff’s rendition of Jambo Bwana to entertain the diners evoked fond memories of my trip to Kenya over ten years ago and yes I am very aware of how obnoxious that sounded. #dontcare #ilovethatsong
Cocktails and catch ups with friends were needed and the Ritz Carlton’s fairy lights on the terrace was the perfect setting.
Between lazy beach days and thirsty cocktail nights, I needed to fit in some culture. Where else but a visit to the Grand Mosque. The entire white stone building and compound looks so immaculate and clean that you want to make sure you don’t grub it up before you step inside. It is definitely one of the most stunning buildings I have ever seen and one of the most beautiful places of worship.
Just enough time on my Middle Eastern visit to spend all my wages, believe for a moment that this lifestyle is attainable and catch my breath at the beauty and lavish wealth on show. Desert life for expats means you work hard and play hard. The Abu Dhabi bubble is one you could easily stay immersed in for years. Why would you want to leave? AND they have a Dunkin’ Donuts!!! Sigh, I just love Bavarian Cremes.
وداعا Abu Dhabi. Inshallah I’ll see you again.