Firstly, I've updated my post “A Day at the Beach” with some pictures.
So, when I returned from a vacation in Canada a while back a bunch of the guys were planning a weekend in the UAE. Why?
Renowned Canadian comedian Russell Peters was doing a show in Abu Dhabi and while I was in Canada the guys bought me a ticket. I really like Russell Peters, and some of the Qatari guys absolutely love his stuff. Yes, Qataris love North American stand up comedy. No, I don't know why.
So that was certainly a good excuse for a guys-weekend!
Sorting out the visa was a bit of a pain (Canadians need a visa to travel to the UAE, something that has prevented me from going to the UAE more often). Strangely enough the guys wanted to stay in Dubai, not Abu Dhabi, and we'd travel to Abu Dhabi for the concert and come back. They liked Dubai better and that was cool with me as it would allow me to catch up with my friends Serdar & Linda who live there now.
So we rented some cars:
The hotel was in the Marina area. I hadn't been to this area for over three years and most of it is complete now. The Marina is now an incomprehensible maze of skyscrapers but the walkway near the beach was nice and was packed with people walking along and visiting the various shops and restaurants. This made the traffic in this neighborhood a nightmare, even at 1:30 in the morning it took us a half hour to go a kilometer.
The city appears to be picking up again after the financial crisis and subsequent property crash hit the city like a thunderbolt. There was definitely more people around in the malls and attractions seemed busier than the last time I was there. We wandered around the city, visiting places like Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa.
Before we headed out to Abu Dhabi.
And got there in time for the show.
The show was great, with Russell doing a lot of picking on people in the crowd, a standard part of his act. He is really funny when he picks on the audience but he is not mean or really insulting like many other comedians (despite that, we had tickets far enough away that there was no chance we were going to get pointed out -- the guys didn't want to be picked on). We all had a good time but the Qataris, being devout Muslims, were a bit annoyed that the venue served alcohol and you were allowed to bring it to your seat. It made the place smell strongly of beer, which they really disliked. Abu Dhabi is clearly more liberal about alcohol than Qatar.
The next day after a late breakfast we wandered out to the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeriah to check out the aquarium,
then some of us headed over to Mall of the Emirates to do a bit of shopping and look at Ski Dubai, the indoor ski slope. It even had a new penguin exhibit.
Most of the guys then caught earlier flights home but my friend Mostafa and I had a later flight so we met with my friends Serdar & Linda for dinner before heading back to the airport. Unfortunately there were delays with the flight so I didn't get home until 1am but all in all it was a great (and halal) trip.
On the other hand, waking up for work that morning was a real pain.