I partied all night after my first photography show on Friday and somehow made it to the plane in Santa Ana on Saturday at six am. I’m now in Amsterdam airport and the first thing I noticed is that this place reminds me a lot of Frankfurt airport. Except that everyone speaks english and they have a starbucks . Usually people can’t figure out where I’m from but here everyone just assumes you’re not Danish.
As I got onto the KLM plane, I picked up a financial times and an arabic newspaper in front of the gate. The FT is written in the pretentious, condescending, know-it-all tone that you can hear everyday listening to BBC. British really know how to sound like assholes. The arabic one had little to write about anything other than war and middle east. It is obviously fairly myopic and looks like it doesn’t want people to know much more than what is in the region for pretty clear reasons.
As I was trying to go through the mess that print newspapers are in a cramped seat of the airplane, going from section to section to read an article that starts on one page and ends on the other and having to store sections for later making the paper impossible to read for anyone after me, I realized that I’m glad print is on it’s way out. What a terrible format to go through in order to get your news.
I got into Abu Dhabi to a pretty nice airport. It looks like one of those underwater base ports with little spherical pods branching out form a central large sphere, somewhat like the airport in Tel Aviv but smaller. Also instead of a globe on the bottom, the dome is decorated with an impressive mosaic that looks as if a huge fire hydrant geyser erupts from the center on first floor, travels in blue and orange diamonds to the top of the dome and then spreads over the dome surface evenly until it coats the entire surface down to the second floor.
The airport is packed due to small size and hub nature with people sitting and moving and standing all getting in eachother’s way. The dress is westner and eastern, with a lot of arabic tunics of mostly white and black color present. Not too many burkas but not too many women either as was expected since the country is a 2-1 ratio of men to women.
Catching a taxi was easy and inexpensive. Traveling along the wide empty well paved streets was relaxing as we passed long stretches of condos and houses with a rare green lit minaret making the trip less monotonous.
As we approached Salman’s friend James’s place in Reem Island, you could start to make out high rises. Many were not yet completed, they all looked lonely and dark.
James’s tower reminded me of the Bank of America building in Charlotte. Wide, expansive, with marble everywhere. The elevator asked for the floor number outside and no markings were on inside except for door open door closed button. Whisked to 63rd floor I was in a one bedroom apartment with a 63rd story view of Abu Dhabi.
Quick shower and we were out. But in the shower I realized that the thing that trully differentiates one country from another, one cultre from another, is how we take our shit. Each country has a different toilet and a different system for keeping our asses clean.
We trolled the city for a place to eat. After five months James still gets lost because the city like other Emirates, has no addresses. People navigate by landmarks and mail gets delivered to post offices.
The place ultimately reminded me of Reno, a wanna be Vegas as Abu Dhabi wants to be Dubai but is too plain, and too small.
We had some food on the seafront where many young Abu Dhabis enjoyed themselves. We watched Burka clad women try to walk on the sod in their 12 inch stilettos and the dozens of men sitting in their long robes and leave in their expensive cars. Many of them paid by the state just to have children.
We left the restaurant driving along the bank looking out onto the skyskcrapers and entering the Emir’s Palace that was converted into a palace after he died. It’s a new palace built in 2003 and it smells of Vegas. It feels like a hotel. A little too flashy and gaudy. Yet there are giant paintings of the Sheich everywhere. You still need a reservation to get in past the guards and some get it by looks or by knowing the right people. We saw a gorgeous blond prostitute stinding on the corner as we rounded the palace. From what James says; if they look too goo to be true here, they are.
The place seemed eerily quiet. It’s a Sunday night and it is supposed to be crowded on a weekend night. We roamed the marble, gold accented halls, walking into the dark asian themed bar. Four drinks and 65 bucks later. We were on our way home.
Next day awaits.. and I found out something even more interesting. There are a lot of things I’m not allowed to do. Like no porn or dating sites!!! I feel so bad for all the guys here who don’t get the girls…