Abu Dhabi dull

Abu Dhabi’s not like Dubai. Abu Dhabi, with a history going back nearly five thousand years, is an older and more conservative city, and certainly feels it. Dubai, the spectacular modern metropolis rising out of the desert, veritably crackles with energy. Abu Dhabi, though larger, feels smaller, and has few of awe-inspiring, record-setting engineering wonders for which its sister-emirate to the north is so famous. Abu Dhabi may have more history, but Dubai has more cool, which is why I greeted news that I would have to leave Dubai for Abu Dhabi with little enthusiasm. The last time I was in Abu Dhabi, 27 years ago, heavily armed ... [Read More]

Souks, shopping and sheesha

My friend Eileen has a knack for making completely outrageous statements with such confidence that it takes a minute to realize what she’s said is insane. My new favorite example of this came when we were all out in the middle of the hot, dry desert and Eileen remarked that the climate in Dubai was “just like Wyoming.” This came immediately after she’d described Wyoming’s harsh winters and snow storms. Soo, Paul and I looked at each other for a moment waiting for the punch line that must surely follow. None came, and as is usually the case when Eileen makes these sorts of pronouncements, we had ... [Read More]

Tom Cruise didn’t fall off the Burj Khalifa.

I’ve traveled with a lot of people over the years, and in my experience it takes the average American visiting exotic cultures about a week before they’re desperately craving “American food.” It took Paul Newman three days. On our way back from a morning appointment we passed a mall with a “Texas Chicken” fast food joint out front. For the next hour little came out of Paul’s mouth besides the words “Texas Chicken” (and he was only mildly bothered by the fact that Texas isn’t exactly a state famous for chicken. We also saw a stand hawking “famous New York French Fries.” In naming their establishments do ... [Read More]

Dune Bashing in Dubai

As we go through life we have experiences we never forget; a moment with friends, a kiss the memory of which never fails to stir butterflies in our stomachs, an adventure so thrilling it makes our heart pound every time we think on it. Today was one such day. Its beginning was not nearly so exciting as its end. We’re in the United Arab Emirates for meetings in Dubai and a conference in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), another Emirate about 90 minutes up the coast from Dubai. There are five of us, with lots of luggage, including large display banners for an exhibit booth. We had arranged well in ... [Read More]

Destination Dubai

  As so often happens when I travel, disaster struck my intended destination just as I was on my way. This time it wasn’t a hurricane or a tsunami that decided to join me on my trip; it was a terrorist attack, originating in Yemen, which routed through Dubai hours before my flight departed Atlanta. This heightened security in Atlanta, and sent my colleague Paul Newman into a near-panic. He announced (repeatedly) that had I not been on this trip he likely would’ve made some excuse and cancelled altogether. Soo and I decided to have a drink with Paul before boarding our flight to help calm his frayed ... [Read More]