UAE Pictures

Uh, yeah. Just various pictures from AUS and other places around the UAE. If you don't know me or otherwise have an interest in AUS / the UAE, these probably won't be of much interest. Please excuse the crappy-ass quality; they were just taken with one of those cheap disposable cameras. Most of them were taken in the period Oct 2001 through Feb 2002.

There are also some more "touristy" pictures to be found here.
Update (May 2003): a very large third set of pictures, from AUS and around Sharjah, can be found here.

So this is probably one of my favourite signs from anywhere in the world. Found in various locations around the country; this example is on the main Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway. I think it kinda speaks for itself.
Speaking of road signs, this species is especially common in this country. They are little signs littering all the major roads at every 2 or 3 km, with religious ephithets and Qur'anic excerpts on them. This specific example encourages the reader to "put your trust in Allah." Most contain similar messages. I think it goes without saying that there is no separation of state and religion here.
Welcome to Abu Dhabi. One thing I often find interesting are all the various "modern" stores around. In many respects the UAE is reminiscent of 1950's North America. One example is that the relationship here with "modernity" has not yet grown stale. To this effect there are ubiquitous stores named "modern," "future," "automatic," "progress" and so on. The connotation that, for example, "automatic" has in North America of being dull and homogenous is notably absent, as is any concern about putting human workers out of their job. "Hand crafted" is not a compliment here.
Progress Gents Saloon. Another example of the same.
And another saloon. Two for one, actually (although the blue sign is unfortunately illegible). Yee haw! The many "saloons" are often a source of amusement for newcomers. Illumination comes when one realizes that they are actually hair salons. But when translated into Arabic, the words "saloon" and "salon" are identical. Combine this with the fact that many people here learned English by watching Hollywood movies (often prominently featuring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood) and the source of the confusion is revealed. I especially like them because of the "Wild West" feel they carry, which is extremely appropriate. This place is totally like the Wild West. The bigger your guns, the more you get away with. Except here they call it "wasta."
This is the same building as the last picture, but from a different angle. The building is probably no more than 10 or 15 years old; those struts were a later addition. Their cause is a complete lack of building codes as we know them. Plus an incredible construction boom (Abu Dhabi was all palm frond shacks and dirt roads as recently as 1973), plus owners willing to exert that old wasta thing to cut corners and you have an "instant city" (pop: 850,000, up from 5,000, no tyops there) that is falling apart 10 years later. At the upper left corner, you can see its neighbour, an elegant and sleek glass office tower that is typical of most newer buildings. One wonders how long it will last. On the surface, things look like they are changing but it's hard to tell how much of that is real and how much illusion. I'd say that almost half the buildings in the city (again, dating mostly from the early 1980s onwards) have been razed and rebuilt at least once.
Another older building. This pic taken from my parents' balcony. Here I draw your attention to the roof. On the right are a large cluster of satellite dishes. Just barely visible in this picture you will notice a bunch of little black lines superimposed over the top floor of the building. Now those would be many dozens of cables leading from those satellite dishes to each and every window in the building so that their tenants can watch Baywatch Hawaii, V.I.P. and the various movie channels which actually feature the occasional bare female breast (something quite unheard of 10 years ago, I assure you)! There are all sorts of cultural ramifications of this that are quite beyond the scope of this page. Sex and the city, indeed!
Ah, the happy smilin' shwarma man! For those of you unfamiliar with the beast, a shwarma is similar to a donair (except it hails from Lebanon rather than Greece). They are sold at roadside stands like this all over the Middle East for about 70 cents (probably considerably less in poorer countries). Delicious as all hell. This guy is across the street from my parents' place and knows my preferences by heart (no pickles, extra garlic). He's always super happy to see people (especially if they might be customers) and has a perpetual smile (unfortunately invisible in this picture). Hence, the "happy smilin' shwarma man."
I think I'd rather patronize the happy smilin' shwarma man than this place. A restaurant that goes by the name "bullet" just scares me.
Speaking of food, we are now in Sharjah, on-campus at AUS. This is the "Ram'adhan Plaza," where during the entire month of Ram'adhan there are big (free!) buffets for the hour after Iftar (sunset). Popular with the students!
And this is a Ram'adhan sunset, taken from the roof of my dorm building. It shows the main campus area rather nicely.
This is the same shot, taken from ground level (my room window). The gardens look nicer than they really are (especially during the middle of the day when it's blazing HOT out and they offer scant shade...) In the midground you can see the Stupid Fence (TM) that encloses the dorm areas and only has one exit and I have to walk an extra quarter mile each way to get to, when I'm late for classes and it's hot out and... sorry. I'm ranting again.
The AUS main building. Administration, theater and libraries. As seen in the pics above. Taken from the steps of the Physics building, in the basement of which is currently crammed the Computer Science department. At least until they hurry up and finish the new CS building.
The campus mosque. At least, the main campus mosque. There are two others (along with numerous prayer rooms) around, but they're smaller and nowhere near as pretty. Engineering 1 on the left, bank / post office / bookstore on right.
Dorm building. Alas, not the one I'm in. This is the really nice one, with courtyard and private bathrooms and kitchens and rooms the size of your average apartment (which in fact they basically are) and cost AED 15000 (about $CA 6000) per term. Instead of mine which costs less than a third that and doesn't look/feel like a luxury hotel.
The AUS baseball / cricket field. Exists more on the map than in reality.
Signs like are posted up all over the dorm. This particular specimen was discovered in the kitchen a short while back. They are all printed in the same pseudo-1970s-teletype font and all prefixed with "Urgent Notice." I prefer to call them "Incomprehensible Notice." This one was good for wasting time while my food was cooking trying to figure out exactly what the author was trying so urgently to get across. For some unknown reason the "good" in "It Is A good Help To Your Dorm." is the only word in the entire urgent notice that is not capitalized. Luckily, "dorm staff" speaks better Engrish than he writes.

And that's all for now. I return you to your prior aimless browsing.

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