Round three of pictures from the UAE. Seeing as how I'm leaving in a couple weeks, this will probably be the last batch. Although if anyone has requests (can't imagine how they'd know what to request?!?), I guess there's still time for that. If you missed out, you can still find Episode 1: Abu Dhabi / AUS and Episode 2: UAE Tourist pictures online. Most of the interest those generated seemed to revolve around AUS itself, and where I'm living, so that's what this page focuses on. Sorry if that doesn't interest you; direct all bitching to the bit-bucket.
|Desert sunrise. A great day for taking pictures! (Ed. note: it was a great day for about half an hour. Then it started warming up, and hit a high of 44c while I was still out in the middle of shadeless nowhere...)|
|Here's our exit. AUS is situated in University City, which is in the suburb of Moweyleh (or Moweileh, or Muwaileh, or... The Arabic spelling is the only authoritative one). Moweyleh is mostly of note for containing University City, the airport, a military base, and a couple hundred square miles of nothing.|
|One last look back towards Sharjah. Note the vast expanses of nothingness. The first buldings you see in the distance are Madinat Zayed (Zayed City), about 5km - 10km away and encroaching fast. Basically a pre-fabricated "instant" city built to provide low-cost housing.|
And now back towards University City. This "city" comprises an 8km-long boulevard (in the center of the picture) with a half dozen institutions of higher education along either side (all the buildings you can see in this picture are part of University City). I'm not entirely sure what the point of gathering them all in one place is... mostly administrative, I guess. The colleges and universities all have big fences / walls around them with checkpoints through which you can only pass if you have official business at the institution (or are a student, etc). So it's not like there's much benefit gained from the students being able to mingle, or share resources, or anything. I guess it does look impressive, though.
|University City Main Gate.|
|And now, quite literally, on the Road to AUS. This is the University City boulevard. AUS is at the other end, 8km away. That little tiny building at the very far end of the road.|
|The first building on the right is the University City's City Hall (try saying that one cliché times fast). Again, administrative? I don't really know what goes on there. To the best of my understanding, University City is not incorporated as a jurisdiction separate from Sharjah (in fact, nothing is in the sense that we know it in Canada), so who knows what the point of a City Hall is.|
|The main branch of the Sharjah Public Library. This thing is just too damn immense to properly fit into one frame. It's the first building on the left in the panorama, 4 pictures up. That might give a better sense of the whole thing.|
|Next on the right is the Sharjah University. It's a government university, as opposed to places like AUS which are private. I think it has about 2-3 times the student population, although for obvious reasons the standard of education isn't quite the same.|
|And then on the left is the Higher Colleges of Technology. Also government. This pic had to be taken a bit surreptitiously, as it's the women's campus, and they didn't particularly like the idea of me running around taking pictures of all the girls. :-P I wasn't paying attention when I passed the men's campus, and by the time I realized I'd passed it, it would have meant an extra hour to go back, take a picture, and return. So you get this through-the-fence shot instead.|
|Halfway down the street is the clock tower. In the background is the Sharjah Arts Academy. One of the sheikh's daughters is an aspiring artist of some sort, and pushed the idea, so they built a college for her.|
|Next on the left is the Sharjah College for Police Sciences. Another one they didn't want me taking pictures of, so this is a long shot from inside AUS. Looks appropriately like a castle.|
|And across the street from the police academy will someday be the Etisalat University. Etisalat is actually the phone (and telecommunications, etc.) company in the UAE. Still government, but tends to operate with as much autonomy as anything around here. Anyway, what started out as an effort to train UAE nationals to become employees within the company (engineers and whatnot) turned into a full scale diploma-granting college, and now a university. Or soon to be, anyway. Until that opens, they run the Etisalat College for Engineering, the quality of which (given that they are trying to train their own future employees) is actually pretty decent.|
|Back on the Road to AUS. Almost there. Now visible as something more than a blurry thing on the horizon.|
|Yup, you're allowed inside. Well, I am, anyway. And you're with me.|
|But just before we go in, a quick peek around the side. This the AUS ring road, where I spend every day (eek, well, recently it's been more like every second -- or third -- day) running for an hour. You can see how exciting the scenery is...|
|The AUS main building, which we've been eyeing all along, in all its nighttime glory. The campus is very pretty at night.|
|The front of the main building, looking sideways down the arcade that runs the width of its façade.|
|And a side detail of the same building again.|
|The physics building, in the basement of which I spend far far too much time reading Tabnet.|
|And one of the many plazas, looking towards the business building. I hate this plaza. It's the last one I have to cross in the mornings when I'm running, late for class. Life would be so much easier if it just wasn't there.|
Ah, my favourite phone booth. Given that 99.99% of AUS'
population carries a mobile phone, there's only one phone booth
on the entire campus (well, not quite true. There are a few
in the dorms, but I can use my room phone from there, anyway).
I have spent a lot of very warm afternoons in this phone booth.
"What," you say? "Warm?"|
Yeah... look at those shadows on the ground... see how crisp they are?
|A lot of the AUS campus looks very similar to other parts. For example, here we see the chemistry and physics buildings...|
|...and here the engineering buildings, way on the other side of campus. They're all equally pretty, though.|
|And the campus mosque, with a little tiny sliver of moon behind it. I should have taken the picture a couple days earlier, when the moon was a lot more prominent. That's one of my favourite campus views.|
|And this is another one. Coming from the so-called "Starbucks Plaza" (where you will find the Starbucks -- duh -- and other outlets vending ostensibly edible goods), towards the main plaza. I like how the archway frames the tree. Business and chemistry buildings straight ahead, student center on left.|
And my favourite palm tree. On the road down to the dorm areas.
In another month or so, this will bear an abundance of fresh
dates. Mmm... fresh dates. Right off the tree... So good...|
Especially first thing in the morning when you're walking to class and you need something to wake you up... SUGAR!!
And if you're wondering why this particular tree out of all of them is my favourite, it's simply because its dates taste the best. Not sure why. Just a little secret from me to you.
|And here we are in the dorm areas.|
|And here we are at my dorm. With all the cars parked immediately outside in defiance of the notices promising that any cars parked right outside the door will be ticketed. I don't think I've ever seen any tickets issued. But they keep posting the notices up every couple weeks. This is a nice place to eat Eftaar meals during Ramadhan.|
The Al Falah military base just a couple hundred yards away. This was taken from the roof of my dorm. If anyone decides to go to war with the UAE, it wouldn't take much of a mis-aim for a bomb to obliterate AUS instead of the base.
If you go down to street level, there are all kinds of signs saying "Do not take pictures!" etc. I was going to take a picture of one of them, just for laughs, but I chickened out. Mainly because it's an expensive camera, and it's not mine. I wouldn't want it to be confiscated.
Looking back from AUS towards University City. Specifically at Sharjah University, looking for all the world like Theed (the capital city of Naboo), from Star Wars Episoide I. I love this view.
|And the same thing, at night.|
The whole of University City, stretching off into the distance, from the AUS main building.
And now we're off from the university, for a walk through Moweyleh. This is Sharjah Airport. More random prettiness.
|Moweyleh is pretty empty for most of it. A couple of new houses. Very weird-looking. Most newer Arab houses are rather weird-looking. There are three basic styles. Dump, weird and palace. Depending on the financial wherewithal of the builder, I guess. Moweyleh is full of weird.|
|Most of the streets in Moweyleh are still unpaved. Hell, most of the streets in Sharjah are still unpaved, even the ones right downtown. They spend a lot of money on the main roads, and anything else can just go to hell. That's pretty symptomatic of the attitude towards a lot of things here, actually.|
|Looking back at AUS from Moweyleh.|
And the Moweyleh co-op. Very strange. It's just a big supermarket. In the middle of the desert. With no apparent reason for its existence. It doesn't seem to ever get many customers, but I dunno. Not that I'm complaining. It's always fully-stocked, and the half-hour walk to Moweyleh beats the full evening you have to sacrifice to take the bus into Sharjah to do shopping.
But it is kinda weird just having this supermarket plunked down in the middle of nowhere.
|Well... nowhere, that is, except for the mosque across the street, anyway.|
So I'm not allowed to be juvenile every now and then?
|Okay, Moweyleh is boring. More action is to be had on Wasit Road, a big shopping area in Sharjah, where you can take a bus three times a week. Well, actually, the bus drops you off at the "Fine Fair Commercial Complex", which is 3 blocks from Wasit Road.|
Cheap neon signs, as far as the eye can see!|
Wasit Road is one of those places about which it is claimed that there's very little you can't find.
|Including nut roasteries curiously dressed up like bridal boutiques. This sort of thing is more common than one might expect.|
|The big mosque at the top of Wasit Road. Just a nice picture.|
|A couple blocks from Wasit Road is Cultural Square, where you can find all kinds of impressive-looking buildings. Very little identification, for the most part. I think they're government, although only some are labeled as such. There's also (yet another) big mosque, as well as a museum, in the area.|
|More unidentified Cultural Square goodness.|
And that's all for now. I return you to your prior
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