One of the biggest adjustments to living in Abu Dhabi has been that the leaves don’t change; a visual reminder that the holidays are approaching. The temperature has dropped from the 110+F to a more comfortable low 90s, but it is mid November and all the vegetation is still green. For me, November is time for Thanksgiving (yes, I’m American) and the site of holiday decorations in the stores. But in Abu Dhabi this is the time to go outside and enjoy the pleasant weather. Restaurants have set out their outdoor seating and the beaches are crowed. I’m not complaining…I spent last weekend on a paddle board exploring the Eastern Mangrove region. (That’s me in the pink top.)
But not to fear…the holiday season, complete with Christmas blend Starbucks coffee and mall decorations, is fully present in Abu Dhabi.
My husband and I stopped in the local Ace Hardware store last week and I immediately turned into a giggly 5-year old girl upon seeing the huge Christmas trees and rows and rows of holidays decorations. Everything one could possibly want to add holiday cheer to the home. It was all there…lights, wreaths, life size Santas, tree toppers. I couldn’t resist and added a small tree and this lovely book to our cart.
All the malls add traditional holiday decorations to their stores, but the ones nearest the expat areas really show their holiday spirit. The Abu Dhabi Mall, shown below, features a three story Christmas tree and Winter Village, complete with a jolly old British Santa. Photos with Santa are free and come with candy! I love watching families of all faiths and nationalities que (line up) to have a moment with Santa.
This year, we are staying in the area for the holidays. We have made reservations at the JW Marriot Marquis in Dubai and will spend a few days there to ring in the new year. We have reservations at the “Vault” on the 72nd floor for New Years Eve. Our table looks onto the Burj Khalifa which will be the site for a huge fireworks display at midnight.