My husband and I spent the holiday at the amazing JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai. Yes, Dubai…the site of the horrific fire last night. More on that in a moment. We made our reservations six months ago and everything was perfect. Our evening began with photos in the lobby and dinner at the Tong Thai restaurant in the hotel. The set menu, served family style, included five different appetizers, soup, sorbet, six main course dishes, and dessert. Apparently since I stay at Marriott properties a lot, the staff knew my birthday was in just a few days and surprised me with cake and a song. So much food…and this was only the beginning of the evening.
Afterwards we headed to the Vault on the 72nd floor. We had reserved our table, looking onto the Burj Khalifa. To my surprise we were table #1, and had the very best view of the Dubai skyline. On one side we could see all the way into the dessert on the outer limits of Dubia; on the other, we could see the beach and the Burj Arabia.
Unfortunately, this also meant that we were witness to the terrible fire that engulfed The Address, a luxury hotel and apartment building attached to the Dubai Mall and near the Burj Khalifa. At first, we thought the flames shooting up the side of the building was a video, but quickly realized they were real. Everyone in the Vault stood at the windows helpless, watching the flames engulf the building. All only prayed that everyone makes it out safely.
As of this afternoon, the fire was out; only 16 minor injuries were reported. One person did suffer a heart attack and there has been no word on his/her condition. This is stunning given how fast the fire spread and knowing that the hotel, all 63 floors, was booked solid, and their bars and lounges on the top floors would have been packed.
What a start to the new year. One we will not soon forget. So Happy New Year to you all and here’s to all the joys and adventures of 2016.
Last week Kevin and I spent the afternoon at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Heritage Exhibition. Food, crafts, and FALCONS! I was captivated by the birds. They were so beautiful. Many dealers were present selling everything a bird owner could possibly need, from frozen rats to custom fitted hoods. I could have spent hours taking photos. Below are just a few of the images from that day, followed by an article explaining the history of falconry in the UAE.
Falconry is an integral part of desert life which has been practiced in the UAE for centuries. Originally, falcons were used for hunting, to supplement the Bedouin diet with some meat, such as hare or houbara. In the time before the UAE was formed, and before the discovery of oil allowed the development of roads and communication systems, hunting expeditions were also frequently used as a way for the tribal sheikhs to ‘tour’ their territory and keep in touch with the latest developments in areas which were otherwise incommunicado. The sheikh would hunt during the day, then a desert majlis would be held around the campfire in the evenings, when the Bedouin would come to pay their respects and raise with him any matters of concern.
Nowadays, falconry is practiced purely for sport. The main prey for falcons in the UAE are MacQueen’s bustard, houbara, or hare. There is now a very successful captive breeding programme in the UAE for houbara, ensuring that this popular sport does not eliminate this species.
I have accepted a position as an associate professor at the Emirates College for Advance Education, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. http://ecae.ac.ae/
I will help establish the new graduate program in curriculum and instruction and educational technology. Kevin and I leave around August 10th. Classes begin Aug. 31.
My husband and I are both very excited about this adventure.