Friday, August 13, 2010

From the camel to the Porsche

If you search the internet for photos of Abu Dhabi during the 60s and 70s, you will probably still find many images like this one where you can see a lot of sand, Bedouin tents and camels.

Now, look at the picture below… Amazing the transformation that occurred in less than 50 years right?!

My father was born in 1944 and I was born in 1976. During these 32 years between us a lot of changes took place in Brazil, but if we think about it, we can definitely still find some common realities. After all, his world is not that distant from mine.

Here in the United Arab Emirates, the impression I have is that people went from the camel to the Porsche in a matter of seconds. Literally. This immensely fast transition makes it seem as if there is a huge gap, like no real intersection point, between a couple of generations.

Up until the 60s, there were no buildings or paved streets in Abu Dhabi. The main means of transportation was indeed the camel. People shopped at ‘souks’ (sort of like a local market were you can buy or sell several products). Luxury hotels were nowhere to be seen.

Today, the setting has changed dramatically! You will find spectacular buildings capable of leaving engineers and architects all over the world speechless. You will check-in to the most luxurious hotels. You will spend hours in the most amazing malls enjoying some of the best brands in the world.

Staying hours on top of a camel is something from the past. Today the streets are full of modern, fast and expensive cars. Scratch that. Very expensive cars. Local food? Sure, you will be able to taste that. But if you prefer any other type of food you will have no problem finding it here.

In Abu Dhabi you will also find renowned institutions where you can pursue higher degrees in several areas: INSEAD, Universit√© Paris Sorbonne, New York University… They all have campuses here.

Into sports? You simply have to visit the Yas Marina Circuit (Yas Marina Circuit), stage of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, or try the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, that yearly unites some of the best golf players in the world.

And there is still much more to come! Abu Dhabi is investing hugely in tourism, education, health and culture.

On October 28, 2010, people will see the grand opening of the world’s first Ferrari theme park, and the largest of its kind, with over 20 attractions.

The Cleveland Clinic, one of America’s top hospitals, already operating the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (a network of healthcare facilities in Abu Dhabi), is actually set to develop and manage a 360-bed hospital and clinic. The hospital is scheduled to open in late 2012.

Would you believe me if I told you that an island currently under construction will have an entire Cultural District with some of the key museums in the world? Well, it’s true… Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District will be home to the Louvre and the Guggenheim, plus several other museums like the Zayed National Museum.

You can currently check out the plans in a great permanent exhibition in the Emirates Hotel, the biggest and most luxurious hotel in Abu Dhabi (and in my opinion, much more beautiful and sumptuous than the popular Burj Al Arab located in next door Dubai). Here are some pics of the hotel and exhibition for you…

For more info, try the following book and website:
- From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi, by Mohammed Al Fahim

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