My first visit to Abu Dhabi occurred courtesy of Zayed University and Rashid Azeem Khan. Rashid was a witness to my teaching days at the new campus of FAST ICS in 1996 and somehow over the last 15 years we had managed to stay in touch. He coerced his then boss in passing out an invitation for me to speak at the Zayed University annual convention and off Fawzia and I went for a two day trip underwritten by the technology group at the University. The knowledge worker presentation I made at that group was the first of many presentations I have made since then on the psyche of a technology professional. As with most things in AD, the university, its professor and the technology group played the classy host to the hilt and put us up at the Beach Rotana and the convention at the then recently opened Emirates Place hotel.
Fast forward four years and Nasr my partner in crim in UAE and the Middle East dropped me a line in late January wondeirng if I would be game for another teaching engagement at the second most profitable bank in UAE. We packaged our standard training proposal which was reasonably well received and then drove down to Abu Dhabi via Dubai to finalize the course outline as well as meet the business users.
And that is how the two of ended up shuttling between Dubai and Abu Dhabi last week.
A few things were immediately noticeable. The newly opened YAS/F1/Marina route reduced the transit time into Abu Dhabi proper by about 45 -50 minutes. From Ibn-Battuta Mall in Dubai to the Corniche now only took ninety minutes keeping well within the speed limit on Shaikh Zayed Road.
Abu Dhabi was on a major construction kick with an underpass on one of the main arteries in the city (Salam), and numerous high rise structures in various stages of completion. And the Corniche with its emerald green, crystal clear waters was just as gorgeous as we had found it on our last trip. Taxies were cheaper since a 40 minute ride cost about 12 dirhams (40 Dirhams in Dubai). But compared to Dubai, the city was very understated. As long as you stayed on the outer ring roads, it’s a gorgeous place to be with wide open, green roads. But the inner city is where you start noticing the traffic and the parking nightmare.
On the first night Nasr had put us up at the Sheraton Resort and after spending 2 hours to get to the hotel despite having it within our sights through out that period, for our next night we simply moved to the Sheraton Khalidya. While the resort was beautifully laid out with its own private beach and pier, the Sheraton Khaliday was closer to where we needed to be to run the training workshop.