Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Beauty of Abu Dhabi

Since the very first day of my arrival here, I have set one personal goal. As a photography enthusiast, I wanted to capture the beauty of the Abu Dhabi skyline at night on film--digital that is.

I spent several evenings near the Emirates Palace Hotel trying to frame the picture down the left side of the miles long row of tall buildings. I won't use the word "sky-scraper." You have to go to Dubai for that. Anyway, I just wasn't able to frame the photo right. From the waterfront I could see across the bay to a small peninsula that extended just beyond the Marina Mall. There is an unusual building there, and next to it is what was the world's tallest flag pole, with the UAE flag proudly displayed at the top. I decided that was where I needed to go.

I inquired as to what the place was. I was told that it is the Heritage Village, a place for visitors to learn about Abu Dhabi's history.

My first trip there proved a waste of time for landing the desired shot. During that same week, desert winds blew dust into the city, and the lingering haze had not yet completely departed. Shooting across the bay that night wasn't going to happen. But the trip was not at all a waste.

I found treasure in the people there.

This one little spot of land across the bay from the city is a gathering place on "Friday night" here (the last work day of the week is Thursday). People come here for the view. They come to visit with family and friends. They come to chat. And they come to make new friends. On that, my first evening there, I made lots of new friends. And I did it with my Canon 10D digital camera.

The whole "Be mister Olan Mills for the evening thing stared when I politely asked a really nice looking family if I could take their photo.

What started as a single snapshot for my collection turned into the complete package--8x10's, 5x7's, and wallets. No, I didn't charge anyone a dime. I sent the photos free-of-charge by email.

In the span of ten minutes, I knew this man's name, and the names of his visiting parents from India. His father, a very distinguishing man was retired from the Indian Royal Air Force. A delightful family.

Then there was the family from Egypt. I snapped a photo of their catch of the day overy the shoulder of one of their own doing the same thing.

That started another portfolio. They were not only very "photo-genic," they really enjoyed having their picture taken. Before I was done, I had a standing invitation to be a guest in their home the next time I made it to Cairo. Patricia
has always wanted to see the Great Pyramids.
This flagpole, although not very well seen in the darkness, is the one I mentioned earlier, once the tallest flagpole in the world. Think of the difficulty I must have had in framing this photo. The building in the background is the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village. Makes for a pretty backdrop doesn't it? One last photo for now. The boardwalk out to the point is always filled with activity. Kids playing, seniors sitting, roller-bladers. I wasn't expecting to be part of what appeared to be an attempt to photograph a CD cover. That's the only logical explanation I could come up with for the photo I captured of these two guys.
The neat thing about the picture is the picture-within-the-picture. Remember that nice family in the first photo above?
Anyway, I did finally capture that skyline shot. You might have missed it at the top. It is a treasure for me. But not as valuable as the few minutes I spent with perfect strangers that treated me like family. Such is the beauty of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

1 comment:

  1. Cool Story - Great Photos. I'm sure the one of Abu Dhabi night skyline was hard to capture it looks great on the blog. Those were some pitiful little fish, I hope if that's all the family has to eat that Jesus will come by and multiply them.