"Now this is where you should've had the camera," my husband said when he picked me up at the Abu Dhabi Ladies Club the other night. It was 10 p.m., the end of an international bazaar/fundraiser for special-needs children in the area. I'd been volunteering at the United States table.
I looked around the large room with its multi-level, white marble floors, high ceiling and glass-lined, curving stairs. It was a colorful a scene: there were numerous flags draped over the upstairs railing and ladies on the ground floor in bright cottons from South Africa, black abayas from the U.A.E., and brilliant silk saris from India, to name a few.
At the countries' individual tables, the diversity continued. Azerbaijanis displayed rugs of rich reds and browns, Italians offered expensive, hand-made lace shawls and modern art, and Jordanians presented skin-care products from the Dead Sea, among others.
At the U.S. table, myself and two other Americans were selling t-shirts, pens, mugs and the like with the U.S. Embassy logo on them. (Local Emirati children who stopped by were most interested in our few Mickey Mouse trinkets.) Beside us were ladies from Eritrea. We were in business attire; they wore floor-length, gauze-cotton dresses and head coverings and some wore elaborate jewelry.
With my husband's comment about the camera, I realized I've gotten so used to the variety of cultures in Abu Dhabi that I've begun to not notice it. I've made friends with many of the women present. I've stopped seeing the countries and started only seeing the people.
Near closing time, an Emirati (in national dress) stopped by our table, introduced himself, and asked how long each of us had been in the U.A.E. He welcomed us to his country. He'd gone to college in Washington state and loved his time in the U. S. He wished us well. I hope I'm as friendly to visitors when I return to live in New Hampshire.
It was a nice evening.