Monday, October 22, 2007

Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi

Over the recent Eid Al Fitr, the holiday following Ramadan, we went to the opening of Khalifa Park in Abu Dhabi. Though there's a lot of pavement running through the middle of the park, there are beautiful side lawns and lots of monkey-bars for younger children to play on. I plan to go back, when the weather is cooler, with a thermos of tea and a notebook for writing.

Despite the fact that we were the first on the platform for next the train ride around the park, we barely got on. Most Abu Dhabians do not queu for things - they just go right to the front of the line! Once on board, we waited 40 minutes before the train moved: people who'd been on the train were refusing to get off so others could ride. The police had to come to make them deboard.
As we pulled up to the platform at the end of the tour, people began lifting their children over the chain into our compartment before I'd even stood up. I could barely get off the train. A woman in an abaya and veil grabbed my hand with her hennaed one.

"Sorry," she said. Through the cut-out part of her veil, I could see her eyes. She was smiling sincerely, holding my hand as if she knew me. Suddenly we were just two mothers, and it was obvious that she hadn't meant any offense - she merely wanted to make sure that she and her little ones got a seat.

"It's okay," I said. I smiled back just as sincerely.

My rambunctious 8-year-old found this slide was more his speed than the train. Even climbing the stairs was exciting. Lots of children were cutting the line - a woman in an abaya was even helping a group of children to do so. But then the park staff intervened: as the "cutters" climbed over the side wall of the stairs, the staffers hit their hands as fast as they could and the children backed off. Noone batted an eye at the cutting or the swatting.

Whenever I see a garden or a fountain in Abu Dhabi I am grateful to whomever is responsible for adding beauty to this city. This photo, taken by M of course, was on our way out of Khalifa Park.
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usamom said...


I am an American mom with two children from California. We are also moving to Abu Dhabi in March of this year. We are coming for our site visit next week. Our contract is only 18 months and I am most conserned as to where we should live. I would love any input from another American mom as yourself. I have very active boys, 3 and 6. Thanks so much!!!

Frances Gunnison said...

Sorry I just saw your comment today. I wonder if you've already arrived. If you see this message, e-mail me at and I will try to meet you somewhere in Abu Dhabi. If I can help I would be happy to.

kfa said...

Hi. I am an American mom with 3 girls from California. We are considering a job offer in Abu Dhabi. I would appreciate your input on where to live. We are thinking of sending our girls to the American Community School and would like to live close to the school. Also, any US expat experience/advice would be helpful and appreciated!

Anonymous said...


I am an American mom moving to Abu Dhabi in about two months. We live in Birmingham, Alabama now but I am also from Southern California. Please send me your e-mail. Mine is