Abu Dhabi hosted both the U.S. and French presidents this week - the same week in which the UAE saw record amounts of rain.
The roads here are flat, with no drains, so the water just sits. Puddles grow quickly into small ponds. People are not used to driving on wet roads in the UAE; there are more accidents even than usual. In the last few days we've received more than 100 millimeters of rain, surpassing the old record of 80-some odd millimeters, the newspapers said.
"There's a wadi in the kitchen!" I yelled, feigning alarm, when M arrived home from the office last night.
A wadi is Arabic for a "dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain," according to Wikipedia. Having been to "Wild Wadi," a fantastic water park in Dubai, M and I used to joke that we had our own wadi in our Abu Dhabi villa: when we moved in, the sprinklers outside the kitchen were facing the wrong way. Exterior doors here are not fitted with weather-stripping and the water poured right into the villa, morning after morning. It took a number of days to get this problem fixed.
After two days of rain this week, yesterday's downpour was the heaviest. Portions of major roads were closed and even some schools were closed in Abu Dhabi. Dubai was hit harder and the northern emirates suffered with flooding. When I stood in front of the kitchen sink last evening, my feet were in a pool of water. Seems it came in under the window, and created a mini-wadi across the floor.
Everyone I've talked to today has a small flood somewhere in his villa or flat, but noone seems terribly worried about it. Perhaps because all our homes have tile floors and eventually the water will disappear, or maybe because we don't own our homes? Probably a combination of both. And as one friend said, "Oh well, how often does it rain in Abu Dhabi, maybe twice a year?" True enough.
Regarding President Bush's visit, I feel he missed a great opportunity to strengthen his relationship with the UAE. And we very much need friends in this region.
On a lighter note, President Nicolas Sarkozy was here this week, just after President Bush. At a reception at the Emirates Palace Hotel, according to a French friend, a tent was set up outside to accomodate the large crowd of French citizens there to meet him. Unfortunately, the rain was so heavy it split the roof of the tent and water poured down on some of the guests!