Monday, March 17, 2014

The land of sun and falcons

As it's snowed today in both Stockholm and my hometown, Annapolis (how is this happening on St Paddy's Day?!?), I thought it might be a good time to re-visit NS' and my trip to visit M & N in Abu Dhabi last month. A reminder that warmer temperatures do exist somewhere at least...

Have you heard of falconry? The practice of hunting with falcons? I would say it's an art, if not a way of life for many people in the United Arab Emirates, as our trip to Abu Dhabi brought to light. 

me feeding a quail to this falcon

The sheikh (pronounced shake) - the ruler of the land - has 300 falcons at his disposal, and brings them all along on his 3-week trips into the depths of the desert in search of what little wildlife is out there. His entourage sets up a mini-city transported by hundreds of vehicles to the middle of nowhere as a base camp - the most luxurious camping you've ever seen. And each day he chooses a few prized falcons to bring on his excursion. What a life.

Falcons can even have their own passports, and are given their own seats on flights. Can you imagine sitting next to one?

Abu Dhabi is also home to one of the world's largest mosques - and undoubtedly the most grandiose - the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. There's space for 40,000 worshippers inside, lined up in straight rows along the world's largest hand-woven carpet. It's truly a life-size Aladdin palace, no expense spared.

I thought I was safe with my head scarf and long skirt, but I couldn't show my arms either so here I am

NS and I splurged on an escape to luxury at one of Abu Dhabi's many beach clubs, this one at the Monte Carlo Hotel on Saadiyat Beach. A warm, turquoise infinity pool overlooking the Persian Gulf flanked by enormous sun beds was all we needed for an afternoon in the sun. It was heaven...


And on our last day in AD, we got to see the Red Bull Air Race soar through the skies above Abu Dhabi. It was by far the most impressive display of aerial feats I've ever seen (sorry Blue Angels, but you just don't compare). 

I guess the colored smoke helps (it's food coloring!)

Thank you so much to our fabulous hosts M&N for an incredible week of discoveries, sun, and amazing smoothies and falafel. 

we don't wanna leave!


  1. Wow! Great photos! Looks like an amazing trip. I would be tempted to stay at the beach resort in one of those beds the entire time, melting out occasionally for a dip in the cool water. :-)

    1. Thanks Grace Ann!! The beach club was soooo nice! Unfortunately the beds were like 300sek extra, so we settled for the beach chairs behind them, but it was still great :)

  2. Looks like you felt a little nervous being so close to the falcon....kept your eyes on that carnivorous bird of prey! The aerial show must have been incredible. Food coloring...incredible?!?! I know you enjoyed the beach club. Thanks to M&N for their hospitality!

    1. Thanks for reading, Mom! Yes, I was a bit nervous - they're big birds! Some great memories to keep with us :)