I have greatly enjoyed my time here in Abu Dhabi. There are definitely many new buildings and opportunities arising out of this desert, changing and creating new horizons. It is amazing how much the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have grown in just a few decades of time. From small desert outposts to growing international communities. There are people working and living in Abu Dhabi from every known corner of the world. It has been wonderful to spend time learning from and talking to people from other places and other cultures. As much as I have enjoyed seeing and learning about the architecture and structures in the UAE, it is the people I met here that I will miss the most.
Although figuratively for me since, it is also nearing the end of my trip here to the UAE. This is the end of Abu Dhabi Island. Literally, these rocks prevent the sand from eroding away at the end of the Khalifa Port. They also provide a beautiful view for sitting down and looking out at the Arabian Gulf.
As it is with most journeys then end of one, is also the beginning of another. There will be more horizons waiting back in the USA.
The UAE was the first gulf nation to present a pavilion at Venis Biennale. This design built in Shanghai in 2010 rises and falls like a sand dune oriented along the wind. The passive solar space was designed by Foster + Partners. After the Expo the pavilion was moved to a new development and cultural center being built on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. When construction finishes, this district will including museums such as the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Although the interior of the pavilion is not open to visitors, except during an annual local arts fair, I was able to see the exterior of this wonderful design.
For more info on the pavilion: http://uaepavilion.org/uaepav/about-national-pavilion-of-the-uae/
For information and plans on other Saadiyat Island structures:
The Al Bahr Towers have a wonderful façade design for the climate here in Abu Dhabi. Designed by Aedas Architects and Arup Engineers worked together to design a folding active geometric patterned façade that actively moves throughout the day to block the sun from having a harsh direct impact on the building, but allowing a wonderful view out the windows when the sun is at an acceptable angle. I have had the opportunity to drive past these towers during different times of the day. Although unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good photo of it several times. I also learned that here in the Gulf region it is rather common for the architect to come up with a general façade concept and the sub contract out the actual technical design of the final façade. I don’t know how that worked for the Al Bahr Towers, but for many of the building surfaces here the facades can be quite complex.
Check out http://inhabitat.com/abu-dhabis-stunning-al-behar-towers-are-shaded-by-a-transforming-geometric-facade/ for more great info on the Al Bahr Towers.
Water usage and water conservation are hot topics for a country built mostly in a desert. The tap water that is available throughout the country is mostly from desalinated salt water. The tap water can be used for irrigation, cleaning things, and swimming pools. However it is not clean enough for drinking. Everyone drinks from bottled water. Either smaller 0.5 – 1.5 L bottles or larger ~ 5 gallon jugs like you would see in some offices in the United States. I have also noticed that several restaurants that are nationally themed like French or Italian will import the water that they server you from that country. I suppose that might make it seem more authentic, but really I cant taste the difference between the water bottled in Al Ain, UAE or imported from elsewhere. With everyone needing an average of 2L of water per day, that adds up to a lot of plastic bottles over the course of my stay here.
I watched the World Cup final from Stars and Bars on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi! Of course, since it is Ramadan there were no alcoholic drinks being served, but plenty of food and other refreshments since the game didn’t start till 11pm local time (well after sunset). It was a very good well played match on both sides. This was the first game I had watched in an American themed restaurant, so the game had already been on for several minutes before I realized that I could actually understand what the commentator was saying, because it was being broadcast in English! The few 8pm games that I had previously attempted watching were all broadcast in Arabic. Luckily, I do understand the basics of futbol, so that wasn’t necessary for me to understand what was going on. Although I think Argentina did well, I was glad to see Germany win especially since they had been playing well consistently through the entire tournament.
Ramadan Kareem. Have a blessed Islamic holy month. Just like people put up Christmas lights everywhere to celebrate the Christmas Season in the USA, people also put up twinkling lights to wish each other a blessed and happy holy month of fasting and feasting in the UAE. These lights are usually in the shape of various phases on the moon, particularly the crescent. You will also find them wrapped around palm trees instead of around evergreens. The main tradition of Ramadan is fasting from all food and drink, including water, from sunrise to sunset. Followed by sunset and pre-sunrise feasts to celebrate with family and friends as well as to consume enough food to last for the next day of fasting. Also like you find in the USA not everyone is not celebrates the holiday, such as expats or any workers from other countries who may also hold other religious beliefs and Muslims who can not fast for medical reasons. However out of respect for those who are fasting, no one is permitted to eat in public. Hotels and international restaurants with blocked windows are still permitted to serve food to guests and residents who cannot be seen while they are eating. . . at least until sunset.
Honestly, I couldn’t call my civil engineering / architecture student visit to Dubai complete without visiting the top of the Burj Kalifa. At over 800 m tall the Burj Kalifa is currently the world’s tallest building with the highest outdoor observation deck located on its 124th floor. After the high speed elevator ride of 10 m/s I stepped out of the elevator to see nothing but sky through the giant panoramic windows. Stepping closer to the windows, I could see the city of Dubai far below me. Cars took on the scale of ants. All of the other tall buildings in the city looked like very well done architectural models. The tower itself rises in levels as it soars up to reach the sky. Held up by a buttressed core structural system. Check out the Burj Kalifa’s website with lots of cool information and facts about the building and its construction: http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/TheTower/TheTower.aspx