Went to Abu Dhabi looking for the elusive visa again but this time we stayed overnight at a friend's house. It was great to compare notes about Dubai and Abu Dhabi and talk about the inter-emirate competitiveness which is essentially what passes for politics here! It was also interesting to get a grasp of the extent to which Abu Dhabi really is another country.
This is immediately obvious at that point on the Sheikh Zayed Road when you cross the 'border' and suddenly there are trees and a green belt. Lots of delicately drooping branches separating the lanes of traffic, and what look like orchards stretching out beyond each side of the road. It's a startling abundance of green which is mesmerising after the sandy, silver-grey, high rise tunnel out of Dubai and then the barren road which follows.
When you drive back the other way it's an abrupt change to the barren and then you are mesmerised again, but this time by the sheer spectacle of the towering concrete and steel, tree-less reality of this stage and definition of progress.
I know that there will be trees, greenery and lakes to humanise the environment around these construction projects when they are complete but the environmental border shock seems quite appropriate. It's like an early warning system as you enter Dubai of what is going to greet you further down the road.
The billboards erected down each side add to the impression that anything natural has been removed. Occasionally there will be an uncovered board and the patchwork of different shades of plywood looks like a huge canvas study of the colour brown and is quite a relief for the eye while stuck in the traffic. You also rest your eyes on the advertising of course and I don't know what or who Emirates Neon is but if you buy it.. or him.. or her, it will change your life!
Decided a suitable pic to illustrate this entry is the Ghaf tree....