My first full day in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and I am all alone in the hotel. The most important task for me during this trip is to locate a potential school for Mini Max. This means that I have to leave the safety of my hotel room (remember in my head I am still envisioning that this place is the wild, wild Middle East) and wander out into the masses of immigrants – and there are thousands of immigrants. Of the two million or so people who live in Abu Dhabi only 25% are Emiratis. It takes an enormous amount of immigrants to build and sustain this city. The city is packed with low-income, uneducated workers and these people typically roam around keeping quietly to themselves because it ‘s probably their first time out of their home country and they don’t speak the language. Most of the immigrants are from India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some (not many) are from different regions of Africa. At first they are a little frightening because as Americans we are not used to seeing people from areas that are so poor and so under-developed. At first, they appeared barbaric but eventually I got used to seeing them and realized that I have nothing to worry about because the crime rate here is very low and the place is extremely safe. (Bicycle pic below shows my compound in the background).
The hotel arranged a driver to take me to my appointment for a tour of the school we would consider enrolling Mini in if we moved to the UAE. All expat children attend private school because the public schools are for Muslims only. There are schools with different curriculums from different countries, and I am on my way to a new school that was recently opened, and the ribbon cut, by none other than President Clinton. The school is, by no stretch of the imagination, the most beautiful school I have ever seen. It has a 3D planetarium, indoor swimming pools/gym, astroturf soccer fields, tennis courts, a black box theater, a production studio, Apple sound/video labs, dance studios, science labs etc. I could go on and on…but I think you get the picture. I finished the tour and had one thing to say, “SOLD!” If we move here this will be Mini’s school.