The second plane ride to Abu Dhabi didn’t seem as glamorous as the first. Not that anything had changed, I was just in a different state of mind. We arrived during the tail end of Ramadan which means that since Muslims fast from dawn until dusk all of the restaurants were wrapped in white paper or somehow blocked from public view. The city was extremely quiet in a weird and eerie way and this time I got the message loud and clear that we were in a Muslim country.
We called the Westin Resort home for almost three months until we found our own villa. Many would consider this paradise but due to the swarms of people at the weekly Friday brunch the pool never felt pee free. Although the hospital picked up the tab for our extended stay, we were left to scrounge the city for our own meals due to the high price of resort food. We started venturing out to find something, anything, remotely recognizable to ease our way into foreign food consumption but the first few days were difficult due to Ramadan. On the third day, Ramadan was over and Eid al-Fitr, the official fast breaking holiday, began. Imagine if Christmas shopping wasn’t permitted until three days prior and then someone opened up the mall doors. It was a huge tidal wave of people that poured into the shopping center and the shoppers ran like they were on fire. It was our first experience mingling with the world’s greatest shoppers and the entire experience made me feel a little dizzy.
Since my hubby had a few days off for the Eid we decided to go to Dubai for the weekend and stay at the Atlantis hotel. The Atlantis is built on the very end of the Palm Dubai and has one of the most awesome water parks in the world. The place was packed elbow to elbow with thousands of our closest Muslim friends enjoying their holiday. And this would be my official introduction to the ever stylish Muslim swimsuit; the Burkini. God bless the person who invented these things because it allows these ladies to take a much needed break from the desert heat. But, I must say, it is very odd to see two women standing together and one is in a Muslim swimsuit and the other is in a skimpy bikini. It is also odd to see the teenage girls in the pink one-piece version of the burkini which is constructed of some thin, clingy material that tends to ride up into every orifice in their body creating the illusion of nudity which is a very far cry from their innocent intentions. Another odd sight was a couple with matching t-shirts. His read “I’m Old Faithful” and her’s read “I Sleep with Old Faithful.” Definitely not something I imagined seeing on a Muslim couple at a family water park. Just goes to show you that things are not always as we believe them to be because before moving to the Middle East I thought my bare knees would be highly offensive but nobody here really gives a hoot except for maybe a few cranky old traditionalist. I was relieved to see everyone enjoying themselves in the miss-mosh of culture at the Atlantis water park.