Saturday was a big day for me. It started with two swimming races in Dubai, followed by a photography class and then my first Emirati wedding in the evening.
The race, called the Mina Mile, was actually five different races, and you can choose to race one, two or all of them. Since I had a photography class to attended (free when I purchased my new Nikon D7100) at 11am, I had to do the two earliest races. The races are in a secluded bay behind the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi hotel. It was a beautiful backdrop for the race. Anyway, I swam the 800 meter race first, then about a half hour later I swam a 400 meter race. I did pretty well, though I really don’t enjoy the start of the race. You are swimming on top of people, or being swum on top of! I prefer to just be in open water on my own! Here is a picture of me finishing one of the races (not sure which):
Later that evening I joined some of my co-workers at the wedding. One of the geology teachers had invited us to her nephew’s wedding here in Al Ain. When we arrived in the wedding hall we were greeted with Arabic coffee and perfume. Once we found our table, we were entertained by some dancers and massive amounts of drinks and perfumes. I have never been asked if I wanted coffee or tea so much in my entire life. We sat, chatted and ate lots of good food.
After a while, the co-worker who’d invited us said that Sheikh Zayed’s wife was there, seated at the table next to us. Later we were told that actually two royals were there, Sheikha Fatima and Sheikha Aisha. We didn’t to speak with them, but since our tables were so close we were able to watch when the bride entered the hall and came to greet them, and when they left with their entourage.
It was a lovely wedding event and I am glad I finally got to have one of the major cultural experiences for expats here. It is very different than a wedding at home because the men and women celebrate separately. The women get a video feed of the men’s celebrations, but the only man who sees inside the women’s celebration is the groom. The groom visits the women for a little bit, then returns to the men’s celebration.
On another note, the TV show The Amazing Race filmed its most recent episode (One Hot Camel) here in Al Ain. You can watch it on You Tube or CBS.com if you are interested in seeing some live action shots of where I live.