Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year - Welcome 2011!!!!!

Christmas 2010
OK...I know, it's been a while and I have finally gotten around to starting to write again. The kids have just returned to school after nearly a month off, needless to say it is hard to get things done with them home and being on the move. We didn't travel this year since we just moved here, there is still lots of local things we wanted to see. Also, since Christmas isn't a religious holiday here Chip didn't have any days off so to was easier to stick around. We have lots of plans for the upcoming year so decided just to stay put. 

Fountain show at the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall, taken from our table at Outback Steakhouse:)
That being said - we had a nice holiday. I've attached some pictures of the holiday parties the kids had at school and the NYE party we had at a friend's house. The fireworks from the Palm are amazing, we really do live in one of the coolest places in the World (I think:) From our beach we have views of the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa and other Dubai landmarks. The Burj Al Arab is supposed to be the only 7 seven star hotel in the world. Tom Cruise just stayed there (we was hush hush) while filming Mission Impossible. It is crazy expensive. We are hoping to get to go to a meal there one day but probably will never stay unless it is during tghe summer and rates go WAY down. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. We visited the top (a must do if you visit here) and I've attached some of those pics too. It is quite an area as you see from the pictures. Lots of restaurants with views of the Burj and the fountain which goes off every 30 minutes during peak visiting times. It "dances" to music with lights and fire. Pretty cool. The area is also attached to the Dubai Mall, which I believe is the biggest mall in the world. It is BIG. I always think how much I would love my mother in law to come visit - she and I would never leave the place as she has the same appreciation for shopping that I do! I even sent her the map of the mall in the mail  so she could start studying:)

So...let's see, what else. I wanted to answer some questions I got recently from a friend via email about living here. I think I may have mentioned some in prior blogs but will address again - 
where is dubai?  what is it like?  how far away is it? what time zone is it in? you have a So it is warm there? Is it arabic? Is it in asia?  Is it safe there? 

The Burj Khalifa
Dubai is an Emirate in the United Arab Emirates, the capital of the Emirates is Abu Dhabi. The UAE is a very new country, in fact this year they just celebrated 39 years (so it is still older than me!)
We are in the continent of Asia, very close to India and Northern Africa. Also, very close to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Dubai is comprised of about 80% expats and only 20% local Emirates - so it is very diverse and we love that about it.
The main religion is Islam and many people speak Arabic although everyone speaks English here. The kids are learning Arabic in the American School so hopefully they will know the "local" language one day too. The Muslim people here are very nice, especially to women and the crime is very low because the laws are enforced and the police are very good. Because the religion is tied to the laws people don't normally break the law - since it will be going agaisnt the Quran too. In other words, Muslims don't drink so you don't have many drinking related incidents and hardly any drinking and driving issues. The visitors know better then to drink and drive and taxis are very cheap. On NYE in Dubai there was not a single vehicle incident related to drinking and driving reported. Not ONE.
You feel very safe here with kids - kids are the center of the world here. Everything, everywhere is kid friendly. We love that about Dubai, and love the weather and living on a beach. The weather during winter is about 80 degrees during the day and a little cooler at night. You can go on the beach year round. The summer is brutual- very hot but that is why the kids and I will leave for the summers:) Most expats do.
We are 10 hours ahead of Kansas City, 9 hours ahead of FL. 

Hopefully that answers some questions. My dad also asked about Christmas and yes, they celebrate Christmas here. There are lots of Christmas trees, presents, Santas, etc. although it isn't a Muslim holiday per se they like to celebrate the Santa part of it..presents, etc. so it is very decorative around Christmas. And everyone says MERRY CHRISTmas here - not Happy Holidays. There are lots of Christians here so it is a nice holiday with lots of meaning in this part of the world too. You may have heard of the $11million tree in Abu Dhabi that made the news everywhere. Once again the country of extravagance takes the cake:) On any single day here we will drive by a few Ferraris, at least one Lambroghini and a Rolls Royce or two. I think Porsche Cayenne's are the most popular car here - they are everywhere.

Courtyard of ASD - the boy's new school
I'm also attaching pictures of the kid's new school. It was just finished and we moved from the old campus to the new one just yesterday. The school week is Sun- Thur since Friday is the religious day here - so even Christian churches have services on Friday. The new American School of Dubai (ASD) is amazing. It is state of the art and goes K-12. It has 2 swimming pools, 5 soccer pitches, 2 playgrounds, 4 tennis courts, 2 libraries, 2 cafeterias, etc..and it's all brand new! The kids are very excited and I love it because it's only 5 minutes from the house. The school has been around since 1966 in Dubai so it was time for a new place to call home.

Weston's Kindergarten class

The kids are still taking ski/snowboard lessons at Ski Dubai in preparation for our Spring Break trip in April. We'll be heading to Milan, Italy taking the Bernina Express train through the Alps to St Moritz, then heading over to Zurich and flying back. It's about a 6 hour plane ride and we are all excited about our first ski trip in Europe and the boy's first one ever. I need to take lessons now since the boys have surpassed me already. 

Ok, think I'm caught up for now. Even though we like our new home we miss everyone back in the states. It is hard adjusting once again to life abroad and starting over making new friends, etc. but it is a great place to do it. Chip really likes his job working with the Ministry of Health (for Cerner still) and I'm slowly getting settled in. I'm looking forward to Spring Break and summer - we will head back to FL for the summer and I'm anxious to see family and friends and catching up. If I come home every summer I figure I'll see everyone in FL more than I saw them when we were in KC! And as far as my KC friends - come visit us in FL! 

HAPPY 2011 EVERYONE!!!!!!!! The view from our beach on NYE at midnight, to the left (the sailboat building) is the Burj Al Arab hotel and the right side is the vertical fireworks at the Burj Khalifa
(Thanks to our friend Mike for the rights to use his picture - he is an amazing photographer!)

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