Friday, 22 March 2019

Qasr Al Watan

Last Monday a new landmark opened its doors here in the capital, Qasr Al Watan 'Palace of the Nation', inside the Presidential Palace complex.

Yesterday I finally had a free morning so I brought my friend Ulrika and went to visit. I had high expectations of something extraordinary, and I sure wasn't disappointed! Once they opened the huge doors to the entrance, my jaw literally dropped... what an amazing building!

The interior is nothing but exquisite, decorated using white, yellow and blue to signify the landscape of our region. You are welcome to wander around the magnificent Great Hall, the heart of the building, which is nothing else than breathtaking; as well as explore the east and west wings. There is also a room filled with a selection of various diplomatic gifted to the UAE president, displayed for the first time.

In the west wing you can learn more about the formation of the UAE and its governance, and you get access to halls typically reserved for state visits, state dinners and the meetings of global leaders.

In the east wing, also called the House of Knowledge, there are on display a vast collection of artifacts and rare manuscripts highlighting the Arab world's contribution to fields including arts, literature and humanities. I spent quite some time here as you might understand, a lot of useful information here that I can incorporate in my tours.

At Al Barza, we got to see a multimedia show, which introduced the role of the traditional majlis.

My favourite part was this sculpure by Mattar bin Lahej. The artist let himself get inspired by a famous quote by the late Sheikh Zayed: "Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in the people, and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve the people."

You are also allowed to go for a walk and enjoy the palace gardens outside. We didn't have much time left at this stage, so we only had a brief look around, but such a stunning, stunning place..!

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Confirmation Prep

While I was in Horsham, Lucas was having a great time at his camp. They certainly had a full program and had time for so much in only a couple of days.

All the kids stayed at the church, there were 48 kids and 12 leaders. Not only the Dubai group obviously, they were only six in their group; but also kids from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain. Most of them Norwegian, so they communicated mostly in English.

On the Friday they went for a bit of sightseeing in central London. They visited the Sky Garden and Madame Tussauds, had lunch in town and in the afternoon they went to Westminster Abbey to take part in the Evening Prayer.

Lucas and Shrek, at Madame Tussauds:

On the Saturday they had all been playing a big game, the Amazing Race, and in the afternoon they all went to the Queens Theatre together, to see 'Les Misérables'. (Somewhere in between there, Lucas also had time to shop a pair of shoes...)

When we came to get them on Sunday morning (Lucas' friend Adrian was also participating, so we returned on the same flight as him and Annica), we found them in the midst of a morning dance:

We had to leave a bit early unfortunately, to be able to catch our flight back. I was surprised Lucas had managed to pack his bag (it was a bit cramped already on the way there, as we only traveled with hand luggage) and was all ready to go when I got there - "I tried to remember how you do it Mum"!

I also got very proud hearing all the praise from the leaders as we said thank you and goodbye. That's our boy!
He himself was very content and happy, he had made new friends, explored London and really had a fantastic weekend. I'm so glad we decided to send him.
Next up now is the confirmation in April!

Horsham fun

It was great to spend a few days in Horsham, I hadn't been back for a while. We tried to think and the latest time we came up with was 2013 - crazy!
I got greeted at my friend Anna's house with dinner and apple crumble, lucky me!

Since the weather was so beautiful the day I arrived, we had high hopes for the following day and drove down to the coast for a bit of a beach walk, at Shoreham. Unfortunately the weather got increasingly worse as we got closer and closer to the coast, and once there we could hardly open our eyes in the massive winds. No beach walk for us.

So we had some fish and chips and drove back home, did some grocery shopping and had fika with Anna's cinnamon buns and some berries instead.

Friday evening we were invited to Cecilia, the only other Horsham-friend who is still there. We had dinner with her and her daughter, and Hanna had also made semla for dessert. They sure know how to spoil me!

Saturday I finished up the shopping, met Cecilia for coffee, and then instead of lunch Anna and I head to the new Wine Bar inside Waitrose for some tapas and a bit of Pinot Grigio. A bit funny to sit in the middle of a supermarket, but hey, anything works! Cheers!

On my last evening I got a bit chilly, it wasn't really spring warmth...

... and we Skyped the missing link, Linda, back home in Karlstad.

So great to have a few days of friends... Miss these girls! ❤️