Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Jusoor at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Last night I managed to convince Linnea to come along to do something I've been wanting to do since we've been here - participate in an Iftar at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This year they  launched a new initiative at the SZGM called 'Jusoor', which has taken place every Monday during the month of Ramadan.
'Jusoor' in Arabic means bridge, and this programme had been designed to build bridges between people of various cultures, ethnicities and beliefs, all in line with the Year of Tolerance.

There was a large group of us participating last night. The evening started with a short lecture about Ramadan and a guided tour, which took us to see the Ramadan cannon.
They only fire a cannon in two places in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, at Qasr Al Hosn and here at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; just like in the old times. Traditionally it gets fired for the first time to announce the beginning of Ramadan, then on a daily basis the firing is announcing the time of breaking the fast in the evening. The last cannon fire is for the Eid celebrations at the end of Ramadan.

It is so beautiful around the SZGM now, with all these intensely red flame trees in bloom.

To end the 'Jusoor'-programme, we got to volunteer in one of the Ramadan tents, and help out with distributing some of the meal boxes that are served here. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque feeds more than 30,000 people daily (!) during Ramadan, it is considered the biggest mass Iftar in the UAE.
We got equipped with plastic gloves and mouth covers, got a few instructions and then it was time to get to work:

Linnea got right into it, placing the food boxes, laban drinks and salads. Each of these tents can take about 1500 people, but thanks to good team work, we were quickly done with the set up.

Then we were invited to sit down together with the worshippers to break the fast together. 

We waited to hear the cannon fire, and then we could enjoy our meal consisting of dates and laban, rice, lamb and vegetables with a cold salad, an apple and drinks. 

As we are getting close to the end of this lunar month, the SZGM is getting bluer by the day. It's so, so beautiful.

I was really happy that Linnea decided to come along, as she seemed to enjoy the experience as much as I did. It was interesting for me learning even more about the Ramadan traditions, and finally getting to get involved in these activities at the Mosque. I got quite emotional as it was rather overwhelming to see so many people of different backgrounds coming together.
I am so grateful my children get to grow up in a society so rooted in coexistence.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Mother's Day 2019

It's tricky for our kids, keeping track for all the different Mother's Day that gets celebrated around them. Luckily for me, the Swedish Mother's Day is the last one up so I have plenty of time dropping enough hints to get celebrated!

Linnea had sorted a thoughtful gift while at the mall the other day, bath bombs that I love, and a hand sanitizer spelling out 'Many thanks'.
Both kids had written me beautiful cards, Lucas even did his in Swedish - and in the evening he also got put on cooking dinner. Lucas gave the Thermomix a swirl with dinner (he has only used it for baking previously) and served us steamed salmon with rice and cream dill sauce. Delicious!

And of course - a very Happy Mother's Day to my own lovely Mum too! ❤️

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Green, blue and yellow

I had the opportunity to take off a couple of days last week, up to Sweden to see my parents for a bit. It was only for the weekend, but I'm always amazed at how much you can squeeze in to just a few days and how much even a short break like this is refreshing, and needed! Especially during these long, hot, dusty and boring last few months before summer holidays.

I was lucky to get beautiful sunny days, and enjoyed all the spring flowers and greenery. Even the lilacs were in flower already.

We did a short excursion to Lidköping and had coffee down by the lake Vänern, at Skogshyddan.

And since I had lots of space in the suitcase, I brought back quite a lot of food. Mostly pork, pork and more pork...

... and Swedish candy, of course. There was a new 'Polly'-combo out, delicious!

I flew in via Stockholm, and out via Copenhagen. I really enjoyed my Sunday morning train ride back down to Denmark via the west coast. I just sat and looked out through the window and tried to fuel up and absorb as much as I could of all the green, blue and yellow (rapeseed fields)... so pretty!

Both flights were good flights, but the return flight was almost empty which made for a really relaxing and comfortable trip.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Last work?

So, this week might have been the last work for the season. Not only are we now in May, so the cruise ship season has ended, but it is also getting hotter and hotter by the day; and we have entered into Ramadan so things are very quiet here in the sandpit.

I still had two jobs this past week, which was really nice. Well the first wasn't actually "work-work" as such, as it was more of a networking thing, but related I guess.
Tuesday night I participated at a Sundowner at the Ambassador's residence, hosted by the Swedish Business Council and SAAB. I was invited to hold a short presentation about the new cultural attractions here in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn and Qasr Al Watan.

Of course I couldn't let an opportunity like this pass me by, so I also told them all about my new venture, being an External Guide at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; and about why they should go back again and again to this museum, even if they have been several times; because that's how amazing it is!

And the very next morning nerves were tense again, as I was doing my very first English-speaking tour in said museum! I had a small group of 12 coming from Dubai on a city tour, and as they were short on time they had opted for a guided visit through the museum to make sure they covered it all.
Although I must say, getting them through in an hour (they arrived very delayed and had a hefty program in the afternoon too), was quite a challenge for this newly baked museum-guide!

We made it in 1h10 minutes, but of course the visit got very compressed! Although I do think I managed to stick to the narrative and convey the message of the museum quite well. They seemed very happy when I left them in the gift shop anyway.

Monday, 6 May 2019

On a roll

On Saturday it was time for another guided visit in Swedish, at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It was another group of SWEA ladies, and some husbands. I feel lucky this guided tour proved so popular with the SWEA crowd, and that so many wanted to come along and hear more about the LAD, even though they all live here and had been there before.

Every time feels really special still of course, being so green. This time I didn't feel the flow just as well as last time. It was almost like the more I study and learn, the harder it gets to boil it down and deliver just the right amount of information. It went well, and I got nice feedback; but I think I need to practice talking less with my hands... oh dear, never a good look!

Next week I have my first tour in English in the museum, but I am actually a little bit less nervous about that. I've done all the study in English, took the course in English, and all my books and notes are in English, so should be easier. Plus, it's with a group of normal tourists - which means once the tour is done, they are gone, ha ha!

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Little Lunchtrip - Morocco

Yay, this week I could once again participate in one of my favourite SWEA-activities, the Little Lunch Trip. This time they had chosen a restaurant in the middle of the city, but luckily I found both that and a parking space really easily. We were going to Morocco!

We started the meal with some mint tea and got served a small plate of cookies with it. Felt a bit like a backwards dinner, so we saved some of the biscuits for dessert instead.

I had a merguez tangine, one of the other ladies tried the chicken tangine but the one most raved about was probably the lamb and dried fruits tangine. 

The food was absolutely delicious! Some were a bit worried it would be too spicy, but it was just the right amount of hot, with an abundance of flavours. Really yummy, I might try and go back another time while in town.