Two rows of open-front stores line a short stretch of the E88 where it cuts in between two cinnamon-red mountain ridges, somewhere along what used to be the main route to the East coast. To the uninitiated, the Friday Market, or Souq Al Juma’a, may look like nothing more than a collection of random roadside junk shops backed by low-slung tenements. The question of driving on certainly hangs in the air on first approach. But then, invariably, cars slow down as the people inside take in the scene and, metre-by-metre, become intrigued.Read More
Having followed the twists and turns of the Louvre story for eight years, I found myself walking into yesterday's press conference, at which the museum would reveal its opening date, in a state of giddy anticipation. As they addressed an auditorium full of journalists, publicists, curators, officials and dignitaries, the speakers seemed to share the sentiment. When the first address, by HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, was over the opening date suddenly appeared on a large screen. An awkward, short ripple of applause went through the crowd. 11 November 2017. On deadline and just over two months away. And so, voilà, just like that, le chat was out of the bag.Read More
I just noticed with horror that my last blog entry dates back almost a month. All the way back to the day after Abu Dhabi Book Fair, to be precise, which was also the day before a European holiday and about four weeks after the day I discovered the What are you reading? podcast. So there you have it, an explanation of sorts. As it turns out, the combination of fair (book launches!), trip (proper bookshops!) and podcast (book recommendations from interesting-sounding people!) has had a pretty disruptive effect on my blogging morale. To make it up, here is a snapshot of the month’s loot, a stack of brand new books now languishing seductively on my desk.Read More
Here is one of the more bizarre clippings I've come across recently with the help of my colleagues. More than forty years ago, Al Shorouq magazine used the King of Rock and Roll for a gibe against American support for Israel and the values 'hidden' in foreign pop culture. It's tongue-in-cheek and can't be taken too seriously, but there is a certain tragic to the thought that this kind of media coverage seems to be making a comeback.
Most days I drive past this billboard on Saadiyat Island showing Jean Nouvel’s design for the Louvre Abu Dhabi under the slogan “Closer than you think” and “Opening 2015”, and I can’t help feeling a pang of irritation. After all, my being in this city has something to do with this grand cultural vision and somehow I take the delay of its realisation more personal than I probably should.Read More