Airport Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is an impressive city and I have been so many times there already. But unfortunately  I never have got the chance to see the city itself, only the airport. Well, when going to or coming from Abu Dhabi, you can see the city from above, more or less, depending on your vision. So this does not count. But you can see there is water. Abu Dhabi touches the Persian Gulf, at least at the north-west end. All other three ends of Abu Dhabi are sand, desert. So no wonder it is usually warm there.

As a consequence, I do not know much from the city. But I do know the airport. Abu Dhabi airport is the home base of the airline Etihad, which connects the western with the eastern world. The airline operates more than 1,000 flights per week, with more than 120 aircrafts. But there is one thing about Etihad I really like, the boarding music. The song you can hear when you enter the plane. This song is kind of exotic, cheerful, epic and touching at the same time, just awesome. I love it. Here is the link.

20160225_225205 (Small)But I wanted to write about the airport. Actually there is nothing special about that airport. It is an airport like many other too. It is more about the people. The variety of different people is vast. So many different cultures at one and the same place, more I have seen in other airports. The picture of many other airports is shaped by business men and tourists, in a funny mix. But not here. Of course you can find many business men and tourists here too, but there are also many other people which do not fall into this category. Many people on the way to visit family members, widespread on this planet. Hence you see many people in traditional outfits of their respective culture. There is the Japanese student, studying in Switzerland. There is the Indian grandma, visiting the grandson in US, sitting next to that fancy Thai girl with pink hair and the huge smartphone. Two seats to the right the Arabic looking grandpa with woolen hat and warm winter jacket. Behind him a hippie-like European, looking like a flower child from the 70’s. A man passes, with t-shirt and towel. What?! wait! I need a second look. Yes, this man has a towel around his hip, instead of trousers. At least the flip-flops fit color-wise. Then the Arabs, in their long white robes. I do not know till today, how they manage to keep them white and dry in the restrooms, which are usually flooded with (hopefully) water.

Abu Dhabi airport is one of the big hubs connecting both sides of this world. Once my flight from India to Abu Dhabi had a bigger delay. I had only 20 minutes to reach my connection flight. Luckily I knew where to go, but without a sprint across the airport, from one end to the other, I wouldn’t have made it in time. Of course exactly in such situations the airport is crowded like an oriental street market. And everybody seems to have plenty of time to walk around slowly, very slowly. And of course in clusters, blocking all the bottlenecks. But I made it, the door closed right behind me. And actually I was faster than my suitcase, which did not make it. But hey, otherwise I never would have learned the lesson to pack the jacket into the hand luggage instead into the suitcase, if you travel from summer to winter. Brrrrrrrr 😉

20160225_225208 (Small)Another time while boarding, we have been loaded into a bus, to be  transferred to the aircraft. The bus doors close, but the bus does not start, not after 10, not after 20, not after 30 minutes. People start to complain and ask why the bus isn’t moving. “Somebody is still missing” was the answer from the ground crew. 40 minutes and the crowd becomes impatient. People requesting loudly to leave the missing person behind. The answer from the bus driver. “Unfortunately this is not possible.” Some impatient, grumpy guy asks “Why?!” Then the bus driver answered: “Well, the missing person is the pilot.” And suddenly everybo dy was okay to wait a few more minutes. Luckily they found the pilot little later and we could board the plane.

Abu Dhabi airport, a place to meet new friends. The Indian couple who told me the life story of their son, who became a doctor in US and they are on their way to see him. They offered me Indian food they brought. Or the Pakistani student, who just finished his PhD in psychology in California. He was on his way to India to open a practice. We talked a while and he told me from the difficulties of having a Pakistani dad and an Indian mom. Or the young German sales guy, who traveled for two months through the outback of India to sell little tractors to the farmers. There are so many stories and destinies. Full of life. You just have to listen.  Listen with ear and heart.