When one thinks of the United Arab Emirates, we think of glamorous veiled women, luxury beyond belief, and palaces shimmering like mirages in the desert. We rarely think of the great scientific facilities and universities the country has to offer. Nor do we think about women scientists, or how an oil rich country is one of the leaders in alternate energy research.
I was invited into the UAE Embassy to celebrate the Zayed Foundation Energy Grant program and hear from some of the past winners. The Zayed Foundation gives a number of prizes to encourage the creation of alternative energy solutions. It also shattered any preconceived notion of what the UAE might be. I was amazed by how forward thinking their rulers are and the desire to contribute to science and the planet.
The embassy was breathtaking: on the outside, the towering white marble structure had a dome that looked like it came from some fairy tale. Inside the soaring lobby, that same dome had a stained glass insert that bathed the space in magical light. The combination of modern elegance and classical touches, such as the inlaid marble floor, worked beautifully. Each room was filled with magnificent art pieces.
After hearing the speakers, hors d’oeuvres were passed — salmon, crab cakes, and rolled pita sandwiches, followed by trays of delicious desserts. A breathtaking evening all around.
The United Arab Emirates consists of seven independent city-states including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. It’s a country about the size of the state of Maine, 80% desert, but also filled with fertile stretches on its coastal plains and rich palm-filled oases. I can’t wait to visit. In the meantime, please join me in this brief photo tour of the embassy. I wish you all could have been there with me!
(To see the photos full size, please click on any one of them.)
Categories: Embassy Visit / Insider DC
Hi, busy lady! You’re right, when I think of Dubai the first thing that comes to mind is mega-rich hotels and entertainment centres built by a country rich in oil. I never realized they’re also leaders in alternative energy. Great post, thanks for sharing!
Thanks for visiting with me, Jacq!
You’ve given an interesting look behind closed doors and, as you point out, there’s much more than oil driving their economy.But while in many ways they’ve adopted a modern lifestyle and everything that goes with it, in many ways they haven’t. I’ve talked to nurses who have been hired to work, sometimes by the royal family, and they all say the same thing. Women are not treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and are very much seen as second class. If you have the chance to visit you may want yo bear that in mind.
Glad you could stop by, Pat.