Jay Cross
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Halfway around the world
Thursday, September 02, 2004
I arrived in Abu Dhabi this evening. I left Berkeley at 8:00 am Wednesday, fly from SFO to Philly at 10:00 am, flew from Philly to London-Gatwick, and from London to Dubai. A private car took me and another speaker at e-Merging e-Learning on a 90-minute freeway ride past an incredible number of mosques and skycrapers. Thursday just became Friday here; back in Berkeley it's still early Thursday afternoon.

The United Arab Emirates is the size of Austria. It's on the Persian Gulf, above the straight of Hormuz, between Oman on the south and Qatar on the north. I think we flew over both Iran and Iraq to get here; I may be wrong about that. The indigenous Emiratis number less than a million, about the population of San Francisco. Expatriates from the UK, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and a number of other countries make up the bulk of the population.

I vaguely remember when a group of small Arab states came together to form the U.A.E. about thirty years ago. Since then, this country (that sits atop 9.4% of the world's proven oil reserves) has built an awe-inspiring collection of highways, highrise buildings, beautiful houses, irrigation systems, and more. The enlightened Sheikh Zayed constructed a gigantic port and oil accounts for less than half of the GNP. You simply have to see this place to believe it.


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