A quick summary of our time in Al Ain before a very peaceful sleep:

Friday is a day of rest in the Arab world and our day was very relaxing.  We spent the morning driving from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain and on the way we saw construction, the desert, and the labor camps outside of Abu Dhabi.  In Abu Dhabi we often encountered the buses that move the laborers from these camps to their work sites and the first thing I noticed when I saw them is how unsafe they are.  The frame of the vans appears very slight in comparison to the SUV’s that surround them and they seem to lack any non-basic saftey features.  Also at least some do not have air conditioning as you can see small fans in each windows.  Seeing the camps provided a sense of the other end of their journey.  After about an hour and a half of driving we arrived at the oasis town of Al Ain where we checked into our lavish hotel and were told to meet back in the late afternoon.

We decided to spend our free time swimming and eating the BBQ buffet by the pool.  It was nothing short of fantastic.  Most of us have sunburns and we definitely have better water polo skillz.

After a quick shower and a pause in the hotel lobby, we were shown the culutral sites of Al Ain.  Then we were graciously hosted for a traditional dinner by Dr. Hamdan Almazrouei.  We were welcomed with several rounds of Emirati coffee and teas as well as dates and other snacks.  Then the host’s children sang and performed a dance for us before we played soccer and toured the grounds.  Then it was time to eat.  This feast was remarkable, though right at this moment my remarks escape me. All I can say is that we had a buffet at the Shangrila the day before and this was almost certainly an improvement.  After dinner there was a “helicopter show” which was a remote controlled helicopter that did tricks and made a LOT of exhaust.  Then our host graciously gave us some gifts and we said our goodbyes.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the last few days.  The next report will likely be from Dubai on Sunday night, so hold on tight.