Sleep was sketchy for me on the first night in Al Ain. Di slept well thanks to the melatonin she took, while I declined. The jetlag will probably stick around for a few days, at least for me. We heard the first call to prayer around 6 AM wafting from the mosques in the area. Mid morning Andrew took us for a walk around the neighbourhood and we found Al Ain to be a bit rough around the edges. The apartment is on the outskirts of town. At no point did we feel unsafe but the attention to details and cleanliness is not as you may first expect by the facade. Behind the manicured boulevards and hedges we experienced a different side with spacious sand areas, some which I presume are ready for new developments and some left in decay with garbage randomly strewn about. As a nice break from the sun we walked through a small oasis with traditional irrigation systems.
As we walked along the streets the locals honked their horns at us and waved in a friendly and enthusiastic manner. It is obvious that we are westeners and Andrew had prepared us for this. He has experienced a very open and welcoming attitude from the Emirati.
Al Ain is unique for the United Arab Emirates as it has more than average vegetation and plant growth. The water comes from the mountains in Oman and is sourced from underground. Another interesting fact is that we are right on the Oman border. The barbed wired fence is literally on the other side of the street from Andrew’s apartment complex.
We spent part of the afternoon at a mall getting a SIM card for my phone and some household items for Andrew's place. In the evening we met a group of Andrew's friends at a bonfire / guitar get-together. Everyone has welcomed us here with open arms The last chord on the guitar was struck after 2 am and Di and I took a cab home. All in all a very full and rewarding first day.