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Joel and Amy’s Blog

Desert Imprint – Intro

August 18th, 2009 Posted in Abu Dhabi, Essay

No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.

- Sir Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands


It was a close friend of ours that first suggested we “move to Dubai!” as my next career move. It sounded exotic and adventurous, but I wasn’t sure I was ostentacious enough to hack it in the capital of exorbitant wealth and construction.

I had a contact whose company had a presence in Abu Dhabi (120 km south of Dubai) and I gave him a ring. One thing lead to another and within 6 months there’d been an interview, a brief visit to the UAE for my wife and I, and a signed contract. On December 1, 2008 we arrived in the UAE as residents.

The prevailing UAE-expat wisdom says that you come for one of two reasons; no one will hire you in your home country or… the money. We came for a third reason; we felt called to move to the Middle East, live among Arabs, and stretch ourselves. We are the silly, idealistic ones.

Over the last seven months I’ve become hooked on the mystery, solitude, and vastness of the desert. I’ve discovered a people of that desert who can not deny their Bedu past even as they struggle with their oil-rich future.

(this is the first in a series of posts trying to articulate the impression the desert is leaving on me)

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