If I were to be reborn I would like to spend my childhood, or at least some of it, in Abu Dhabi. While I am mad about a kind of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ upbringing in England I wonder how possible that is any more and also if life as a child here also has its unforgettable elements.
Last night we were invited by the Abu Dhabi Tourism authority to the final event for Gourmet Abu Dhabi. This is a food festival running over two weeks, with lots of top chefs and expensive dinners and wine-tastings. Tickets are normally around £100 each so I was relieved that we were invited, especially as we had all five children with us, as well as Miranda, Leo’s friend.
The children ran from stall to stall picking up delicacies like giant prawns in lemongrass sauce and pineapple flakes with ginger ice-cream. They were fussed over by everyone. The setting was the gardens of a magnificent five-star hotel on the beach with a huge pool in the middle at the other side of which a band was playing.
We immediately recognised the band as the one Bea, Leo and I had seen (and met backstage) in Dubai so the children went to talk to the singer during the interval. Minutes later they had secured their spot on stage. The pictures are not great, but you get the idea. I am proud to say they all danced and grooved and there was not a moment’s stage fright.
When I was their age my pop star practices were limited to a shampoo bottle in front of our bathroom mirror. My point is that this is not only a land of opportunity for adults, most of whom come here to earn lots of money and secure their financial future, unless you’re a journalist of course, but you do then get in free everywhere. But it is also in many ways a land of opportunity for children because you never know what might happen.
I know in England, for example, that Health & Safety would soon have put a stop the appearance of our budding pop stars, even if we had managed to get close to the singer in the first place.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010