NaBloPoMo: Expat Edition – Masdar City

Today, I decided to spend the month with my blogging friends over at Yeah, Write and sign up for National Blogging Post Month. There is so much blogworthy stuff here in Abu Dhabi! Now that I’m approaching my 3 month anniversary, it’s time that I start documenting some of it.

In Abu Dhabi, the tap water is desalinated sea water and it’s chemically treated to make it safe to drink, and very little of the food available is anything local – so I’ve had digestive issues since I arrived. Even with water filters and bottled water, I’m still out of it. I have been hoping that cleaning up my diet and getting more organic things in my body would help me adjust, and I was excited to find that Organic Foods and Cafe has couple of locations here in the UAE.

Today, I took an excursion out to a place called Masdar City – which on the map, looks quite close to Abu Dhabi – to find the only organic store this side of Dubai. I didn’t feel like going to Dubai. It takes an hour and a half to get there from here, and the grocery itself is located in the Dubai Mall – the largest shopping center in the world. And they’re doing construction on the parking lot. Ish, traffic. Ish, three hours in the car. Ish.

I got excited when my GPS device had Masdar City already programmed into it. Then I started driving. And driving. And driving. Into the middle of what looked like a construction zone in a residential area that wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. And I learned something very important: Don’t trust the GPS. It took me to a lone office building in the middle of a developing commercial/residential area. There were three Japanese guys smoking outside, and fortunately one of them spoke English. When I asked if there was an organic grocery inside, he said – No. There is one by the airport, in Masdar City. About 30 minutes away. Do you have a navigation? Yes, I told him. It brought me here. Oh oh! he said.

Natch. I got back in the car and realized that not having a highway map and being averse to looking things up ahead of time was probably not a good idea. Did I mention I had skipped breakfast in the hopes of tasty things available at the cafe in the store? I tried not to get hangry, and programmed in the airport and looked closely at the little location map I’d printed off the store website. Onward!

I learned another thing: the UAE is under constant construction. The locations of roads are changing faster than my GPS can keep up with them. Of course when I bought it, the salesman insisted it had a 2012 map! With no updates even available yet!

BUT: I did find Masdar City. It’s a really cool place:

Aspiring to be one of the most sustainable cities in the world, approximately 6km2 Masdar City is an emerging global clean-technology cluster that places its resident companies in the heart of the global renewable energy and cleantech industry. Situated 17km from downtown Abu Dhabi, Masdar City is a high-density, pedestrian-friendly development where current and future renewable energy and clean technologies are showcased, marketed, researched, developed, tested and implemented.

I parked in the lot and got into a little electric tram that brought me into the city itself. Then, through a few hallways, up some stairs, and into the tiny little organic grocery. Then I found my coconut oil and Yogi tea and looked at the prices of fancy juicing machines and felt like I was in the middle of a Whole Foods back in Mpls again.

Funny the things you miss when you move away, huh? This store is primarily stocked with dry goods – there was no fresh meat available, but I could have purchased a frozen duck or chicken or any number of Amy’s frozen pizzas! The produce section was minimal. And there was no café area that could serve me a chicken salad sandwich to relieve my hangry. But I have organic risotto rice! And coconut oil! And tea! And New Zealand honey! Yay! These things make me happy.

I only got a little disoriented on the way back. I decided to add an IKEA trip to my return home, and my GPS decided that stroll down a military-looking frontage road surrounded by barbed wire running parallel to the highway was a great alternative route back to Abu Dhabi. Thankfully, I had a very starchy and non-organic chicken schwarma at IKEA before I got back in the car again, and collapsed into bed for an Oh My Gahd I really hate driving around here nap once I got home. That is today’s story.

7 thoughts on “NaBloPoMo: Expat Edition – Masdar City”

  1. I am very excited about your blogging all month long about your experiences in Abu Dhabi! I have personally refrained from traveling to so-called “exotic” places due to my sensitive digestive system (although I fared quite well in Turkey as I did in Tunisia, so I shouldn’t really let that “prejudice” keep me from traveling to those places.)

    As I told you before, I greatly admire your courage for having uprooted yourself to have this incredible experience of living and teaching abroad. How long do you plan of living there?

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! So glad you’re still following along. I’ve got a 3 year contract here, but at the moment I feel like I could live here forever.

  2. I’m looking forward to a month of your adventures! As an aside, what do you use coconut oil for? In place of regular cooking oil? I have heard that it’s supposed to be awesome for stir-frying.

    1. I use coconut oil for anything that would require butter or olive oil – good cooking temp, rich flavor, and all kinds of brain-building healthy fats.

  3. I am so excited to see you on the NaBloPoMo yeah write Frankengrid! This is gonna be a fun month. I don’t know if I’ll swing by each day to leave a comment, but I will make every effort to write you a handwritten letter in return for the one you sent my little family. Jordan absolutely loves hearing from you.

  4. This is why I don’t use GPS. I have no sense of direction and if the GPS sent me to the wrong place, I could get lost indefinitely. I’m looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

Kisses for comments!