Saturday, September 17, 2011

Abu Dhabi Quilt Guild, United Arab Emirates

In November, 2010, I had the opportunity to visit the Abu Dhabi quilt guild in the United Arab Emirates and teach quilting classes for five days.  Having never been to the Middle East, I really didn't know what to expect.  With temperatures averaging 85 degrees, the weather was perfect. 

The ship I was on....and you can see the chef working!

As it turned out, the weekend I arrived was the final race weekend for the Formula One race cars.  I'm not a big race car fan, but 24 hours after landing in this marvelous country, I was sitting on a 60 year old yacht (one of three original ships of Sheik Zayad) that looked like it could have been in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, with a private chef on-board creating a marvelous buffet meal for me and the other 25 folks on board, watching the Formula One race cars speed by a short distance away.  Wow!  The cars were moving so fast, it was difficult to even see what color they were.  So, in pretty short order I found myself people-watching - great fun! After the race on Saturday night, Colleen, my wonderful hostess, and I went to a Linkin Park concert, and after the final race on Sunday, we saw Prince in concert - awesome!!!

Prince in concert!

After all this fun, there were classes to teach!  The class attendees were all ex-Pat's from Europe, Australia, India, and the United States.  I taught five different classes, with a number of folks taking more than one class. 

Some of the Mandala's created in class.

A student with her version of Currents.

Colleen works on her Mandala.

One of the Labyrinths that was created.

Currents interpreted as a fire - awesome!

After each class was over, Colleen would take me sightseeing.  We visited the Royal Palace Hotel one evening - the only hotel I've ever been to where we were screened in the parking lot, and went through a metal detector when we entered the hotel.  We came around one corner in this over-the-top fabulous hotel and saw a vending machine that bars!!!!

Just wishin' I could buy a gold bar....

Fabric shopping in Abu Dhabi is quite different from shopping in the U.S.  Most fabric is on round tubes about 4 feet in length.  Most of the fabric I saw was beautiful silks, rayons, polyester, and lace of all weights.  There was a surprisingly small amount of 100% cotton fabric, so when quilters found pure cotton, they would buy yards of it!  Most gals in my classes came with minimum 2 yards of each fabric and some brought much more.  The cotton fabric costs on average between $4-$5 a yard, and it was negotiable with the salesman who follows you around the store and is ready to cut fabric the instant you I said - different than shopping in the U.S.!
The last night in town, Colleen and I toured the Grand Mosque - a must-see if you ever have the opportunity.  You'll have to don a less-than-awesome black burka and veil, but it's worth it.  Beautiful mosaic work with semi-precious stones mostly of flowers and vines are everywhere - all kinds of quilting ideas.  The mosque features three of the largest chandeliers in the world and are made of Swarovski crystals.  It also has the largest Persian rug in the world...with no repeating patterns!  The thing that impressed me the most, though, was the huge wall covered in back-lit Arabic script.  Colleen told me it was 99 different ways to say "God" - it was breathtaking!

The Grand Mosque at sunset.

Guess who the short one is.....

Amazing mosaics everywhere you look!

The enormous chandeliers...

The backlit wall with 99 different ways to say God....

Since the country is so close to the equator, it is hot all the time.  One of the ways locals cool off is to rent floating tricycles with huge tires and pedal around in the water.  The gals wear something called a "burkini" (think burka and bikini combined together), which is shorter than the floor length burkas normally worn.

Locals keeping cool in the heat...

All told, it takes about 20 hours to travel from Abu Dhabi and Portland, between the actual flight times and layovers.  I didn't suffer any jet lag going to UAE, but woke up at 4 a.m. for about a week after returning home - I cleaned out my closets and designed a few new quilts!

A huge THANK YOU to Colleen and her husband for being such wonderful hosts and making my first visit to the Middle East so memorable - I sincerely hope our paths cross again in the future.


  1. I would love to go to that place and stay at the nicest accommodation in town.

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  2. your fabric very amazing.Congratulation is an essential part of fabrics.
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