Tomorrow is UAE National Day, and by good fortune, since Eid Al Adha is just around the corner, the powers that be have decided to give those of us who work in the government sector 10 days off!! Plus today we have celebrations - so basically no one is working today.
To mark the occasion, I decided to wear an abaya ( the long black robe that local women wear) to work. This is the first time I have worn one here - except for the time I wore one to the hospital because I was too ill to find something suitable to wear... The one I wore today is new, given to me by A*, he bought it himself when I was not with him, so it is only just long enough for me to wear with flat shoes. Though I don't consider myself anything other than of normal height for a Northern European Female, I guess I must be taller than the average Emirati / Muslim woman, because off-the-hanger abayas are often too short for me - one of the reasons why I didn't own any until now, except for the one given to me by Auntie S* that I wore to the hospital.
I feel very conspicuous in it, because of the design at the ends of the sleeves - which I won't even try to describe - and the fabric of the scarf is not doing a good job of staying on my head. I realize now why the Emirati women seem to make a big pile of of their hair towards the top of the back of their heads - think it must help keep such slippery scarves in place. The local ladies I work with all seemed very pleased to see me in my abaya and everyone has had a comment about my appearance today, from the driver to our Deputy Director - even HH - our chairman - whom I bumped into as he was making his escape after putting in an appearance at the festivities; he usually ignores me, but this time he greeted me and told me my abaya looks nice, and as he was walking off, either said I look pretty or I look pregnant - I couldn't quite hear, but I am really hoping it was the former, since I am not the latter. All in all it was a little disconcerting, because I am shy and try to avoid being noticed.
Anyway, paranoia and shyness aside, it was an enjoyable day. First the police marching band performed; then some little boys did a traditional dance - they looked so cute; and then a group of men performed a dance where they mostly just stand in a line waving some stick like cane thing and bob their heads and necks up and down and few of them get out in front and twirl their sticks or throw their guns into the air . The head / neck motion seem akin to the head movement that Eritrean men do in some of their traditional dances... The majority of people working here are fairly young local women, many of them single, so the last performance seemed to be the favorite one, and I couldn't help but notice glances exchanged between the dancers and some of my coworkers.
In a tent to the side, there were old ladies wearing the traditional canvas face masks, selling some local foods - my favorite were the fried balls of dough doused in honey - I have no idea what they are called, but they are yummy.
My only disappointment with today is that there were no little girls to perform the "hair dance" (as I like to call it), which I have not had the privilege of seeing live and have only seen on TV, where they toss their hair around in a kind of circular motion.