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» Diamond In The Desert
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In the timeline of Abu Dhabi history, this book is a follow-up to M.A. Fahim's excellent eyewitness account, "From Rags to Riches."
Author Jo Tatchell revisits the country where she had arrived as a child in 1974 and spent her formative years. She is in an excellent place to compare the "then" and the "now" (meaning circa 2008), having absorbed a lot of fascinating information about the early days of the oil boom from her father, who managed Spinneys, the first supermarket catering to expats. She meets with some prominent locals and old-timers who have made the capital their permanent home; they are happy to reminisce. Her efforts at gaining access to old newspapers in the National Archives, however, are somewhat less successful (partly due to the digitization process which is underway).
Jo Tatchell is an excellent writer and I really enjoyed the book. Her observations are spot on and her background information appears well researched and quite accurate. Part memoir and part travelogue, with a bit of history thrown in, the book sometimes left me hungry for "more," which is a compliment as well as a complaint.
In the years since the book came out (2009) a lot has happened in the United Arab Emirates. There was the global economic crisis, which hit the country late, but hard, followed by an ongoing recovery. The emirate of Abu Dhabi has proven itself to be smart and resilient in the face of this adversity, opting to become the cultural capital of the area. Here's room for a sequel.
I wish more people would write books like this about other parts of the world. I liked this book because it went from story to story to explain the history of Abu Dhabi. Reading it was like listening to a friend talk about their travels. The books includes a mystery, tragedy and quirky cultural perspectives.
Jo Tatchell lived there for a few years and then returned to look it over and write about it. A good view of the surface and what lies beneath in at least a few cases -- so you get a sense of the contradictions as well as the norms of everyday life.
I did learn a bit about the United Arab Emirates when I read this book, but it seemed to move slowly and gave too much unimportant information.
If you plan to visit Dubai, read this before you go.
WOW what a story,so many things I didnt know and i bet you didnf either,read this,it will surprise you.WOW again.
Loved A Diamond in the Desert. I read when I was new to Abu Dhabi and still overwhelmed with the culture. This book helped explain as much as is possible, why culture is the way it is here while weaving a very interesting and personal story. A great read for anyone who is living in or considering moving to the UAE.
Interesting account from someone acquainted with Abu Dhabi all her life.
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