Monday, August 24, 2009


Marhaba from Abu Dhabi! Shannon and I feel that our first post should provide some background as to how we got over here in the first place. Looking back, there seem to be a nearly infinite number of things which led us here, but because this is a blog and not the next great American novel, I'll keep it brief.

I began thinking about pursuing a PhD in comparative Christian and Islamic ethics in the summer of last year, and so then began in earnest to focus on Islamic/Middle Eastern studies and lo and behold, found it a fascinating and little-explored research area! Then, around May of this year, Shannon happened upon a job posting for a position working in higher education research and policy at a university in Abu Dhabi. She had been considering changing jobs and found this one intriguing, but quickly dismissed it, thinking it too outrageous to consider.

A few days later we were having a conversation at dinner about our potential move, and she brought up the job posting as a joke, but by the end of our evening she had decided to apply just for kicks to see what would happen. Over the next few weeks while she awaited their reply, she experienced quite a change of heart; her initial aversion to the idea was transformed into an outright desire to move there. She ended up being hired for the position and had a contract by mid-June. Long story-short, less than three months from our initial conversation about how funny it would if we moved to the Middle East, Shannon and I packed up and moved there, which is now here. Hard to believe we've already been here one week. Here are a few pics of our first days:

Shannon and me on our plane moments before wheels up!

Here we are working off jet lag in our meager 5-star accommodations (Shannon's employer was very good to us) at the Intercontinental Hotel...Sam says, "It's tired in here."

And this was our first glimpse of Abu Dhabi by day...gorgeous!

Source: Jhani (

Here is the Marina Mall, the second largest mall in Abu Dhabi, and just one of the five we hit in two days, all within a two mile radius...Emiratis sure can shop!

This is a shot from inside the Marina Mall; notice the sign providing direction both to the "Prayer Room" and "Cinestar," the mall's movie theater...this image captures much of Abu Dhabi's uniqueness.


  1. This is so exciting - at last, a direct connection since you two left the States. I can hardly wait to hear about your first week, all about your apartment and shopping to furnish it, your impressions and experiences so far, and Shannon's new workplace experience. I know you already went bowling, of all things! Who would guess? I'd love to hear about that and the new friends you made. In fact, I want to know everything and see every picture you post.

    Everyone who knows me knows about you going over there, so I hope it's okay to give them your blog to follow if they wish.

    Thanks for getting this started, Sam. I enjoyed reading more in detail how this got started, as I only knew part of the details from Shannon's perspective, not knowing you were on this track in regard to your studies. Now I can see why being over there is such a perfect experience for you before you begin your doctorate studies.

    Love you both so much and already miss you immensely. Rebecca/Mom

  2. Love the pics, especially the first one! I'm eager for more. I know you are probably eating dinner while my morning is getting started here.

    Keep the blog filled with pictures and details.

    Love and hugs

  3. Hi Shannon and Sam,

    We had lunch with your folks today, and I just got the report of your conversation with Lisa. Who could have dreamed you'd be in this situation! Looks fabulous, but I'm sure you are working hard to adjust to the sights, sounds, and stifling heat. All this will be important training for your future, wherever the pathway leads. I hope you can journal so you have good memory of your unique experiences when you come home. We pray for your patience, endurance, wisdom, and insight as you put to the test all you have learned in past years. None of it will be wasted, and in remembering, you will find strength and hope. Remember we love you!

    Sandy and George

  4. Ok, it's me again, Mom/Rebecca, about to head for bed while you are just rising tomorrow. Again, great pics and insight into your first days in the apartment. Quite a view. Not sure I could handle the 4:30 am "rise and shine" through a loudspeaker!! I thought I read in a message from Shannon previously after selecting your apartment that there is a panoramic view of the sea. Is it beyond the cityscape? It's not showing up in your pics nor have you mentuoned it in your commentary.

    Talked at length with Lisa today, and she told me about your conversation via phone. Interesting adaptations to be made. I know you're up to the challenge. What a personal growth opportunity, individually and as a couple.

    Hope the Juice Plus+ will survive the unanticipated extra time in storage! Is your shipping unit in an a/c storage unit, hopefully?

    You're both up to the challenge of adaptation. You can do this! You can leap this hurdle!! Love you both, Mom/Rebecca