What an eventful Day 1!!. It started with me waking up at 4 a.m. and my body trying to drag me out of bed wondering what’s going on. LOL. This 9 hour time change is a killer, but I’m trying not to let my body adapt to it for the few days that I’m here.
Nice sunrise on the way to NYU Abu Dhabi campus for practice
After leaving my hotel, I joined the men’s and women’s NYU Abu Dhabi basketball squads for a morning practice. I must say that I am totally in my element with the ball in my hands, teaching and talking about why I love what I do!! What a way to start the morning. : ) While playing at the gym, I was introduced to two of Georgetown University’s finest former athletes - Omari Faulkner and Monica Hargrove.
I was glad to connect with with them early because we got to hang and attend the first few sessions of the “Embracing Sports in the UAE: Building Domestically, Expanding Globally” Conference. One of the coolest parts of attending the conference was having a chance to meet and hear a speech given by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development in the UAE. It was fascinating to hear him talk about sports in the UAE and all of the positive things that come out of people -young and old - who participate in sports.
Following a short afternoon break, we joined His Excellency in his meeting place. To be honest, the experience was surreal, but his down-to-earth personality made us feel at home. I could tell that he genuinely loves what he does and that he enjoyed hanging with us for a few minutes as well.
Monica, Omari and members of our US Embassy- Abu Dhabi crew with His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahayan.
When we left His Excellency, we decided to hit the streets and see the sights. A few of the people I had spoken to earlier said that I could not leave without seeing the sand (which I did to a great extent) and going to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center. The description that I was given of the Mosque Center could not begin to capture the beauty that exudes from it. Wow!! Wow! Wow!! The world’s largest rug is housed inside the Mosque, and I still can’t fathom how many people and how much time went into its creation.
Amazing experience at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
To recap, Day 1 was a success and now I am preparing for Day 2 when I’ll be on the first panel, “Time to Play: Women and Sports in the UAE.” Wish me luck!!