Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The not-so-grand Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi
I had to go to the Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi recently to have the Arabic translation of my Canadian driver's license notarised. (We are the only nationality, by the way, required to have this done to get UAE driving permits, all for a cool 200 dirhams). I was sort of excited at this prospect, not having needed the services of my local Canadian embassy before. It all felt very expat-ish, telling people for no reason, "I have to go to the embassy tomorrow" or "I just went to the embassy". So I was fairly unimpressed to learn that it is on the ninth and 10th floor of the office tower beside Abu Dhabi Mall.
I am not sure what I was expecting, but I think in the back of my mind I'd had this image of things really hitting the fan in Abu Dhabi, an invasion, or a coup, perhaps, some sort of terrorism that only targets Canadians, maybe. And if that happened, I sort of felt like I could take refuge at the embassy (you know, dramatically climbing over a big, comforting and protective fence to the safe haven inside a massive compound... Possibly making it just in time before some sort of dramatic explosion, falling into the arms of a burly but not unattractive oil and gas worker from Calgary... you know, standard stuff.)
Instead, should I need to seek refuge at the Canadian embassy, which, let's be honest, I probably won't, I would have to press a button and wait for an elevator. It just really doesn't fit into my disaster scenario at all.
NOTE: While at the embassy, where I was forced to stare at large photos of people like Lawrence Cannon (did they have a portrait of Maxime Bernier, pre-scandal? I suppose I shall never know), I witnessed several large vases of fresh flowers being delivered, replacing vases of flowers that were only slightly wilted. I don't want to get all "taxpayer watchdog-y" (and as a non-resident it really would not be appropriate) and fresh flowers are lovely, but are they really necessary? Aren't there quite a lot of embassies 'round the world? Do they all get fresh flowers? What, exactly, does all this cost?
NOTE 2: While at the embassy I had to put my cell phone in a tiny locker.