I spent another couple of Friday mornings waking up relatively early to go Roundabout Hunting, as I refer to it now. I even got Kassandra to join me once – well it did take me bribing her with the promise of eating breakfast out, which incidentally isn’t a frequent occurrence around here considering there are very few restaurants open for breakfast.
Sometimes, when I am driving around lost, I find a new roundabout that I have never seen before. Yes, I have lived here for over a year, and I am still finding new roundabouts. Honestly when this happens, it makes my day. It makes getting lost like a treasure hunt. The problem with accidental roundabout sightings is that it doesn’t always happen at appropriate times to take a picture. Then I have a hard time re-finding the roundabout on a different day which is why I have to go roundabout hunting on Fridays.
This is what happened when I saw the Wish Flower Roundabout. I first saw it before the summer holiday while I was in a taxi, but then despite searching for it again, I was unable to find it. I even asked people about it. Unfortunately nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. Wish Flower? huh? Okay, so my made up names are not always very helpful. Then the next time I saw it, was when I was in a taxi again. Now I couldn’t very well ask the taxi driver to pull over and let me take a picture during Thursday night going-out traffic. But this time, I mentally made a note of its location (backside of the Hilton) and voilá, the next morning I was able to record its existence. Really! Wish Flower Roundabout should be made its official name since I don’t think it currently has one.
On the same day that I was able to capture the Wish Flower Roundabout, I found another roundabout that was new to me. I am calling it the Clay Pot Roundabout. I am not exactly sure where it is located except that it was somewhere as I was getting lost looking for the two-story Starbucks – so probably not far from there.
Going towards the downtown area is the Globe Roundabout. It is another one of those roundabouts that is probably more commonly seen by other people. I just don’t have much of a reason to go to that part of town. Well, more lately since my dentist is over that way… It isn’t far from the Buraimi border crossing into Oman. Thanks to google for this picture.
This Colored Ball Roundabout isn’t far from Al Ain English Speaking School, and I found it just across the Hazza bridge (bridge over what, I am not sure since there isn’t any water). I would not usually go that direction except I was looking for a gas station. No official name listed, so I figured it was up to me to name it.
If you continue this back way from the Colored Ball Roundabout to Sanaiya (the industrial area), you run into this Construction Ball Roundabout (my name). It isn’t really a roundabout, but it is at an intersection. Probably another example, like the Clock Tower Roundabout, of roundabout art being pushed to the side for an intersection. These are night and day views of the Sanaiya Statue (what I have heard others call it) which has a bulldozer base and various tools attached to the ball. *I take no claim for either of these pictures.
This roundabout is called Al Baladiya Roundabout officially. I assumed the first time that I saw this roundabout that Baladiya must be the name in Arabic of a type of bird, like a stork. Nope. It actually means municipality (or something similar to that). The municipality building is one street over from this roundabout. I think I will stick to calling it the Bird Roundabout.
The Sheikh Mubarak Roundabout looks like a giant incense burner (which is what I think it is supposed to be) or a chalice. Hence my unofficial name of the Chalice Roundabout. It isn’t far from the Bird Roundabout and not on my side of town at all, so neither of these roundabout are frequented by me unless I am going to the Al Qattara art center, Heritage village, or some other out of way place.
My last roundabout of mention is the Coffee Pot Roundabout. This is the last roundabout leaving Al Ain as you head for Dubai. I have it under my more obscure roundabout grouping because this isn’t the way that I go to Dubai. In fact, I typically only pass it if I have taken a wrong turn headed out of town. Nonetheless, it is a fairly picturesque roundabout.
As I have been researching the various roundabouts, it has surprised me at how much some of them have changed during the past 5-7 years. As I mentioned before, some that used to be roundabouts are now just intersection landmarks. Others have morphed into something new like the mega-sized Hilton Roundabout which over this past summer added streetlights in the roundabout. I am still trying to decide how I like that – I can’t get all the way around the roundabout without needing to stop and it feels dangerous stopping three quarters the way around. Some roundabouts were modified (reasons unknown) like the roundabouts I call the Mayan Sacrafice Roundabout and the Flat Waterfall Roundabout which both used to have ‘sculptures’ or something of the like on top of them and no longer do. More sadly, some roundabout seem to have just disappeared. At one time there was a different Coffee Pot Roundabout (it was in more of a pouring position – I wonder if they called them Coffee Pot Roundabout #1 and #2?) and there was a roundabout that looked like a treasure chest. There were probably others that have already been forgotten about.
I realize that Al Ain can’t remain the same forever. As the population grows, there will become more of a need for traffic intersections and they may do away with the roundabouts all together. I hope not. There is something very special about being able to give directions using the Roundabout Art as landmarks. I would much rather tell someone to take the second exit at the Christmas Tree Roundabout, take the fourth exit at the Rock Waterfall Roundabout, or go past the Deer Roundabout then to simply tell someone to turn at the next 7-11. Roundabouts keep Al Ain special, and maybe in vain, I am still hoping that I will keep running into new ones them as I explore new roads.