A week or so ago I posted about my love for Bani Yas (Baniyas). A desert area located in Abu Dhabi off the highway to Al Ain near Mohammed bin Zayed city. This area (though being renewed by the government) reminds me so much of Jahra, filled with the bedu life — what I consider perfection. It’s just the perfect little area sitting in the middle of the desert. Far enough away from the expat life in Abu Dhabi city that I almost forget it’s still part of the UAE.
Rarely will you see a woman driving (other than me) in Baniyas. Nor will you see women walking around dressed like they’re going to the nightclub. It’s an area to be respectful — and respected. I’ve asked many Emiratis about this area, making sure it was acceptable for me to go there alone. They’ve all assured me it’s perfectly safe, but ask what my interest is. So many locals in the GCC are racing to get away from the bedu life, they’re often so confused as to why I’m racing to get in. I told one Emirati friend I was going to Baniyas and he said, “Oh, you mean Yas Island?” I said, “Uh, no, I mean Baniyas.” He too was confused and asked if I knew it was a very bedu area. Of course I do… why does he think I go there?
While in Kuwait I spend much of my time in Jahra — about a 30 minute drive from where I reside. I’ve been going there regularly for so many years that I’m comfortable and people are used to seeing me. I’m no longer a novelty to them — but probably known as ‘that crazy American woman’. I’ve never encountered one issue in Jahra and feel incredibly safe. I get that same feeling while driving through Baniyas. Almost as if a woman in need would be the highest priority to any man in the area. I’m not followed, chased, or hunted — but instead given the right of way in traffic, allowed to get in front of others at the gas station, and told to go to the front of the line at the ATM machine. This is exactly how the life should be.
I’m writing this ‘follow up’ post because I noticed my original post about Baniyas had over 200 300 400 500 600 4,500 hits today alone. I started wondering if one Baniyas person came across my post and told everyone in every dewaniya in the area — or if there’s a conspiracy and I should avoid the area. Maybe they’re all sitting out there saying, “Who is this crazy woman? Why is she coming here? What does she want?” Or maybe they’re just as curious as I am — in a positive way.
These are only a few pictures I’ve taken while in Baniyas — anyone who is familiar with Jahra will see the similarity.
As always, if your vehicle, etc. are in my photos and you want them removed, please let me know and I’ll do so right away.