Christian’s 50th anniversary – our first family highlight in 2023

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At Munich Airport we meet our nephews Michael and Gunter as well as Christian’s childhood friend Hagen right at check-in. The airport is not as terribly crowded today as we are used before. And our A380 takes off very punctually too!We even land in Dubai earlier than planned and soon we’re sitting in the car we ordered for the drive to the Copthorne Lakeview Hotel, 5 minutes from Christian’s villa. Here we have exactly this view from our balcony.In the morning we can see the whole lake.We can also take pleasant walks here. But rest is the order of the day on the first day. Also at the pool.

The Thuringian boys take the obligatory trip to the historic soukh and downtown. Christian mustn’t know yet that the cousins and Hagen are here. Surprise!!!!The hotel has a side exit directly to a tranquil mall with a supermarket and a little hidden around the corner with a market for alcoholic beverages. We can now buy good wine here for the equivalent of €5 (white, rose) and €6 (red). There is also Pellegrino. Various restaurants are in sight on the lake promenade. The Thai near the hotel was not recommended at first. Also the salad from the hotel could be better. So we’re looking forward to the dinner at “Villa Lisa”, to which Lisa will pick us up.With a suitcase full of presents, of course, and he won’t get Christian’s until tomorrow on the birthday table. The girls got the instructions and hide everything. Now it’s time to hand over presents to the girls.And now dad Christian comes home from work with a glass of gin and tonic as a welcome drink.A nice first evening together. The next morning we receive the first birthday pictures from the Camelia Way!Our gifts are also on the table with a little mistake: The Christmas cake instead of the bottles with Gin and Whisky!But then it hails of new pictures, because our son is also being properly celebrated by his team “myZOI” in his bank office !A great team of young, highly creative women and men from 12 nations, starting with A for Armenia or Australia to P for Pakistan, are working to ensure that guest workers can send their money to their families back home more quickly, easily and cheaply. And Christian is the idea generator as Chief Product Officer. But the young people also have good ideas, which can be seen from the nice presents for Christian. So they did a good job of showcasing Christian’s hobbies!But we first visited our beloved Ibn Battuda Mall during the birthday and lo and behold, we were not only able to exchange euros for dirhams in the bank, but also euros for US$ at a fee of only about 3%. It would have cost four times as much at home, and in Uzbekistan next month I will need more $ than €.In the evening, however, Lisa picked us all 5 up for the first stage of the birthday party. Christian looked very happy after the visit surprise with the 3 Thuringians had succeeded.

Nataly prepared uzbekian Plov for the birthday dinner – accordingly to Christians’ desire.  It was very tasty again!

The family is well represented on the first level birthday party with the Cousin’s, and the boys feel right at home in the large villa of the Buchholz junior family.Michi had the idea of procuring an original newspaper – namely the central organ of the Socialist Unity Party of the GDR – from the day of his birthday in 1973, and Lari donated for the expansion of Christian’s aquarium landscape. That’s how they are also participating.A Fish named Larissa!Grandma Nataly then gave Christian medical advice on the knee problem and the girls watched in amazement.The day after we could relax at the pool and with fine cuisine at the Asian restaurant.Masha arrived about 6 p.m. with a big suitcase of gifts for everyone.For dinner we sat with the boys at the Asian restaurant. Masha should also be a surprise for Christian! Of course, the youngsters chatted on the balcony of the “Thuringian Apartments” until after midnight!

The next morning we visit together with Masha downtown Dubai with the central Mall, the Souk al Bahar and the fountain lake at the Burj Khalifa. The tour begins at the large aquarium. Not far from there, Masha and Nataly admire the world of women’s shoes, and then the great hall opens with the dinosaur – whose skeleton was discovered and excavated in the USA, Tennessee, but now stands here after being bought by the Emir. Really a nice attraction!The Arabic women dresses are also very attractive. A ladies paradise! And of course the inlaid throne is the appropriate seat for Natalie and Masha! Arrived at the fountain lake we treat ourselves to a coffee break. First the muezzin sings his call to prayer and then we look for a good vantage point to see the fountains show.

Punctually at 1 p.m. she starts the “water jumping” to the rhythm of Arabic music. On the way home we admire the courtyard of the palace hotel and the white mosque as we drive past. Now we are really in the right mood for the big anniversary party in the Green Community’s Camelia way. Lisa has already sent us photos of how the catering service has already occupied the garden.

All six guests plus the driver Lisa fit into the large family SUV.

After our greeting, suddenly the great surprise comes out of the corner!What joy for Christian, the whole family and all other guests. It’s really great how our Maschenka feels connected to the family and has found her way to Dubai – despite some obstacles and challenges. Some of the guests still remember Valja’s dancing skills, and now the expectations of the daughter are high! Now the party really starts – 60 guests from 16 nations are expected and happily welcomed. – A major multinational event! It turns out that Alishia and Sienna are excellent bartenders!  All guests are welcomed and taken care of, now it’s time for father’s eulogy! He tells of difficult beginnings in the student residence in Moscow, the time in Dresden initially in lousy living conditions, the birth of twin sisters and the construction of our own house. When Christian comes to school, the family has reached to live in good conditions.     Excursions together and nice holidays – also in Hungary, the Czech Republic or Moscow now enrich life. Christian comes to the ballet school and is proclaimed an adult in a ceremony. With the German reunification Christian comes to Munich, and after the ballet he studies photo design. After that, Europe is too small for him, he emigrates to Australia, meets his love Lisa and celebrates wedding with her. In 2006 Lisa and Christian got their twins Alishia and Sienna. Christian pursues a career in Sydney banks and is recruited to Singapore as an innovation coach in 2017, travels to Asia and Africa, develops new ideas that ultimately lead the family to Dubai. Here Christian works in a highly creative international team as the CPO -as development manager for new solutions to help the guest workers transfer money. All family members from Pyrbaum, Berlin, Chicago, Thuringia, Moscow and Saxony are proud of Christian’s achievements and bring heartfelt birthday greetings – in the presentation with photos and music such as “Berliner Luft”, “New York…”, “Ein Freund…”, “Moscow, Moscow…” and “The Saxon sings a song”.

Now friends and colleagues are also making very nice statements about ChristianChristian thanks all guests and especially Lisa, Alishia, Sienna and the well-travelled cousins.But Mum Natalie has the last word. Among other things, she reports that thanks to Christian’s changing places of residence, the parents have seen a lot of the world:Now it becomes more and more fun in the camellia garden and Masha opens the dance. The meadow quickly becomes a dance floor!

But even without dancing there is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. They have a lot to talk about.And Christian is the universally adored host!And he gets a fiery birthday cake too – Napoleon Russian style!Why is the cake called Napoleon? Dad Michael attempts an explanation: The smooth layers of the cake represent the countries conquered by Napoleon. Only the top layer is crumbly – it represents Russia because it was here that Napoleon lost his “Grande Armee” and suffered a terrible defeat for the first time. The happy party probably lasted until 2:30. But this photo probably best expresses the mood at the anniversary party:Ten happy faces belong to young people of ten nationalities and different religions. If only it were like in the garden of the Buchholz Junior family in the Green Community all over the world!

We could experience an unforgettable party and thank Lisa and the girls for the fantastic management!

On Sunday afternoon the Thuringians have to leave and the cousins can get an extensive brunch at Christian’ home.

But we still want to discover the unknown, and that’s where the outlet village is on the agenda. It is built in a Renaissance style and is a little outside.

Well, walking around in this mixed architecture is okay, but just like in any of the big malls, there are always the same brand shops – only one of them Natalie finds something new – a frog-green opera bag. Yes, there is even a shop just for opera shoes!But we don’t need much time here and although the prices are said to be 90% lower, they are twice as expensive as elsewhere. Christian recommends that we should visit the nearby Riverland, and we’ll do that right away.Riverland Dubai is the gateway to Dubai Parks & Resorts. A themed, fun, dining and retail destination which we can access without purchasing a ticket! We take a drive by golf car along the river on a journey through time, where four different zones give a fascinating glimpse into some of the attractions of the past and nowadays: The French Village, Boardwalk, India Gate, Legoland and The Peninsula.

The golf car driver probably knows our taste and drives us straight through the medieval French village. The golf car driver probably knows our taste and drives us straight through the medieval French village.

Hunger is starting to set in, and since the European restaurants are closed and we didn’t want a McDonald’s, we grabbed a bite at the Arabic restaurant.Well that was okay, but not according to our taste. Another experience richer!

One last look at Bollywood. This is a huge park where shows take place every day. Admission is correspondingly high at €100. But a look inside at the temple, which is supposed to resemble the Taj Mahal, is enough for us.And then we drive home, where we can say goodbye to the three Thuringians. In the evening there is the last dinner with Masha, and after we sit for a long time on the balcony with a bottle or two of wine to exchange our latest experiences.Bon voyage Masha, and it was wonderful that you were there for your cousin’s anniversary.

However, we have a trip to the neighboring emirate of Sharjah in our plan and we would like to do that before the start of Ramadan, because Sharjah is a fairly conservative emirate: no alcohol, strict observance of Ramadan…Sharjah is widely regarded as the country’s cultural capital. The historic district is located on an estuary around which the city originally expanded. There are restored houses and a museum dedicated to Emirati customs. Other attractions include Sharjah Fort, a 19th-century royal palace and now a local history museum.Christian organizes a special service for us: We get a Pakistani driver for Christian’s SUV for 8 hours ordered from an agency. It costs 300 dirhams, so with tip and food around 85 €.Hassan picks us up from the hotel at 8:00 a.m. and off we go: Across Dubai we don’t even notice how we move to the other emirate. But then we see a huge palace that we cannot identify on the internet. Hassan is a nice and good driver, but he doesn’t know Sharjah.But two famous places are self-explanatory. The Koran monument in front of the Palace of Culture and the square with the clock tower at the university.But our first destination is the Museum of Islamic Civilization.This museum shows in a very impressive way the achievements of Arab scientists over the centuries, starting with the origins of Islam and its development. The museum itself is a visual delight and anyone who enjoys Arabic forms and design elements will get their money’s worth here. A very worthwhile visit. After our entry for 0 dirhams (age >65) we stand in the large halls of the first floor.We see an elaborate design of the Dome of the Rock and an overview of the Temple Mount of Jerusalem. I wasn’t allowed to go there in Jerusalem in 1997, and now I can get an idea of this plateau above the Wailing Wall.There are galleries throughout the length of the building of about 200m to the left and right of the great hall on both the ground and first floors. In the gallery for science and technology we learn a lot about the discoveries of Islamic scholars in a time when the West was still living in dark times. The achievements in medicine, astronomy, seafaring, handicrafts and weapon technology are shown in a timeline from around 600 onwards. The Uzbek Emir Ulug Beg also has his place here as a famous astrologer.Who in the West still knows that astronomy was booming in the Orient in the early Middle Ages, that the compass was already being used by Islamic seafarers around 1000 and that clockworks were created around 1500 in El Andalus, let alone the early Islamic medical technology and its use of wind and water power, the craftsmanship of ceramics with fine glazes, the manufacture of curved glass vessels?Of course, there is also a gallery dedicated to religion with the 5 commandments of Islam, magnificent editions of the Koran – hand-painted, the overhang from the Kaaba in Mecca.They also recognized long before the Vatican that the earth is a sphere.

The five pillars of Islam include Al Shahadah (profession of faith), Al Salat (ritual prayer), Al Zakat (giving alms), Al Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Al Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca al-Mukarramah).

Finally, we drive up to the café under the dome and marvel at the depiction of the starry sky.In doing so, we learn that the signs of the zodiac were also derived by the Islamic astronomers!

After this interesting visit we would like to go to the historical market, the Souk Al Arsah.We drive along the Corniche waterfront with some beautiful motifs.However, this market is closed for reconstruction and the old town area around also.So we continue to the Central Market.And there we are even surprised, because this is not a soukh but rather a modern mall with Arabic clothing, souvenirs, modern cafes and a lot of gold jewelry – from a few to 40,000 US$ for the large necklace in the window.Not even the Fort al Hosn is historical, because the old fort – formerly the seat of the Emir – was demolished long ago but rebuilt for a museum. The museum staff was happy that a visitor came with me. But it was very interesting how the ruling family of the Bedouin tribe held up against the Saudis.  I wish the museum more visitors!At the next station, al Noor Mosque, it was midday prayer. I was allowed to take the front entrance, Natalie was allowed in the side. The mosque is not very big but wonderful inside.We stopped for a lunch break on the shore.So we finished Sharjah earlier than expected, and Hassan was keen to complete his 8 hours. So he suggested a tour of Palm Island. Well, we’re happy to join in and admire the palm fronds and the famous Hotel Atlantis on the palm top.So we were just once in Sharjah, and we made it the day before Ramadan. The next day neither snacks nor apple juice would be possible in Sharjah!

But we experience something very special in the evening – the young people are training in the sports hall nearby – and Sienna is there!It’s great what our Sienna shows in terms of acrobatics on the two shawls. Once again we are proud of what talented grandchildren we have – in many areas!

But we were leaving the hotel by the lake next day on Tuesday. Christian picks us up and we take a break at the pool.

There aren’t many places in Dubai that we haven’t been to, but one of them is the historic old town, Al-Bastakiyya, a historic listed district that sits along the Dubai Creek and is made up of narrow streets and wind towers. The area is also home to the al-Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing building in Dubai. The construction of the Bastakiya dates back to the 1890s. In its early years, the neighborhood could house 60 houses separated by narrow, windy streets. The Bastakiya has meanwhile developed into an painters’ and culture quarter with galleries, exhibitions and museums.Right at the entrance we find a pretty café and fill up our water reserves. Then we enjoy the walk through the romantic alleys and galleries. Soon we are in front of the famous Arabic tea house. We want to take a look! Here the guests also sit outside, eat and drink despite Ramadan. Life is freer in Dubai. Vanilla ice cream and Arabic yoghurt is a new experience for us – but delicious. Passing the Al-Fahidi Fort, we are disappointed that the museum is still closed. So reconstructions in the Emirates are more tedious than super new buildings? But at the creek we find the same itensive boat operations as half a year ago. Nothing has changed in the old soukh either. Everyone wants to know where we are from and only do our best. But we are satisfied with two thick camel-themed pillows and two additional Aladdin lamps.  I need one lamp anyway for our  bedroom in Christian’s home.

The next day is a rest day and there is also time to hike through the parks of the Green Community. What a splendor of flowers! What a green landscape where there only desert was before!

Intoxicated by the beauty of the residential area, we decide to visit the Miracle Garden again on Friday! There you would like to snap 10 000 pictures, but only a selection can be included in this report.

In the evening the birds of the Green Community visit us in the garden,Christian prepared the steak for dinner  and Natalie and Lisa practice conversation.And then there’s the best tomahawk steak ever tasted on the table, specially prepared by Christian. Great.

So we are well prepared for our family trip to Abu Dhabi at the weekend.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is located on an offshore island in the Persian Gulf. The focus on oil exports and trade is reflected in the modern high-rise buildings and sprawling shopping centers such as Abu Dhabi and Marina Mall. Beneath white marble domes, the grand Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque accommodates 41,000 worshipers with a huge Persian carpet and crystal chandeliers. Other sights include the Presidential Palace and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. So we have chosen these three special sights for the Saturday tour. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and one of the largest in the world. Hence the name “Great Mosque” among the locals. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, with a huge Persian carpet and crystal chandeliers, seats 41,000 Prayers.  It’s our first stop, arriving at 9am, one hour before opening. But that doesn’t matter, because there’s a large mall underground, where we’ll spend the time until it opens. Then our women come back from the toilet modestly veiled – the Nepalese toilet attendant has prepared them accordingly – here before entering the underground and afterwards: At 10 a.m. sharp, hundreds of people are suddenly standing at the entrance, which leads through the underground to a lift in front of the mosque – at least 500 m.With a severely handicapped pass, we can take the e-van to the lift with the long escalator next to it without having to queue. Soon we are standing in amazement in front of the imposing complex.

With its external dimensions of 224 by 174 meters, the mosque offers space for 40,000 believers. Its four minarets are 107 meters high each, and the main dome above the prayer hall is 75 meters high. With a diameter of 32.2 meters, it is considered the second largest mosque dome in the world. Over 40 smaller domes were added to the edge of the compact central building. High-quality material was used for the construction, including 15 different types of marble and a striking amount of gold leaf. The interior of the mosque is covered with a 5627 square meter hand-knotted carpet from Iran. It is considered the largest of its kind in the world and weighs 47 tons. Of course, visitors are not allowed to enter it. Extra plates have been laid out for visitors so that you can keep your shoes on. The mosque is also decorated with seven chandeliers imported from Germany. They are made of gold-plated brass and stainless steel and are set with thousands of different colored crystals in the shape of a flower. LEDs are used as the light source. The largest of the chandeliers was built by a company from Munich. With a diameter of ten meters and a height of 15 meters, it is the largest chandelier in the world. But let the pictures do the talking!  A fantastic experience, this beautiful mosque. But we continue to the Emir’s Palace. The Presidential Palace (or Qasr Al Watan), for presentation purposes only, was only opened to the public in 2019 by the current ruler, Khalifa bin Zayid Al Nahyan.

With a façade made of white granite and limestone, the mainly white palace is intricately designed and ornately decorated. It includes a dome with a diameter of 37 m a chandelier with 350,000 pieces of crystal, and a number of compartments. The dome is located on top of the central chamber known as “The Great Hall”, which is surrounded by two wings to the east and west. The living quarters of the Emir family are in a palace that is a bit off the beaten track and is additionally fenced in.The visitor entrance is several hundred meters from the palace. Buses are used to bring visitors through the extensive park to the wide square in front of the palace.Soon we are in front of the entrance gate and enter the great hall.  An indescribable splendor awaits us!The eastern wing has the “House of Knowledge”, where a number of artefacts and other objects of importance are stored. There is also a library with more than 50,000 books which document the cultural, social and political history of the country. Here, too, the groundbreaking achievements that were made in medicine and navigation in the Middle Ages are underlined – by the way, in astrology and the compass, also with regard to the knowledge of the Greeks and Chine.But in the middle there is a golden cage – a popular photo motif, also for us!The western wing has halls which are used for official purposes. Here, there is a room known as the “Spirit of Collaboration”, where meetings of the UAE Cabinet and Federal Supreme Council would be hosted, besides summits of international bodies. Elsewhere, banquets for official events, besides diplomatic gifts from other countries, are kept.Impressed by the architecture, generosity and splendor, we can leave the palace.The third highlight of the day awaits us, the Louvre of Abu Dhabi – a modern art museum. The collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is designed for the period from antiquity to the 21st century. In the case of the Parisian model, the time period extends to around 1850, for the time after that there are various other state museums there. The name derives from the Louvre in Paris, with which there is a close cooperation. French architect Jean Nouvel designed a new building for the museum on Saadiyat Island. President Macron also attended the inauguration on November 8, 2017.The Louvre Abu Dhabi property is located directly on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Jean Nouvel was commissioned by the client to design a museum that would combine modern architecture with the tradition of Arabic buildings. He then developed a building complex consisting of 55 square buildings arranged side by side and one above the other. These buildings with their flat roofs and the paths in between are intended to be reminiscent of an Arab old town, and they are surrounded by several water basins. As a striking eye-catcher, Nouvel stretched a flat dome with a diameter of 180 meters over this arrangement.When approaching the Museum Island, we notice three huge construction sites opposite the Louvre. An electric vehicle is waiting for us right away and the Nepalese driver explains to us that by 2025 there will be an opera house, a Guggenheim museum and a museum dedicated to the Spanish painter Néstor – as a partner museum to the one in Las Palmas.In the first hall of the museum, we  can find sculptures from different eras and regions of origin. The first sculpture with the two heads comes from Nepal from about 5 600 BC. The Persian Empire around 500 BC is represented as well as China, Papua New Guinea, Greece, Rome, Japan and even France’s Rodin. Craftsmanship is also exhibited here across eras and regions. The time span here ranges from 1 400 BC to the Norwegian throne of 1900.

European painting is also well-represented, from Leonardo da Vinci to Bellini, Manet, Gaugin and Picasso.We learn that this is about depicting world art with individual works of art, not theme-related collections for individual painters, sculptors or epochs. However, the abstract works in the last room are difficult for us to understand.But then we are already at the exit, which is surrounded by clear pools of water.

This visit was also very impressive and you could actually spend days in the Louvre.

Back home we are all pretty tired from this challenging family trip to three special sights: But we are looking forward to Sunday when our girls complete the second part of our Christmas present: Ski Dubai!Unfortunately we can’t really watch the ski bunnies through the window panes. But the main thing is that it was fun and the girls reached level 1. Could even ski down the steep slope!

Finally, my energy considerations on the side: Six 400 kV lines run from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. They bring the power from the large photovoltaic plants to the metropolitan areas. Each of these lines can transmit the power of a nuclear power plant. The outdoor parking spaces mostly have a sun protection consisting of PV panels, and I could see several charging stations for e-cars in each parking garage.

It makes us optimistic that Germany is showing us how it should work.In principle, this applies to all areas – from infrastructure to services.

And so our eventful holiday in the Emirates comes to an end. It was a great time with wonderful experiences. We got to know Christian’s circle of friends and experienced a lavish, multinational party.

We say thank you to the junior Buchholz family for this wonderful time.

Keep up the successful work and hapiness in the family. We’ll see you again soon!







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