Yesterday I woke up at 4AM local time (8PM EST) and couldn’t get back to sleep, after only 5 hours’ rest. I got showered, polished, and loaded up with gear to travel by bus to the far end of Saadiyat Island for the first day of the Eye on Earth summit. The bus ride was painful because I kept swiveling my neck to see Abu Dhabi out the windows as we drove; everything looks new, and construction cranes are everywhere. It’s fascinating to look at, and I was lucky to have a new acquaintance to point out the highlights; we ran parallel to the Sheikh Zayad Bridge, passed by miles of newly planted mangroves, and saw the Capital Gate building off in the distance.
I wasn’t clear on my hotel’s breakfast arrangements (it is, in fact, free), so I waited to get to the conference for food and coffee, which was fiscally sound but tactically dumb. I had to wait on line to get my ID, every moment of which my stomach complained about. Once I was downstairs, I got situated and gulped down some basic pastries minutes before the opening ceremony began.
The conference has been excellent so far; the speakers are all first-rate and the work is excellent. I spent most of it mapping out sightlines and settings to prep for our launch events, shooting a WRI speaker, and meeting people. At about 3PM I was dead on my feet, so a colleague and I ordered some coffee and recharged. Ahhh, strong Arab coffee.
Wednesday will be more intense, involving a lot of shooting and possibly some interviews, the location for which I haven’t nailed down yet.
This morning I woke up at 4AM again and laid in bed for an hour, planning to get up and outside to record the call to prayer at 5, but I missed it by 10 minutes. By the time I was downstairs it had ended.