When our friends offered up their weekend home to us in Liwa, we were quick to accept the offer, knowing well that it was long overdue to take the family outside of the city. Once we left the city limits it became clear how important this trip was not only for us but for our kids. They were so excited about every aspect; the sand dunes, the palm trees, the camels, and the interaction with nature outside of potted plants and trees growing in between concrete.
The place that we stayed at was basically in the middle of nowhere with no close town and no attractions nearby. The appeal was in the slow pace and the opportunity to have direct encounters with the natural world. The kids got to learn about date farming and ate tomatoes and cucumbers in the field from the crops of a small kitchen garden. They learned about new fruits and birds and even had some interaction with a cat, as we don’t have pets at home.
We visited a nearby farm that had goats, sheep, and chickens and it seemed the kids could’ve spent the whole day there playing with and watching the animals. They of course each have a different reaction to nature, as they have different personalities, but you could see them both enjoying it in their own way. One was fearless with the animals and walked right up to a baby goat to pet it’s head, while the other hid behind my leg the whole time, but didn’t necessarily want to leave. That same one was bothered by the flies whereas the other seemed not to even notice them.
I think it’s so important for children to interact with nature as they grow and develop and learn about themselves and the world around them. Unfortunately it is too easy to neglect this when you live the busy city life, even if it is something you value. I was wrong to think that living in Abu Dhabi somehow limits those opportunities and is just a land of malls and air conditioning. All it took was the initiative and a bit of driving and our family got to have a very valuable and very different experience from the ones we have become accustomed to in our lives here.
I personally plan to make this more of a regular thing and have vowed with my wife that we will take advantage of the cooler weather while it’s here to let our family breath the fresh air and explore the natural world that the Emirates have to offer in abundance.