Before I moved to the United Arab Emirates, I sold the one car I’d ever owned—a four-door Honda, emerald green, white scratches webbed along the doors from the previous owners. I would be gone for just ten months, but the car had an old engine and a dashboard of permanently lit warnings lights, and, every month or so it seemed, a different part broke and needed repairs.
In a country so hot, and with such sugar hunger, you’d think the frozen dairy dessert field in Abu Dhabi would be crowded. But the United Arab Emirates is a relatively new country, with few home-grown stores, so imported chocolates and native dates dominate the sweet shops. When it comes to ice cream, a dozen kinds of Baskin Robbins is all there is. In grocery stores, there’s Häagen–Dazs too, but it’s the jagged, sickly pink BR that dominates each and every city superblock, including one on the ground floor of our Abu Dhabi apartment building—right next to the ATM.