Time is flying by. We've been here for a week now. The first wave of people and all of the US/Canada horses arrived by March 3, the second group arrived a week or so later, and most of the remaining crew, press, support staff will arrive this week. Most of us have at least one person to help with the day-to-day stuff, with the rest coming this week. There are supposedly riders from 37 different countries participating, and the Organizing Committee is covering all expenses for each horse and rider and two support crew. And we are being very well taken care of! Lacking nothing and have most things in excess.

Our routine: Breakfast is served at the Village from 7-9 AM. Buffet - 'normal' food, fruit,coffe. The barns open at 8am - staffed with an official steward. We arrive at the barn, take the horse's temperatures (twice per day), clean the stalls, turn the horses into the outside paddocks. We have riding privileges on half day schedules. Due to Federation quarantine requirements the horses need to be separated until race day. So we have a specific trail that we can ride, and we alternate with the Australians - morning/afternoon. The mornings that we don't ride, we get organized, make sure feed/bedding is delivered, hang out. The barn is closed between 12 and 2 PM so we have to be back from morning rides in time to put the horses away, clean up, and leave by noon. Lunch at the Village between noon and 2PM and then back to the barn - either for an afternoon ride, or turn the horses back out and just hang out. We've been able to help each other out a lot, so there has been plenty of opportunity to leave early for shopping, tourist stuff, naps, whatever. Dinner is served at the village between 8 and 10 pm - though since the Dubai hotels became available a lot of us are doing dinner at the hotel. Food is most excellent!

It is a very pleasant relaxed atmosphere - we're all so happy to be here and are really being treated royally. The OC (Faisal Seddiq Al Mutawa) threw an impromptu desert party Sunday night - pitched a large tent out in the desert, shuttled everybody out there in 4WD rigs. Dinner, live music, belly dancer - and a marathon dance contest which was won by Karen! (she and her sister Cindy have been Arabic dancing for years). (The contest winnings prompted a great shopping outing the next night :)

The weather, temperatures have been pleasant overall. It got really really hot for a few days 37C - 90+F . More often it's been in the mid eighties with a breeze during the day – cools off to the 60's and 70's in the evening. The wind often picks up in the afternoon - sometimes to the extent that visibility becomes an issue - blowing off the top of the dunes, swirling around the tires of the autos on the road. Sunshine every day - sometimes fog in the morning. It's fairly humid right on the coast, but not so bad inland. Actually feels a lot like S. California.

The air is silky and warm and I absolutely love it here!! It is a very high energy country – new construction everywhere, many different cultures (only 20% of the population is composed of UAE Nationals – the rest come live here for work and commerce). It feels that UAE is focused on growth, tourism, commerce. Beautiful parks, and the architecture is amazing – tall tall buildings, very modern and each high rise seems to be competing with the others for beauty and originality. They are creating large cultural centers where they capture and replicate the country’s heritage. An interesting mix of old (women in traditional Arab dress, camels, desert tents) and new (high-rises, cell phones, SUV’s).

That's about it for now – all the horses are doing great, the riders and crew are happy and relaxed. Gearing up for next week…

Steph Teeter