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This is the eighth in a series of repeated posts (e.g. published elsewhere before) from outside of China, detailing the start of my expatriate life. There will always be a post a day about China so if you’re not interested in other material – you can stop reading now. :-)

Now we are off once more running around in the heat, conducting a series of stupid physical exercise that involve throwing your team mates headfirst into the sand, and other such joyous moments. The women refuse to participate in this activity as it will involve shifting their abayas (the long flowing black cloak that most Emirati women wear to conceal their figures) into undignified and possibly revealing shapes. I volunteer to keep them company.

Forget those ridiculous Western prejudices (if you had them) - Emirati women work and contribute fully to society - this is Nayla Al-Khaja and she's a film maker.

They are lovely, not only are they stunningly beautiful as most Emirati women appear to be, but they have a great sense of humour. We sit around joking and laughing, until I realise that I may be committing professional suicide from the scowls of the Emirati men who are all glaring at me. So I make my excuses and go and carry a plank on my nose for a while in the “great” team building game currently ensuing.

The water is foul, warm water in plastic bottles is beyond disgusting. So no-one is taking in enough fluid to match the ridiculous sweat pouring from them. You can feel a certain tension slipping over everyone which the organisers are desperately trying to ignore.

After an afternoon’s worth of stupidity, the sun goes down, and we all fervently hope that this is now over and we can go home. Not a chance.

You may have heard that days in the desert are hot but at night it is very cold. Whoever told you that has never been anywhere near the UAE. In the humid climes of the Emirates, Bahrain, coastal Saudi, Qatar, etc. it stays hot and gets even more humid now the sun is no longer supplying any motivation for evaporation.

The evening meal comes, and is frankly speaking rank. Most of us avoid it like the plague, the brave few who venture forth will be counting coup on their own bowels in the morning. There is still nothing worth drinking available either.

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