Off To the UAE (Country 21)

In a short while I will board a plane to begin my journey from Chicago to Dubai. It’s about eight hours to London and then another seven to Dubai, so I’ll arrive about 11:30pm local time – on Saturday.

This will be my first trip to the Middle East in 15 years, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to it. I spent the month of October, 1994, in and around Damascus, Syria, and I really enjoyed myself.

Yes, I can make this work

I especially remember the food as being particularly good. I liked the shawarma, best when bought right off the street and served with lots of sauce. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

But my fondest memories are of the people. While I think one can never go wrong underestimating a government’s ability to royally screw things up (my own included), in my travels I’ve found that people around the world are basically the same. They want to be safe and they want to be rewarded for the work they do. They want the opportunity to better themselves and to provide for their families. Especially in technical circles, they like solving problems and things like OpenNMS can help with that. Plus, the fact that OpenNMS is free and open source encourages cooperation, and people know that recognition in open source is based on merit – no matter the color of your skin, the name of your God or the TLD of your e-mail address.

I’ve been pretty lucky in the fact that the Internet has provided me with a way to keep up with people I’ve met over the years, but I’m still missing contact information for some of them. The picture above was taken in Damascus and the man on the left is Ghazwan M. Hawach. My Google-fu has failed me, so just in case Ghazwan gets on the Internet and finds this post – please drop me a note. I’d love to find out what you’ve been up to.

So, outside of the long hours in the air I am eager to be off to Dubai. I’m working for a company called Etisalat, which happens to be the 13th largest wireless communications provider in the world. Although you’ve probably never heard of them, they have more subscribers than Verizon, AT&T or Sprint. I can’t wait to get OpenNMS to rock on their network.

But I also can’t wait to make some new friends and eat some shawarma. The fact that Dubai is much warmer than Chicago doesn’t hurt, either.

So welcome, United Arab Emirates, as our 21st client country.

See you on the other side.