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From 2012 to 2013

December 31st, 2012 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Austria, Dubai, Football, Hong Kong, London Olympics, soccer, Sports Journalism, The National, UAE, World Cup

I find the notion of “2013” awkward. It’s the 13. Not a felicitous number. Though it does sound more like a football score than anything we have had in a while. Which is good. Moreso than 20-10 or 20-09, certainly, or even 20-07.

Just looking at it, it seems as if it is a prime number, but it isn’t. Not remotely. It is divisible by 3, 11, 33, 61, 183 and 671.

However, it is the first year since 1987 that does not feature at least two of the same digits — zeros, nines, ones or eights.

Generally, I don’t like the end of any year. Time is moving too fast. There’s that. A new year reinforces that everyone I know just got older.

And I generally have gotten used to being in whichever year we just left. I was comfortable with 2012.

On a micro level, New Year’s Eve tonight is personally notable:

It marks the fifth consecutive we have celebrated in Asia. Hong Kong in 2008, then Abu Dhabi for the past four.

As I noted a year ago, when you start racking up the New Year’s Eves in foreign lands, you are becoming ever closer to being an expat, and not just a temporary worker or some long-form tourist.

In some ways, I am a bit sad to be outside the U.S. as another year begins, but more than ever I have a sense of “opportunity here, but not there” … “there” being the U.S.  Also, with a little distance, the endless vilification and shouting that has posed in the guise of “political discourse” in the U.S. for quite some time now seems really, really tiresome, and to be away from that … no loss, certainly.

This New Year’s Eve came with one co-worker over to visit in the new apartment, and as midnight struck our second bottle of champagne was nearly finished.

We stepped out on the balcony and were able to watch fireworks being shot off  in the distance, on what I took to be Saadiyat Island. The tower we are in, on Abu Dhabi Island, is oriented in such a way that I can’t see up to the Abu Dhabi Corniche, where the big fireworks show was going off.

And after admiring the fairly good (but distant) stuff from Saadiyat, we came back in and watched the UAE version of Ryan Seacrest, a man in a kandoura and gutra, but with a flawless American accent) and his perky sidekick finish ringing in the new year.

The focal point of the broadcast was a 10-minute fireworks show at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. Not bad. Though I think it might have been better a year ago.

What happens in 2013? From a sports perspective, no Olympics. No World Cup. No major soccer tournaments. A bit dull, then.

What happens, big picture? More upheaval in the Arab world, I fear (though not here in the UAE). More stagnation in Western economies.

The past year … was not at all bad. Got to the London Games, at least peripherally, covered the UAE football team in Austria for two weeks. Spent a few weeks back home in the States. Had two excellent weeks in Spain and southern France. Took a new position, here at The National.

No, not at all bad. Maybe that is another reason why I generally do not like to see years end. Most of them have been good to me. I am lucky/blessed. Will 2013 continue in the same vein?

I suppose we will find out.


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