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Mar 23, 2020
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Six years ago my friend Zlatan Filipovic (→) invited me to teach a workshop at the 'College of Architecture, Art and Design' at the American University of Sharjah (→). A fantastic and crazy experience through which I got curious about living and working in the Middle East. A few month later I received another invitation. This time from New York University Abu Dhabi (→) to co-teach a course in their January program. The fun continued and with a following job offer my family and I moved from fancy Berlin Friedrichshain to sandy Saadiyat Island (→). I started working as Assistant Professor at the Engineering Department of NYUAD – a designer surrounded by engineers!? A crash course into American academia. A steep learning curve with incredible colleagues, talented students and countless adventures. Browsing through the gigabytes of photos of this time, I can share about same amount of stories (and I promise that I will share them all at one point in life): I remember my daughter's first footsteps on a carpet in Sweihan desert, and how my son got almost stung by a deadly scorpion in a far-off wadi in the Omani mountains. Countless hours of digging the Pajero out of soft sands, incredible hot and humid soccer trainings, dolphins, turtles and pizza during sunsets at the beach. Moments in which the car thermometer showed 54°C and the kids turned mad because they had to stay inside while I was working safely in my cooled down office. I still feel sorry for this. I was able to visit the neighbouring countries Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but also India, Sri Lanka, China, The Philippines and Singapore. Not to forget several European countries, and the US. I fell in love with New York City in Fall, and with the rainfalls in the desert in Spring. I worked on numerous projects and was able to start and successfully run two research labs. And so on. Well, incredible times, that will always stay with me, my wife and the kids (that have even started to speak English to each-other and some Arabic phrases as well)!
I am writing those lines to share that this chapter comes to an end. My family and I have decided to move back from Abu Dhabi to Germany. During the coming Summer we will move to the city of Münster, a place that reminds my wife and me a lot of the ‘Auenland’ from Tolkien’s Middle Earth ( → The Shire). Chewing camels are exchanged with grazing horses that we will look at from our breakfast table.
To all my friends and colleagues from New York University's Global Network and the befriended universities in the region, to the research groups and lab members, the different museums and ministries, the German School, all clubs and groups, students and research assistants, to my band ‘Dads in Denial’ and everyone that I have met during this incredible time, I hope that we will be able to stay in touch and meet again. Inshallah!
All the best, and stay healthy!
East view onto NYUAD campus. The bridge on the right connects Saadiyat Island with the city of Abu Dhabi. The skyscrapers at the water front are part of Reem Island. (Picture taken in March 2020 with a DJI Mavic Mini drone.)
We are going to rent the house in the picture above. It is part of a stud farm about 20 minutes drive from Münster city.