SWEA 40 years young.
During November the 14th until 17th, 300 Swedish women gathered together in Dubai for the World meeting and 40 years SWEA celebration. We were three of us participating from Bangkok. Most of us arrived a day earlier and many stayed a couple of days after the meeting, as two trips one to Abu Dhabi and one to Ras Al Khaimah were organized.
It is only after having participated in a World meeting or Annual meeting, that you will truly understand what SWEA is all about. It is a magical experience to meet so many Swedish women, living all over the world; young women, middle aged women and elderly women. It’s the mixture that makes it so interesting. To hear about other women’s experiences, to get to know about for you previously unknown traditions, other women’s destinies etc. All this makes SWEA so fascinating.
We all, except the SWEOR living in Dubai, checked in to Holiday Inn Dubai Festival, located not far from the airport. I admired the hotel staff for taking such good care of us and their patience with us. It can’t be easy to satisfy almost 300 women with different wishes and expectations.
The first evening, some of us met at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Joe’s, for a light dinner. A nice breeze and beautiful view welcomed us. We were quite tired as we left Bangkok early morning, so we made an early evening to be sure of getting ready in time and fit for the first day in Dubai.
Thursday morning several activities were planned. Some SWEOR went golf playing at the Emirates Golf Club, some made a trip to Abu Dhabi with a visit to the Grand Mosque and Louvren. Abu Dhabi is about 1 1/2 hours drive from Dubai. Some went to visit Jumeirah Mosque and the Etihad museum and some to explore the New Dubai or the Old Dubai.
If you were longing to spend some money, the tour to the Gold & Diamond Park and Souk Madinat was waiting.
I went to see the New Dubai and it was fascinating.
In the evening, a Welcome cocktail and dinner awaited us at the Crowne Plaza, Festival City located close by. A great evening with good food and wine and last, but not least, much chatting.
When I arrived to the hotel the first day, a woman started to look at me in the entrance and saying “Are you not Agneta?” I said, “Yes, I am”. I must admit I couldn’t place this woman even if she had something familiar. Believe it or not, we were class mates in Gothenburg and graduated together. This is, for sure, exciting. After almost 40 years,not having seen each other, we meet again in Dubai…..this is also what SWEA is about.
On Friday, my two companions from Bangkok and myself took part in the World meeting. During this meeting you have the chance to become updated about SWEA and what’s going on and future plans.
There was to begin with, a common information about SWEA, to be followed by a presentation by Jessica Bjurström, who informed us about the EXPO 2020 that will take place in Dubai. Sweden will have a pavilion built of trees from our forests.
We could listen to a Swedish, young woman, Maria Sundin Al Mansoori, married to a man from Dubai and her life in Dubai, the differences about the two so different cultures, her daily life with kids etc. A very fun and interesting presentation.
After Coffee break sponsored by Electrolux, we learned about leadership and change of working habits from Roma Bratt, representing SWEA Austria.
Next on the agenda was a presentation of Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center by Professor Dag Blanc, Uppsala University. This man we also got to know during the Summer dinner in Stockholm. The Research Center is taking care of old SWEA documentations and people can use it for their theses.
After lunch, we were informed about the work SWEA Communication Committee does by Karin Högman from SWEA’s Communication committee.
We also had Helena McCombie from SWEA Professional San Francisco, telling us about what SWEA Professional is all about. Most chapters today have started SWEA Professional. It’s a good way for working women to meet. The meetings are mostly during evenings and are focusing on business.
The last point of the agenda was a presentation by Christina Moliteus, former SWEA International President. She talked about SWEA through 40 years and announced the location for the next World meeting 2021 which will take place in Fort Lauderdale, US.
In the evening, many went for a dinner in the desert with camel ride and henna tattoos.
Our President Anna Frummerin from SWEA Bangkok and Susie Ogeborg participated. I decided to take a taxi and see the enormous Dubai Mall, a shopping mall with 1500 shops, restaurants, ice skating rink, cinemas etc. From here you also have a great view of Burj Khalifa, which is being up lighted during evenings. Believe it or not, it takes you only 59 seconds with the elevator to the 125th floor.
I didn’t go because I wanted to shop, no, I was interested in the Fontaine, which I wanted to compare it with our Fontaine at Iconsiam. It was beautiful, water in all kind of formations and with suitable music.
Saturday morning I went for a Yacht tour with bubbles. This was, in my opinion, the best excursion, not only due to the bubbles and strawberries……
We got to see the famous hotel Atlantis located on the Palm, we had a swim in the turquoise water and after a lovely lunch was served on board, great day.
In the evening we all got dressed to impress, GOLD & WHITE was the theme for the Gala dinner at the Emirate Golf Club.
This evening, I think will stay in our mind for a long time.We were greeted with bubbles and live music when we entered the club. Plenty of lovely decorated tables in the garden. Welcoming by the SWEA Dubai. Delicious food, a salmon cooked to perfection and that for 300 persons, amazing. A professional singer, member of SWEA Dubai, entertained and we all were in a high mood listening to ABBA hits and much more. What a night….
We were Dancing Queens until it was time to say good night. Well organized with golf cars taking us to the waiting buses. It was very thoughtful of SWEA Dubai to organize the buses back to the hotel at different times, not everyone is a night owl.
Some of us were longing for a beer and a little snack back at the hotel. Of course the restaurants were closed, but we found two men from the room service and they happily served us beer and snacks outside. Well, the pleasure didn’t last too long, the night manager arrived, saw and heard us and we got to know, we were absolutely not allowed drinking alcohol where we sat. After some friendly smiles from us, he allowed us to move in to the empty dining area and we could finish our night cap.
Not many hours of sleep that night.
Sunday morning, last day for us not going for the “after tours”.
I went to explore the Gold & Diamond Park and Souk Madinat.
Dubai can compete with Bangkok when it comes to Jewelry stores. I couldn’t resist buying a small camel to put on my bracelet. A visit to the souk and another delicious lunch.
Time to say goodbye……
I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to leave. This meeting in the Arabic world was fantastic from the beginning to the end.
Three very happy Bangkok SWEOR boarded the Emirates with many good memories and a promise to share our experiences with you back home. A huge THANK YOU to SWEA Dubai.
If you are Swedish and not yet a SWEA, become one, because you are worth it!
SWEA rocks, believe us. Cheers!