Canberra is home to more than 100 Embassies and High Commissions from all over the world. So we wanted to know what the diplomats think of Canberra.
Here His Excellency Dr Obaid Al Ketbi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Australia, tells us about what he loves best.
1. Peacefulness. I know that Canberra gets criticised for being quiet. But because I am travelling all the time, backwards and forwards to the UAE or around Australia, it is wonderful for me to return to a haven of peace, where I can just relax.
2. Genuinely friendly people. I have worked in many places all over the world. But the people I’ve met here have been uniquely warm and welcoming. Obviously I meet a lot of people through an official capacity, but I have found that their hospitality has extended well beyond diplomatic protocol and, as a result, I have made some wonderful friends.
3. Encouraging physical activity and education. I really enjoy running and cycling and Canberra makes it so easy. Since coming here, I have also discovered hiking—with so many wonderful places in and around Canberra to explore. But what I particularly love about hiking in Canberra is that I can climb somewhere like Mount Ainslie or Black Mountain, and be able to read all about it through signage and information at the top. We don’t have this in the UAE and I am actually going to suggest that we do the same back home, as it’s a wonderful way to find out about the local history and geography of a place.
4. So many different cuisines in one small area. The UAE is home to more than 200 nationalities, so we are exposed to different cuisines from all over the world. But what I love about Canberra is that in one 500-metre stretch, you can pass several restaurants of different nationalities. I think that is truly unique. I will often walk around the city and just pop into a restaurant that takes my fancy.
5. A fun and engaging diplomatic community. Through my love of sport, I have made some wonderful connections with other diplomats. I helped start a soccer team for some of the Ambassadors here and we play three times a week. I often go running or cycling with other diplomats and politicians. And the community has even nicknamed me the Ambassador for Sport—often sending newly arrived diplomats my way, if they’re interested in joining a local team.