x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

No one has said anything ... yet

Saloon The loneliest Facebook groups in Abu Dhabi.

"Count your life by smiles, not tears... Count your age by friends, not years... "

The loneliest Facebook groups in Abu Dhabi Moving to a new country can be a lonely, alienating experience. Before the dawn of the internet, one generally had to overcome this problem by actually speaking to new people. Now anyone with an outlandish hobby or pronounced character trait can search out birds of a feather online. At least that's the idea. Facebook has proved particularly effective at uniting people in groups defined by a shared interest in some obsession, fad, company or location. Here in the capital, for example, the Abu Dhabi Mall group has an army of fans 1,294 strong. The Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness Club boasts a following of 729 fans.

But the capital remains a lonely place for more than a few people - even on Facebook, where a number of groups, mainly those established by expats, have failed to attract any followers other than the person who set up the group in the first place. The Al Dhafra insurance company is one such lonely group. The company's only fan is a 35-year-old Lebanese man who works as "a senior manager in a national insurance company". The area of the page on which fans can post comments reads: "No one has said anything... yet."

Another group of one, founded by a woman with a distinctly Russian name, is devoted to "Taco Bell in Abu Dhabi". Its listed address is the British School in Al Khubairat. The only Taco Bell in the UAE is in the Dubai Mall, so someone at the British School is either very confused, very hopeful or very entrepreneurial. Texans in Abu Dhabi formed in January and, after failing to expand its initial one-man membership, disappeared into the internet ether a few weeks later.

"Wer möchte deutsche lernen und sprechen?" another page, Deuschsprachige Club in Abu Dhabi, demands. (Translation: "Who wants to learn and speak German?") The answer seems to be: no one except the man asking, one Michael Schumacher. Even if this is the seven-time Formula One world champion and one of the richest sportsmen ever, Schumacher apparently cannot find any Deuschsprachige friends in Abu Dhabi. Perhaps he will make more acquaintances when the city hosts its first Grand Prix in November. Until then, his is a lone German voice echoing out to no one in particular.

Some groups are making a tiny bit of progress. Abu Dhabi Soul Mate boasts, if that is the right word, three members. A picture of the cast of Friends sharing milkshakes encourages potential members: "Count your life by smiles, not tears... Count your age by friends, not years... Don't be lonely in Abu Dhabi... Join here... You are not alone..." * Roland Hughes