As I was planning my itinerary between Los Angeles and Manama, Bahrain, I asked how much money it would cost to extend my layover in Dubai. As I have with other fellowship programs, I knew that it would cost a bit extra, but it was definitely worth it. For $150, I spent an additional four days touring the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE is located just east of Saudi Arabia and north of Oman. For reference, Bahrain is located in the top left of the photo, a short two hour flight away.
|Portraits of the ruling family must be featured in every public building.|
|As is common in many Arab countries, the ruling family and national flag are featured prominently throughout the country.|
|A typical street in Old Dubai. Note the minaret in the background, where the Imam will call to prayer over the loudspeaker.|
|Once the Imam calls to prayer, the pious will stop what they are doing to pray on the street. In Islam, it is customary to pray five times a day.|
One of the most interesting places in Old Dubai is the Dubai Museum. Located in the Al Fahidi Fort, the museum features artifacts and displays from the Emirates past as well as exhibitions on traditional Emirati culture.
|The Dubai Museum welcomes more than 600,000 visitors every year from around the world.|
|An original wall from the Al Fahidi Fort. Built in 1787, it is the oldest building in Dubai.|
|The outside of Al Fahidi Fort with the UAE flag in the foreground. Before 1971, there were 7 independent Emirates. In 1971, Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan united the Emirates to create a new country, the United Arab Emirates|
|A mannequin reading a papyrus manuscript. I'm reading my iPhone.|
A short walk from the Dubai museum is the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, which dates back to the 1890s. Walkable streets are punctuated with hip coffee shops, restaurants and fascinating street art:
|The Al Fahidi Neighborhood was saved from demolition by a conservation group in the 1980s, and has since been designated a historical site.|
|One art gallery featured a humorous take on daily life in Dubai. Given the extreme heat in the summer, this artist suggests that playing golf in the summer is a bad idea.|
The next day, I ventured into "new" Dubai to experience a number of extraordinary superlatives the country proudly claims-the largest indoor mall in the world, the (3rd) largest indoor ski slope in the world, the tallest tower in the world, the highest observation deck in the world, the largest fountain show in the world, and the largest man-made island in the world:
|With more than 1200 shops in 13 million square feet of retail space, the Dubai Mall is bigger than 50 football fields!|
|The waterfalls at the Dubai Mall are more than three stories high|
|The fountains featured right outside the mall in Burj Khalifa Lake. Below is a video of the fountain show:|
|View from the Burj Khalifa. Most of the skyline was built within the last 15 years|
|SkiDubai is the worlds third largest indoor ski slope, and is kept at a chilly 28 degrees year round. With highs in the summer reaching 120 degrees, Ski Dubai is a shocking 92 degrees cooler!|
|Approximately 10,000 people call Palm Jumeirah home.|
|A screen capture of my cell phone to prove I actually visited! The Palm Jumeirah monorail runs along the spine of the island, and takes 10 minutes to reach end to end.|
The outer dome is 279 feet high
The courtyard measures 180,000 square feet and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world
The Sheikh Zayed Grad Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from the Faustig Company in Munich, Germany. Each chandelier incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier measures 33 feet in diameter and is 49 feet high.
During my tour to Abu Dhabi, I befriended two women from Atlanta and one woman from Perth, Australia. Since each lady had a son around my age, and I mentioned that I was looking to buy a present for my mom, they enthusiastically offered to help. After the tour ended, we ventured to the Gold Souk in Dubai in search of a gift for my mom. Little did I know, these ladies ran a hard bargain. Not only did they help me score a great deal on a 18 karat gold chain and pendant, but they also got the merchant to buy us dinner and beverages in the process! Thank you very much for the help-my mom loved her present!
|An example of the goods available in the Gold Souk.|
The next day, I went on a desert safari. We rode in a 1950 Series 1 Land Rover deep into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to try our luck and see Arabian oryxes:
|The 1950 Land Rover Series 1 was revolutionary for the Middle East because it was the first all terrain vehicle that could successfully navigate the difficult desert landscape.|
|The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the UAE's first national park. Arabian Oryx, desert monitors, gazelles, and Gordons Wildcats live within it's boundaries.|
|A sunset over the sand dunes|
Below is a demographic breakdown of the UAE from 2015:
|50% of the population, (roughly 4 million people) are from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. Most Indians, from my time there, seem to come from the Muslim state of Kerla in the south of the country.|
|A Pakistani restaurant proudly displaying the UAE flag, a perfect representation of the cultural melting pot that is Dubai.|
If you have an opportunity to make it to the Middle East, make sure to visit the UAE. It's definitely worth the visit!
Until next time...