Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mid-East Blog # 10

March 13, 2016 - Abu Dhabi- - Dubai

Abu Dhabi and the falcon portion of our Blog (# 9) prompted questions from our readers. Following are the answers:

·        It is startling to see the "nothingness" of the desert from the road and from the air albeit, at times, it is a pretty sight.

 Driving From Abu Dhabi To Dubai

 Look Closely At Lower Right Corner. 

There is a country-wide irrigation system. There are probably many thousands of miles of rubber tubing/hoses that are used to irrigate plants and trees.

·       Goat, dates and camel (milk, meat, etc.) could be considered a "local" product. Everything else must be imported

·       Many USA institutions have satellite facilities in this area i.e. Cleveland Clinic
·       There is no crime (more on this later)
·        Miles of wonderful empty beaches and/or the Corniche (Pedestrian walkway)
·       Diabetes is a major problem - some diet (fast food) issues and genetics causes problem
·       Lawrence of Arabia traveled  in this area

·       Sharia Law is here re capital punishment
·       With all of the building and using ocean water for hotel water features, there is now an imbalance of nature - too many shrimp, turtles, etc.
·       There are three types of falcons: Peregrine, Saker and Gyr. The Hawk and other similar birds are falcon cousins.

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Following our enlightened tour of the Masdar City, we went to a marina/harbor area (for lunch) to one of the oldest restaurants in Abu Dhabi: Al Arish Restaurant. 

All meals have been very good. This lunch was exceptional; perhaps the best for what it was. There was a fantastic buffet. Most dishes were local/exotic.  There was a leaning toward Mid-east and Indian food. Eating at this place required one to be "adventurous."

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It was an easy one hour bus ride that took us from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
Dubai License Plate

From the air and from some of our hotels it was easy to see that there is a lot of desert. Driving through the desert reinforces that "there is nothing out there..." 

Desert  - Late Afternoon

It's amazing what the Israelis have done in terms of growing food in the desert. Too bad the Arab countries can't/aren't doing the same.

In the long run, relying on oil, commerce and tourism may not be enough to keep these countries going.

We were very fortunate to have a second "local guide" on this part of the trip. This person is an architect who  pointed out some of the exciting changes that are taking place.

 Heading Toward  Dubai City Center

Dubia City Almost Looks Artificial - Like A Set or Backdrop

We thought that the Doha, Qatar building architecture was amazing. Then, when we saw the extraordinary building in Abu Dhabi, we concluded that nothing would surpass what we saw and experienced. Well, that would not be the case.

Every Conceivable Architectural Design Is In Dubai

When questioned about this design  and why it is being built (which will be used primarily as a restaurant and observation area), the Architect responded with, "Decisions are based on -  Why Not?"

Design Uses Curves And Angles For Beauty And Shade

Twin Towers

Marina Area Hotel 

Below The Buildings Are Wide (And Beautiful) Pedestrian Walkways

This Walkway Is Outside Our Hotel

Construction throughout Dubai is at a fast pace!

Construction outside Dubai's city center is also at a faster pace!

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This trip certainly provided a better understanding of UAE . The UAE is really a confederation of states - each of which is "ruled" by a Sheik, King or some other type of dignitary. We always thought that Emirates Airline was the national airline. Not the case. Etihad (Abu Dhabi hub) is the national airline which competes with Emirates.

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the confederation. It projects a "smaller feeling" and definitely does not project the fast pace metropolis of Dubai.
Of the few people that we know that visited Dubai, there was a common thread with their experiences. Their one to two days was not enough. We gave ourselves a week. (We remained in Dubai after the Tauck tour).

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It's almost impossible to describe our positive feelings with the extra time we had in Dubai providing opportunities to experience days, nights, city and beach. Even pictures will not fully project what is going on at Palm Jumerirah, the Burj Khalifa area as well as Bastakiya and other nearby areas.

Taking Driver-less Tram To  Lunch at "Palm" Area. 

Palm Jumerirah Hotel 
 1700 st.ft Rooms, Two stories - Lots of $$$$ Each Night

And To Think That You Have To Take A shuttle To The Beach?
No Thanks!

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Bastakiya is part of an old 1700's fort which shows the traditional court yards, narrow alley ways for shade purposes as well as an old wind-tower used for air conditioning.

Fort Walls Made From Coral And Nearby Rock Material

 Watch Tower

Water Was Brought To This Area In Kegs

Complex Used Wind Tower To Cool Area

The Dubai museum, small in size but packed with a variety of re-created displays showing traditional ways of life.


There were also rooms filled with archaeological finds discovered in this location.

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Following the museum, we walked over to what was probably a historical house converted into a mosque and Moslem cultural center.

We Had Two Guest Speakers: This Man Emphasized The Need For Communication, Peace and Understanding

Jerry Listens To A 21 Year-old Stanford Student "Glorifying" Her Life As A Moslem and Islam Religion

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 Definitely Not Marriott Courtyard

Burk Khalifa - world's  tallest building

Jerry Is Trying To Take Picture of Building

Burk Khalifa Behind Our Palace Hotel

 Burk Khalifa: 124 Stories Up - Looking Down At City Life

Burk Khalifa -  Light Show

Building light show above, fountain show below...

Movement. Music And Light

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Connected to Burk KhalifaI is an area reminiscent of Las Vegas (in terms of a re-created/artificial complex). There is the world's large mall - The Dubai Mall along with high-end souk shops, pedestrian walk ways, a soon to be completed opera house and musical fountains larger than what we will see at the Bellagio Hotel. 

Every conceivable international fast food and upscale restaurants, fashion designers, novelty stores (Disney) can be found at this mall. There is a "national plan" to make this area so attractive - so inviting that international travelers will come to Dubai to shop rather than Europe or the USA.

Dubai's Mall Design Is Beautiful

Everything is large in Dubai:

Huge Aquarium In Mall

Recognize the brands?

For The Man That Has Everything In White...

Colorful Abayas For The Ladies

Parts Of A Watch

International Shoppers

When finished with the shopping, there is always - a device!

If it's too hot outside and if you can't find it at the Dubai Mall, check out the Emirates Mall...

You can always ski...

 Skiing Inside A Mall

 Why Not?

End Of The Day 

Finish The Day With An Evening Meal - With Ambiance

There's Plenty Of "Ambiance!"

Water Pipes - Ready To Go (or Smoke)

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Everything is large in Dubai - especially the front doors of our hotel

Behind These Hotel Doors Is An Oasis!

Our Dubai hotel (The Palace) had to be a 6-star property if there is such a category.

Beautiful grounds

Places to hang out...

Classy interior

 Evening (and day) entertainment

Spinning Dancer 

Areas if you want to be left alone...

Labor is cheap! 

People are continuously scrubbing, dusting, polishing and in the below case, there is a person who's job description is to carefully put petals in the fountain and remove the old rose petals.

Housekeeping can't do enough...

Let's Line Up The Shoes - No Sense Wasting Time Looking For The Missing Shoe

  Many Hotel Places Where We Can Stop and Take A Picture With A Friend

The palace hotel has lots of unusual artwork 

and antiques 

To Get A Better Picture, Jerry Moved The Stand and Broke This Old Saddle
(It Got Fixed. - Whew!)

What A Great Place To Have Tea

90% of the guests were from Arabian countries

Jerry made friends with a chef leading to a kitchen tour
Tables Lines Up - Ready To Go - For Room Service

Complying With Health Laws

Getting Pastries Ready For Next Meal


Guess what these are?
Purses Made Out Of Sugar!

Time For Tea and Sweets!

This Is Bread?


 Delicious Salads!

Different Kinds Of Dates

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Like at other hotels, umbrellas are provided for the guests should it rain.

Rain in Qatar? Rain In Oman? Rain in UAE?

It Rains - It Floods!

Everyone is friendly - hotel staff and guests

Jerry met and "encouraged" Naura to talk about her life. As a citizen of Saudi Arabia with the strict Sharia law, she needs to be completely covered in (what she stated is) the "depressing" Abaya. 

Then, the pretty flower "blossoms" when she crosses the border into UAE with her colorful Abayas. (Notice the tennis shoes).

To make matters worse, she has traveled in our country wearing jeans, pretty tops and funky shoes only to return to Saudi Arabia and the "depressing" Abayas.

It must be difficult for her to have a foot in each "culture." Or, she may simply accept her ways of life. Who knows...?

Jerry wished that there would have been additional time to talk to Naura and to learn more about her culture, women living in Saudi Arabia, etc.
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Being nice to hotel staff doesn't hurt.

We were gifted...

A Gazillion Calorie Cheesecake 

Followed by a special tea

Followed by a gift - two special, gourmet cheeses


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