United Arab Emirates – Dubai!

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The United Arab Emirates is next door to Saudi Arabia.  David often flies from Medina in Saudi to Dubai to make connecting flights.  Below the United Arab Emirates,  is the country of Oman which is now on our “bucket list” after talking with someone who has visited there.

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Flying over Oman

After a four hour flight from Nepal, I was the city of Dubai which is in the country of the United Arab Emirates.  As my friend Joan said, “talk about cultural whiplash!”  I went from crowded congested roads like this:IMG_0197

To organized roads like this:IMG_0229

I went from a city like this in a developing country:  IMG_4822

To a city like this, in one of the most wealthiest countries: IMG_5795

David and I had been to Dubai four years ago to visit our dear friends, Diane and Jose.  Honestly, I really didn’t care for it back then but I missed my friends.  Diane and I had been trying to connect throughout the past four years and for a variety of reasons, it never worked out.  This time, it was perfect!  I had a layover in Dubai so I seized the moment and arranged a visit with Diane and Jose.

The last time we were there, David and I did most of the touristy things.  Everything in Dubai is the biggest, tallest or the best.  I compare it to an adult Disney World or Las Vegas on steroids.  We visited Mall of Emirates that features the ski slope in the middle of the desert!  Saw the Dubai Fountains, the world’s largest choreographed fountains at the tallest building, Burj Khalifa. At the 7-star Burj Al Arab building, that you cannot enter unless you have a dinner or overnight reservation; Diane, David and I had high tea on the 27th floor.  At the time, it cost $125 per person for a cocktail, coffee and petite sandwiches, pastries and cakes.  We could look down on the man-made, palm tree shaped island. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Then there is the Dubai Mall that has a full size skating rink, aquarium that has a glass bottom boat and although it doesn’t make the top ten “biggest mall list,” it is the size of 50 football fields. I have wonderful memories of our first visit and pictures…which, by the way, I tried to upload to share with you but for some reason, this website isn’t reading my old files.

Even though we hadn’t planned on visiting the Dubai Mall, we did go because of the technical ban that Trump placed on people flying from many Arab countries.  I could not bring my computer or my Kindle on the plane. Diane and I made a trip to the mall so I could buy a book to read on the plane.  Here are a few pictures that I took while there: IMG_0314

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The ice skating rink inside the Dubai Mall.

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This is the aquarium inside of the mall.  It holds close to 10 million liters (or over 2.5 million gallons) of water!

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The structure at the top of the aquarium is the glass bottom boat.

Shortly after we left Dubai, the Miracle Gardens opened.  Other than returning to visit with Jose and Diane, I had no desire to return to Dubai again…..except, I really wanted to see the gardens.

It was a great week.  I only wish that David had been able to visit, too!

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Diane and Jose who we met in the Dominican Republic back in 2012.  Today, Jose works at a power plant in Abu Dhabi.  They have lived in Dubai for the past 5 years!

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This area is The Marina and it is area where Diane and Jose live.  There is a great restaurant, Baker and Spice along the canal.

Diane and I did some fun activities….she goes to pilates regularly and I joined her for a class.  It was very good…lots of balancing and core work but she said that it wasn’t as rigorous as most of the instructor’s classes…that was fine by me!!!  Another day, we took a ferry ride to the part of Dubai called “The Creek”.  It was interesting seeing Dubai from the water……IMG_5795

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There is so much money in this city.  It just makes me shake my head!

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Diane said that this is something new….there is a table and chairs on the platform that the crane is holding.  People sit at the table and then are hoisted higher and enjoy (?) a dinner.  I have lots of questions about this….for starters, what if you have to go to the bathroom?  How are you served the food?  What if there are different courses?  Definitely different.  I just looked up the webpage.  It is a company out of Belgium and they have 40 sites around the world.  In Dubai, prices run from $135-215, depending on the meal time.  If you are curious, here is the webpage:  www.dinnerinthesky.ae

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This is the beautiful Burj al Arab building where David, Diane and I had “high tea.”  A David funny, he thought it was called “high tea” because we had it on the 27th floor!  I have read that it is called high tea because originally, it was eaten at the table as opposed to “low tea” which was taken in the parlor while sitting on sofas and comfortable chairs.   In the background, is the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

It took about 2 hours to for the ferry to arrive at the Creek.  It is an interesting spot.  The old souks (markets) are there.  There is the gold, spice and textile and now, there are several souvenir stalls.  I found it very annoying because as we walked by, we were constantly being encouraged to stop in “it doesn’t cost anything to look!”

Further down, if memory serves me correctly, was the working port where the ships came in and delivered everything from around the world.  When we were last there, David and I watched them unload appliances, food, cars….everything is imported here, which is one reason why everything is so expensive.

We were looking for a place to have lunch.  Diane remembered a great restaurant that a friend had taken her to.  We found it and I am glad we did.  It was a lovely spot and not as touristy as places directly on the water.  We were surrounded by women in the burkas and men in their traditional dress of a thawb.  The Arabian Tea House Cafe was in the courtyard of a traditional home.

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The Arabian Tea House Cafe

We both ordered the same thing…falafels and a Greek Salad.  The falafels were a little drier than I preferred and the salad had a little too much dressing on it.  Still, I loved the atmosphere….it was really an oasis from the heat of the day.  Did I mention it was hot in Dubai?  Them temperature was in the high nineties!  Another wonderful thing was the refreshing beverage that Diane introduced me to…..it was so yummy!!!  It was fresh mint lemonade….when they say fresh, it was fresh…freshly squeezed lemons and mint leaves in water….normally, they add sugar but we ordered it with the sugar syrup on the side as they tend to like things very sweet in that part of the world.  As it was, neither of us added sugar.  I must remember to make it this summer in Maine…it was so good!

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Doesn’t that look refreshing and yummy?

Miracle Gardens

We were in Dubai in January of 2013, the Miracle Gardens opened on Valentine’s Day, 2013!  I missed it by a month!  It was well worth the wait.  Of course, it is the world’s largest natural flower garden with over 109 million flowers planted.  I will let my photos speak for me….IMG_5819IMG_5822

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This is a life-size floral A380 airplane from Emirates! Emirates Airlines…is an amazing airline and is a business of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates.

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Another view of the airplane.

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Whimsical and fun!

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These ostriches with their flower bodies were throughout the park.

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Having a little fun….

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This is a traditional boat called an Abra. They are still used to ferry people around The Creek area.

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Great day with Diane and her wonderful group of friends!

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The Butterfly Garden

Well, this was an unexpected treat!  Right across from the Miracle Garden was the Butterfly Garden.  Yay!!!  It was four domes of indoor gardens that had butterflies flying around.  They were beautiful!  There were enclosed gazebos which you could sit with the butterflies and they would land on your head, hand or back.  IMG_5881

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Inside the first dome.

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This guy landed on my back!

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Inside the second dome.

 

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Butterflies feasting on bananas.

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Glow Garden

One evening, Diane and I ventured to the “Glow Garden.”  I wasn’t quite certain what it was but it sounded like fun and it was.  I don’t quite know how to explain it …. a display of animals, flowers and buildings from around the world all decorated with lights!  For someone, like me, who absolutely loves color…this was close to sensory overload.  I loved it, especially the displays that were reflexed in the water…..here is my photo tour:IMG_0283IMG_0234IMG_0239IMG_0241IMG_0247IMG_0252IMG_0257IMG_0273IMG_0255IMG_0254IMG_0271IMG_0264IMG_0279IMG_0280

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Model of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa

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Another view of the Burj Khalifa, the lights changed color after a few minutes.

My final night in Dubai, I ate like a royal!!!  As a thank you to to their employees for their extra hard work during an important project, Jose’s company arranged a dinner at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.  Jose invited me to come along….I was excited and grateful.  It was an opportunity to see the palace of one of the sheiks of the UAE!

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This is the sheik’s private entrance to his private living quarters at the palace.  The other part of the palace, where the event was, is a hotel.

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Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

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The gate in the background is the entrance to a new palace being built. 

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Looking out over Abu Dhabi from the Emirates Palace

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Inside the Emirates Palace

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Mural of the palace

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I love this picture of a man in the traditional thawb looking out one of the windows at the palace. 

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Even the ladies’ room was opulent!!!

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The dinner was held outside, under the stars.  It was a lovely evening to eat al fresco!

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There were plenty of games for the children to play!  This was musical chairs…guess a game I grew up with is universal!  Also, they had a talent show that was very entertaining!

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The setting sun over the dinner party!

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The party was over, my visit had ended.  Hope it doesn’t take another 4 years, my dear friend before we see each other again.  Thanks for a great week!

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