United Arab Emirates

UAE is a place to visit at least once. Impressive modern architecture, great restaurants and shopping, and all kinds of entertainment are neighbours with modest life of Bedouins in the desert. A dream country emerged from nothing in the middle of a desert. Everything “the” you have been looking for you will find here: the tallest, the most expensive, and the richest.

 

I have spent a week in UEA and found it to be an optimal time to get a taste of this country. However it can also be a destination for a city escape just for a long weekend. The first evening after the arrival I went to dine in front of the Burj lake to the most impressive singing fountain in the world. It indeed was a beautiful show with the good music, great fountain gymnastics and the colours. It was a perfect place to get a first impressing about Dubai. I returned there the following day to get to the top of the Burj Khalifa or Burj Dubai, the tallest artificial structure in the world (829.8 m). The viewing point was so high up, that I could almost fee it moving. It was a good place to get an idea about the scale of the city.

One day I dedicated to the Old Dubai, a place next to a river with low houses, some artisanal markets and souvenirs. There was also an opportunity to have a river boat tour, which was quite nice to escape the middle day heat.

 

After a couple of days in the city I longed for nature, but in UAE you have 3 choices: to visit a desert, to visit artificial flower park or go to the artificial beach to enjoy the sea. I started with the Desert experience. It was a good deal as it included a jeep ride on the dunes, a short camel ride and sand boarding for an hour. The jeep drive was absolutely crazy as it felt that we would roll over a dune any minute and the sandy landscapes outside of my window was dancing a break dance. Luckily we did not die as our driver proved to be quite a master. He also offered his services as a photo-taker, so we got some good shots.

I had done sand boarding before, so I just observed others struggling on the dunes, but they seemed like they had fun. If you are a good snowboarder then you might get it easier than others. The camel ride was great, not too long to get bored and not too short not to realize how challenging it is too be in the camel for days.

 

Still missing the nature I decided to go to the Dubai Miracle Garden, a flower park not very far from the city. The designs presented there were quite impressive, there was a house fully made of flowers, a car, plenty of flowerbeds, flowers animals and recognized images or figures. It was quite refreshing to be among flowers and also think about how much work it was to cultivate them in the middle of the desert.

 

I could not miss checking out the Atlantis Water Park located on the manmade island in the shape of a Palm tree.

It was entertaining, but also a cultural experience. There were plenty of tourists, but also a lot of locals with families, where all the ladies and girls were swimming in special long dresses and some of them with covered heads. Obviously they could not enjoy some of the multiple water slides, because that could be dangerous in such wear. Two of the slides blew my mind away. One of them was the highest slide in the world that I had been trying to approach several times and had left fearful until I finally decided that it was probably my only chance, so now or never.  I did it! Well I could not even look down, when I pushed myself down and my eyes were closed so hard that I was in total darkness flying to the abyss. The descent was so quick, that fear was transformed to joy as soon as I hit the water. It took some courage, but I did it again just to force myself keep the eyes open and experience it fully. My verdict is, it is not deadly, it is doable and fun, and probably something to brag about later. The second slide was not less scary as you had to stand in the middle of a round sport which at some point opened up under your feet and you would fall straight down unexpectedly. Plenty of adrenaline, the level of which was going down when after first two seconds of the fall you found yourself sliding in a glass tube beyond which there was some fish.

Besides the slides there were many pools and places to rest, a great place for a family or friends day together.

 

To learn more about the country I took a day trip to Abu Dhabi. On the way there from Dubai we stopped to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which was one of the most beautiful architectural works I have ever seen in my life! It was almost too bright to look at how white it was. With its columns, domes and mosaics it was simply perfect. The interior design was as stunning as the building itself. I spent a long time admiring two Swarovski chandeliers that kept my imagination so strong that I could not see everything else not in a running pace after. Even if you decide to skip going to Abu Dhabi, take a taxi to this Mosque, because it is worth the whole trip to UAE.

Abu Dhabi gave me an impression of being less touristy and more stylish. We drove around the city and stopped in a couple of significant places like ones of the most famous and expensive hotels and beaches. My biggest impression of this trip besides the Mosque was a golden ATM which spitted gold bars instead of cash.

 

UAE is one of the richest countries in the world and the citizens are very wealthy people. You will see a lot of Arab people working in the offices, shops and services, but the chances are they are from other Arab countries. The expat community is big, so you will see a lot of West looking people in the bars and clubs when going out.

 

I really enjoyed my time in the Emirates even though it was not my usual destination, it was filled with good experiences, tasty food and better cultural understanding .

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