Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Glorious Dubai!

It was Christmas time, we knew we wouldn't be around our family, and we were hungry.  Dubai had never been on our "go to" list, but it was a mere four hour flight from Addis Ababa, so off we went. Our goal was to eat good food, but we found a city with so much more.

Leaving Mek'ele behind
Flying in to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Dubai -- a city in the UAE that was planned and built in the last 40 years is a testament to creativity and vision.  82% of Dubai's population are expats with the majority of service workers coming from India and Pakistan.  We felt like everyone had taken a public relations course because no matter where we were, people offered their assistance and suggestions where we should visit.

We spent 6 days in Dubai, and loved every minute of it.  Here are some of the highlights:
View of Dubai from our hotel, The Hilton on Dubai Creek
Standing in the Fabric Souk in the old part of the city.  The shop sellers were the most aggressive we've ever come across in our travels.  At one point someone through a pashima on me that "made me look 30  years younger", and Roger was sporting a turban (a missed photo op).
Roger modeling some of the beautiful fabrics in the souk
Dubai Creek is a working harbour and full of action -- the perfect spot for our hotel!
Roger was very excited to see Tim Horton's trucks and coffee shops throughout Dubai

Well...a guy can dream, can't he?
 We took a ride on an abra along Dubai Creek to see the sites.

Dubai Museum in the old city

The front of this building is a mirror -- you can see our abra in the lower right hand corner

We stayed at the Hilton Dubai Creek - the first building on the left.  It wasn't one of the crazy, over the top hotels, but we loved it and would stay there again in a heart beat.

An abra on Dubai Creek --- great way to get around for next to nothing

We took a tour on an abra to get a better view of the creek.

As good in Dubai as it is in Calgary
Shopping in Dubai could be an Olympic sport.  The malls are over the top, and the stores are beautiful.  They make the West Edmonton Mall look pretty ho-hum.
There is a huge aquarium at the Dubai Mall

Hershey's Chocolate Store in the Dubai Mall

The malls are as opulent as the hotels

The tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa

The fountains at the Dubai Mall are famous for the water shows held throughout the day and night

View from the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa.  View was spectacular although we were a little disappointed we didn't get to go to the very top -- that's where some high end real estate is located.

On top of the world....kudos to Tom Cruise for his stunt work in Mission Impossible 3 where he was flinging himself off the Burj Khalifa.

It was neat to see a Botero sculpture beside the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa

View from our hotel

Our hotel went for glitz over homey for the holidays
The Hilton has a hotel on the ocean, so we spent the day there and enjoyed the refreshment provided by the Beach Butler.  Hotels are pretty well exempt from alcoholic restrictions.
The Beach Butler was a handy service that delivered cold beer, pop and water

Camel rides on the beach

The Mall of the Emirates is like none other.  Picture yourself in a city in the middle of a desert with temperatures that hit higher than 50C....and you can go skiing and tobogganing!

One of the smaller malls on Christmas Day

Our Christmas dinner was at a Thai restaurant

View from the roof where the hotel pool is located

Dubai Creek

Our room at the Hilton Dubai Creek
We took a Dune Buggy Safari out in the desert and had a ball.  Admittedly, it took me about half our allotted time to feel comfortable, but it was a great experience.

We stopped for a break and I took off my helmet --- somehow I ended up looking like a terrorist!

Roger's buggy broke down but there was a chase vehicle following us and has spare parts

Back safe and sound

Camels in the UAE definitely look much healthier than the ones we saw in Ethiopia.
I attended "Open Doors. Open Minds" at the Jumeira Mosque which was fascinating and well worth the visit.  It is a unique program where non-Muslims can go into the mosque and learn about Islam from volunteers.  Questions are taken from the audience, and it was interesting to learn more about the way Muslims dress and what their beliefs are.  As the volunteer said, there is nothing in the Qur'an that says Muslims should become suicide bombers and that such ideologies are spread through extremists.
Jumeira Mosque, Dubai

It was a privilege being able to see inside the mosque and to learn about a religion that is so misconstrued.

Information was provided by the volunteer on the left -- a woman from London, England who moved to Dubai 20 years ago, and volunteers at the Open Doors. Open Minds program.  She was explaining the various styles of clothing worn by men and women.

Outside the mosque - I had to remove my shoes, and wear a shawl

Our time in Dubai was drawing to a close so we stopped by the Carrefour grocery store and picked up a few items to sustain us when we returned to Mek'ele.  I will never take for granted the ability to buy good food, having experienced first hand what it is like to get by on the bare essentials.
Chicken soup, peanut butter, cheese, canned salmon and good chocolate -- pretty normal stuff for most of us, but not for the residents of Mek'ele.
We headed back to Mek'ele. The joy of eating again restored, and the resolve to change what wasn't working.

"Dreams nourish the soul just as food nourishes the body. The pleasure of the search and of adventure feeds our dreams."  Paulo Coelho

1 comment:

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