Day 10 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
|Monday, November 24, 2014: We woke up to a sunny day in Dubai and were delighted to see the view from our suite.
|There's the Burj al Arab looking grand through the morning haze.
|We went to the Executive Lounge ...
|... and enjoyed a tasty breakfast buffet with cooked-to-order omelettes.
|Here's the view from the Executive Lounge.
|At 9:00 AM, we met our tour guide for the day, Ute. We had booked her through Tours By Locals for a full day tour of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
|We set out immediately for Abu Dhabi, passing the Dubai marina.
|Get ready, folks -- Legoland is coming to the Middle East! Although we've visited some of the Legoland locations, we do not feel compelled to visit them all, fortunately.
|On Sheikh Zayed Road is this sign of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, first President of the United Arab Emirates.
|This is the Al Samha Mosque.
|Our first destination was Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, ...
|... home of the Yas Marina Circuit where the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had been held the day before.
|We stopped at the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel and got out to take a quick look.
|The sculpture in the outdoor lounge area makes it clear what the major attraction is.
|Racing! Here's a portion of the track, ...
|... and here's the part that goes right through the hotel.
|Next, we stopped at Ferrari World, a large amusement park under a large red cover.
|We didn't actually go in, but the entrance leading up to it, ...
|... and the gift shop and Ferrari exhibits were worth the stop.
|A shiny new mall had recently opened right across the street.
|Here's what stop signs look like in the United Arab Emirates.
|And here's what IKEA looks like ...
|... and Ace Hardware.
|This sculpture looks like birds in flight when viewed from the right angles.
|Here's a glimpse of Yas Waterworld.
|This very cool building is the Aldar headquarters, completed in 2010.
|School buses in the UAE are a little more upscale than we're used to.
|The Sheikh Zayed Bridge, 842 meters long, is said to be the most intricate bridge ever built. Its profile looks like sand dunes.
|Here's a desalinization plant, which is an essential part of life on an ocean with few sources of fresh water.
|Our true reason for visiting Abu Dhabi was right here: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We parked the car in the underground parking lot then Debbie and Ute put on head scarves.
|Ute pointed out photography angles that would make for great photos like this one.
This panorama doesn't do the mosque justice, but it tries.
|For visitors who do not come wearing appropriate attire, clothing is available for both men and women to borrow. Here are some of the borrowed abayas.
|Debbie got this artsy photo of the mosque's main dome, ...
|... and Tom got this photo of Debbie at the same time.
|Next, we prepared for entering the prayer hall (qubba) by removing our shoes.
Here's the entrance to the prayer hall.
|The walls were covered with floral vines carved in colored marble.
|The ceiling was ornately carved and decorated.
|On one wall, the prayer clock showed sunrise, sunset, and other prayer times.
|Working clockwise, here are the meanings. Fajr: dawn. Shoroq: when the sun first appears over the horizon. Dhuhr: just after sun reaches its highest point. Asr: afternoon prayer, when your shadow is twice as long as it was at noon. Maghrib: soon after sunset. Isha: when there is no longer any scattered light in the sky.
|The times vary with sunrise and sunset.
|Inside the prayer hall was an absolutely stunning and ornate chandelier.
|Here's the main hall. The carpeting was trimmed to leave slight ridges on it to mark rows on which to kneel for prayer time.
|This is the Qibla wall, decorated with the 99 names of Allah. Natural light falls behind the wall and shines through some of the stone.
|Here's some additional detail on some of the walls.
|Ute took this photo of us on the steps leading up to the mosque.
|Debbie and Ute then headed to the women's restroom. Only women are allowed down the escalatar to this section of the mosque which also contains the women's ablution area (wudu) where women can wash before prayer time.
|Here is the entrance to the rest room, which is hidden behind this wall.
|This is a water fountain.
|We headed back to the parking lot, ...
|... and as we drove away, we glimpsed the area where Sheikh Zayed is laid to rest.
|It was an hour drive back to Dubai. Here is the Jumeirah Lake Towers Free Zone.
|Next, we visited Palm Jumeirah Island, the famous man-made, palm-shaped island. This is the trunk of the palm, with highrises on either side of the wide boulevard ...
|... like this one ...
|... and this one.
|This is just one of many Lamborghinis we saw on the streets of Dubai.
|Up ahead was our first glance of Atlantis, the Palm.
|We got into the area of the palm-shaped island where residential streets branched off on either side like fronds on a palm tree.
|This is the Abdul Rahman Siddik Mosque.
|A quick underwater tunnel trip took us to the outer edge of the palm where Atlantis, the Palm is located. We stopped here for a few minutes to take photos. We sent one to our friend Drew, who was in the Bahamas at the other Palm resort the very same week.
|Here's the barrier wall. It takes a lot of rocks to make up a fake island this large.
|There was a bike rental on the promenade for those who like to do a little exercising in the desert heat. At this time of year, it was in the upper 70s and lower 80s, so it was quite pleasant.
|Returning back to the mainland, you can see the tram system that runs the length of the island.
|Off to the right is the Dubai Marina, where we were heading next.
Here it is, brought to you by Tom's phone.
|This not-quite-finished twisting building is Cayan Tower, a building so striking we took no fewer than eleventy billion photos of it during our stay (approximately).
|Next, we spent some time at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a popular tourist complex consisting of shops and restaurants.
|It was designed to resemble a traditional souk.
|The wind towers are just for show now, but before air conditioning came along, they helped harness the wind to cool off the building below.
|The Madinat Jumeirah Resort is also part of the same complex. It features waterways and boats to shuttle visitors from one location to another.
|We got a fantastic view of the beautiful Burj al Arab.
|And of course, Orchy was there too.
|We had lunch at the Belgian Beer Cafe, opting to take advantage of the pleasant temperatures and dine outside.
|We ordered the appetizer combo and mini burgers, washing it down with a Kriek lambic beer and a Leffe blond beer.
|Here's one of the cars available for rental at the souk.
|Next, we were off to see more of Dubai. We passed the Burj al Arab again, ...
|... then the Jumeirah Beach Resort.
|Here's a beautiful fence along the road.
|This is Rashid Al Hadees Mosque 1.
|The bus stops are air-conditioned, of course.
|These are some homes that were built in the 60s for American families of oil workers, and the architecture reflected that.
|Here's the main attraction of the Dubai skyline -- the Burj Khalifa. We'll be seeing much more of it, so have patience.
|Debbie was quite taken with the building that looked like a fountain pen on the right in this photo.
|Here's another view of some cool Dubai buildings.
|At the end of our very full day of touring, we returned to the hotel and headed back to the Executive Lounge for afternoon tea and some ice cold Coca-Cola Lights.
|Then we headed down to the hotel lobby (shown here) and out to the attached Mall of the Emirates, home of ...
|... Ski Dubai!
|It's in a building so large that it contains a ski lift and the only indoor black diamond ski run. A two-story wall of glass allows mall visitors to look in and see many of the fun options, including a children's play area, tube slides, and resident penguins.
|Our hotel offered ski lodge rooms that overlooked it all. Debbie had injured her back sometime during all of the 4x4 touring we had done recently, so the idea of climbing into winter clothes and bouncing down a hill didn't appeal to her. Plus, we've experienced enough indoor frozen activities in our travels. This turned out to be the only planned activity of our trip that we ended up not doing.
|We explored the mall to see what was there.
|It looked like any other mall except that it featured many people in traditional Arab dress.
|Many of the stores had both English and Arabic logos, with the Arabic font closely matching the English font, like the Gap logo shown here.
|We found one of the food courts and we wished that we had the stomach space to try a few things.
|We got a photo of the McDonald's from afar.
|While we were there, we heard the evening call to prayer. Signs in the mall gave a visual reminder as well.
|OK, this was completely unexpected.
Here's the view from our living room after sunset.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy