I was going to write a normal post but I felt it’s more appropriate to give tribute to a country that always bounces back.
This country I have been wanting to visit for such a long time and explore that part of my ancestry. However, there always something happening in this country that made me want to visit later. When the climate was more peaceful. I’m sure most of you all know by now what has happened in Lebanon. Two huge explosions hit the capital city. Everything in a 6-mile radius was hit by the boom of the second explosion. Right now, a confirmed 70 people have lost their lives. If you saw the videos, I’m sure the death toll will probably be near or above 1000. It is currently being under investigation to see if this was a terrorist attack or not. In my heart and gut feeling, I have a suspicion that this was a terrorist attack.
They said it was a fireworks factory that blew up. The first explosion I can see it possibly being caused by what the chemicals fireworks are made out of. However, the second explosion looked different.
Stand strong to a beautiful and small country that always bounced back. A small country that had such a big impact on the world. Through its history, diaspora, and culture.
Stay safe everybody and enjoy your loved ones. There were a lot of people who woke that day thinking it was going to be normal. Who are now not able to have another chance to wake up again.
With only a few hours left in this desert metropolis, I had one last thing to do. I didn’t visit the palm island yet. This is the place where all the six stars services were at. My final task on my to-do list was about to be crossed off.
Found a taxi and told him to take me to the man-made island. It took about 30 mins of going through tunnels to finally arrive to the Atlantis hotel. My local friend works here. Didn’t want to bother her while working. Plus, fancy things aren’t really my thing.
Right in front of the hotel, there is a beautiful view of the Persian golf. It’s crazy to think that Iran is on the other side of that body of water. Iran is like another universe compared to Dubai. I always found it strange, how countries so close to each other could be so different in economics and political views. For example, USA and Mexico. Two countries that share a broader, however, are so different. It’s almost mind blowing to think how a few thousands miles can really change how people think, live and look.
Eventually, I asked to be driven to the 6 star hotel. I didn’t want to go in, I just wanted to see from the outside. The restaurants inside aren’t that expensive. It’s about 80 dollars a meal and side orders. That’s about 20 dollars more in New York city. The funny about the hotel is that there is a water park right next door. Kind of implying water parks are somewhat a luxury here. Which, if you knew more about water parks. That water should be yellow. Bleach is such a magical substance.
In order to get to the hotel, you need to pass a security check point. You can’t get in without a reservation. I was thinking about going here for a restaurant. However, that is something I would regret spending money on. I always prefer authenticity over luxury. With that, ends my adventures in the 🇦🇪 UAE. Next stop would be more Christmas themed.
Thank you so much for reading! Hope you all are enjoying your weekend! Happy late Thanksgiving to the Americans!
As my time in Dubai was ending, I kept trying to find something to do. This is something that’s abnormal for me. I don’t really care about jewelery. Never interested me to show people what I have. So I never go to a jeweller. I got convinced to go visit the famous gold souk by my local friend.
My new friend photo courtesy of Hugo Morel
On my way there, I met this very smart cat. To get away from the heat, it slept inside the air-conditioned subway station. I just wanted to give it water. Life must be tough for a furry animal in the Middle Eastern heat. Had to say goodbye to my new friend. Sometimes, I wish I could adopt street cats. Especially, from forgien places.
Stepped out of the station and that wave of intense humidity hit me. I was sweating so much. It made me look like I just took a shower. Uncomfortably, I made it to the entrance of the souk.
Once inside the souk, you get blasted by the smell of spices. The noises of people trying to sell you their goods were in the air. The souk felt like a subway train going towards Manhattan. Everybody is trying to sell you something. Unwanted soliciting everywhere. It comes with the territory.
The further I walked, you notice the Indian influence. There were a lot of Indian celebrities images. Dubai does have a large Indian community. Didn’t expect to see Bollywood Stars posters here. Didn’t even know who that person was until showed my Indian friend this photo.
The jewellery shops were so beautiful. Being a proud window shopper here. I just came to the souk for sightseeing and not buying. Glad, I made the trip here. It made me wonder how this place used to be before Dubai became so international. I was a little disappointed, since the souk lacked that Middle Eastern authenticity you see on television. I was hoping people would be speaking more arabic and less English. I don’t really like complaining, I’m just pointing that out. Regardless, I still enjoyed my time.
With this city’s over the top strive to be the best. There is a lot of differences compared to Western public transportation. I could not roll my eyes even more after finding out they have the only five star subway station. Although, Dubai’s metro system seem to be the world’s best. There are rules one must follow, if you want a smooth time.
For starters, you don’t see people asking for money. That is something this country really tries hard not to have. The government pays the homeless to go back to their country. As harsh as that sounds, it’s better than just leaving them out to die in the rough desert environment. Especially, when summer comes around with the sand storms.
Another tip is to not eat in subway carts. Yes, that is illegal and could cause you a fine. Of course, I saw the sign while I was eating donuts. Luckily for me, there wasn’t any cops nearby. The fine is about 100 AED, which is about 30 us dollars.
Dubai’s metro is very clean. There is no litter on the subway carts. Dropping or forgetting something on a subway cart could lead you to a 200 AED fee. Which is about 70 USD. Keep that in mind because the more fines you get, the more unwated attention you attract to yourself. Which is never good in a foreign country. Also, Sleeping in waiting areas can result to fines as well. Same amount as of 200 AED. I wish they had these rules in New York City.
Another rule is carrying alcohol while on a public vehicle can result in charges or fees, if you are found out. If you are carrying beers or wine bottles in your bag, please make sure they do not make much noise. Remember this is a Muslim majority country after all. Being found with alcohol in non-approved areas can lead into some serious trouble. It all depends which type of cop you run into. I heard stories online of people being found with alcohol and being sent to jail. Which caused them to lose their flight.
Lastly there is a woman’s section on the subway trains. They are usually a lot nicer and less crowded. From what I saw, there are usually empty seats. Only women are allowed to go with the exception of little kids. Of course, Me being me. I ended up walking into and taking a seat in this section. Took me a minute to find out why it was so empty. Saw a lot of pink on the floor and the word women was written everywhere. Luckily, there was no police around. So, I did not get in trouble.
Hey everyone! This post is not to scare you. It’s just to keep you aware. I do suggest reading Dubai metro rules. Here is the link to keep you informed. Dubai is awesome and there is no reason as to why some culture differences should ruin your time here.
One of the most famous mosques in the world. Constantly shown to us as a luxury. The Grand mosque of Abu Dhabi is Marvel to see in person. It makes you realize how much this country loves their religion.
The taxi driver pointed out that I could take pictures from afar. I asked him just to make sure. Didn’t want any surprises. The whole me wearing shorts kept poking my mind. Asked the driver about my shorts and he said that it won’t be a problem. I just wouldn’t be able to go to where the Muslims were praying. Which was fine. Meanwhile, I was my crossing finger hoping he was right. Didn’t want to go this city for nothing.
Finally, got to the entrance. I was dropped off and my new friend left. We had an interesting conversation. He was from Iran and told me his opinion about the mosque. I was let known very well that it was beautiful; however, there are other mosques all over the Muslim world that are much prettier.
You have to pass a security point. Similar to airports with metal directors. It was cool to see that a few of the security guards had the traditional white arab robes. If you turn around passing the security check point, there is a line of taxi drivers waiting outside. At least, I knew there won’t be any problems going back to the bus station.
Once inside, you have to walk the long courtyard. The blazing sun hitting the white marble floor was making the environment warmer. The place felt like a house of royalty. Finally got to the point where you have to take off your shoes. Left my shoes with the guards and starting explore the small areas that were allowed.
The combinations of the white and gold were jaw dropping. In complete awe, I took in the moment. This mosque is a work of art. Completely different than the Iranian/Persian mosque, I visited the other day. Also, the ones I saw in Egypt were not at this level. This is mosque gave more of a sense of wealth. You can tell there was an abundance of money here. All the mosques I visited in Egypt, many were run down with little money. However, they have more soul to them.
The grand mosque is very beautiful; yet, this is not my kind of thing. Love their expression of appreciation towards their religion. Everything was perfect and on point. The Grand mosque reminded me of a sports car. Lovely to look at and to be in one. While, Egyptian mosques were more like a community church van to me. The ones that picked you up to make sure you went to Sunday masses. Enjoy both but prefer the van.
Learned from Muslim friends, each region of the Muslim world has their own unique style of mosque. The Persian and Egyptian styles, I have already shown on this blog. Hope to share how each region looks like to you all.
To escape the heat, I decided to go and see what the Dubai museum was about. Took the metro to get there. It was a little bit of a walk away from the nearest station. So much for escaping the heat.
When I got there, I was surprised to see the price of the tickets. It was about 3 USA dollars to go around. I’m not much of a museum person. However over my travels, I’m slowly becoming one. Plus my local friend kept telling me to come here.
The entrance to the museum is very interesting. It’s made like a 1500’s fort. The entrance of the museum truly made me felt that I was in the Arabian Peninsula. I never seen this type of structure before in person. The fort is made out of coral rock. In fact, besides the Spanish forts in Florida and California. I never seen an actually fort before. Especially, not one made out of coral! Also, the fort is believed to be the oldest building in Dubai still active. The fort is called Al Fahidi.
Once inside the museum, you get to see the old fashion homes. They are called Arish and are made out of palm fronds. The homes are actually very small. Only really containing a place to sit, a kitchen and a bedroom. It’s crazy to think that the emiratis once lived so humbly. The large amounts of money a country gains, can really change its people’s culture.
Got to see an armoury right past the entrance. I heard the armours and weapons were collected from all over the world. I could only imagine how hot it would had been wearing mental armour in the Middle East during summer. I would rather choose 2nd degree burns over cuts caused by swords and arrows any day.
Funny thing about the homes, you get to see the old fashioned “air conditioning.” They were called wind towers. It was a gap in the ceiling of the Arish, as seen in the picture below. It was brutal for me to even walk around in this structure. The heat was still slightly unbearable. I couldn’t picture living in a place with no artificially-made cold air. Where the average temperatures in the summer is about 106 degrees to 86 degrees. For those who live outside of the usa, 41.1 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Not to mention the 70 percent humidity.
The further I got into the museum, I found a door that lead me inside a walkway. That walkway would eventually take me to the main attraction of the museum. I was about to learn how Dubai was before the discovery of oil. Couldn’t wait to see what was in store me.
After exploring around the neighborhood near where my airbnb apartment was, I saw this beautiful building from a far. I started walking towards it and I found out it was an Iranian hospital. Little did I knew, I stumbled around a Persian neighborhood.
For those who don’t know, Persian and Iranian are similar. Iran was once a part of the Persian empire. That is something, I did not know at the time of me stumbling across this beautiful piece of art. Found out later while doing research. Walked towards this interestingly patterned building. From outside looking in, I figured out it was a mosque. I could tell by the shoe cubby and chants of the Qur’an.
Saw someone come out of the mosque. Asked if it was okay for me to enter. I got the clearance to explore. Once inside the gates to the entrance, I was in awe towards the attention to detail. The colors made the building look so majestic. The patterns and the designs are so beautiful. Couldn’t wait to see how the inside looks like. Put my shoes in the cubby and I was off.
The inside of the mosque was truly foreign and new to me. The colors matched the outside with a touch more of green. To make sure it was okay, I asked one of the mosque’s operators if I could take photos. He gave me permission of course.
I got to see some of the followers pray. Similar to how it was during my time in Cairo, the mosque was sectioned by gender. I was not allowed to go on the women’s side. Still, I enjoyed the part I was given access to.
Sometimes, it’s hard to picture how close United Arab Emirates is to Iran. It’s literally less than a two hour flight from Dubai. Makes sense why there’s a strong Persian community here. Glad I got to see in person.
As I was looking at the Muslims praying, I started to think a little to myself. The differences between this mosque and the mosque in Cairo. They both practice different types of Islam. Egypt is Sunni majority and Iran is Shia majority. They are similar and very different at the same time. Similar to Catholics and Protestants, the houses of worship look very different. It’s almost the same here. Expect, Sunni is the majority branch of Islam at about 87% to 90% of the Muslim population. While, Shia Islam is about 13% to 10%. Here is the link for those who want to more read about this.
Also, I remember something funny at this time. I was wearing the cross my family gave to me for my travels. This whole time I was exploring this mosque, you can clearly tell I was a christian or came from a Christian family. Yet, not one person gave me a second look nor hostility. To think how, I was once so scared about going to a Muslim majority country. I can only laugh at myself now. I grew so much as a person throughout my travels. With every new country, I was becoming a person. Someone with more understanding to others who are different than me. Truly believe, we can stop more wars from happening, if we just understood each other better. We all have similarities despite our differences. Hopefully, we get to see that in our lifetime.
After about an hour of looking around, I saw pretty much all of the mosque. That was my sign to walk back into the heat. Thought about staying until the sun went down. However, I didn’t want to take advantage of the friendly welcome I was given.
My whole childhood I wanted to do this. Today, I would be going to the top of the world’s tallest building. I was filled with so much excitement. My palms were sweaty and my body kept shaking. Had to conquer a big fear today.
Went to the entrance of The Burj khalifa at the Dubai Mall. There’s been a lot hype about this building. All my friends back home told me that I had to see the view from the top. You get to see the sun set twice. Too bad I forgot, I was scared of heights.
On the elevator up, they give you a history about Dubai and the making of this mountainous building. My ears popped several time. Didn’t even want to think how high we were. Just kept thinking about my ears. The pressure was strong. Eventually, my ears drums stopped hurting. Now I was hoping, I don’t end up with a nosebleed.
We got out of the elevator and into a viewer deck. The whole time, my hands were numb and my gut kept giving me that butterfly feeling. Taking that selfie was like walking on hot coals. For some reason, my mind kept picturing me falling off the edge. Even with all this protective glass, that fear of falling consumed me.
Fighting through my fears, I went closer to the edge. I wanted take a photo for you all to see. It was gut-numbing work. My fear of heights was difficult to overcome. Defeating it made this moment that much memorable. This was my childhood dream. Funny how I found out that Dubai is in the middle of constructing an even taller building.
After my trip to the top was done, had to go back to the ground level. Exited out into the Dubai mall. Saw a pizza hut and decided to chow down on some pizza. My eyes couldn’t roll harder. There was waiters at this pizza hut. Im sure, there was probably a five star rating somewhere. Just felt weird to be eating at a fast food place that gave me the five star treatment. Tend to forget, American brands sometimes have more value outside of the United States. Either way, I enjoyed my day. Couldn’t wait what tomorrow had in store.