Expat Travels: UAE

Friday, September 08, 2017

Happy Eid!

We got a week off in observance of the Eid al Adha holiday here. Initially, I was set on staying home and binge watching new shows but, wanderlust.

Even though the UAE is legit next door, getting there during the blockade was a bit tricky.

I booked a roundtrip (rt) ticket to Muscat, Oman, then booked another rt ticket from Muscat to Dubai. I had no issues entering Dubai even though I have a Qatari residence permit. The cost for direct airfare from Doha to Dubai is usually around $100rt and takes under an hour; we're not gonna discuss what I spent on flights and how long it took to get there. Let's just say certain cities and airlines are making bank on this unfortunate situation. Sad that I had to be caught up in it but I got to check off an item that's been high on my must-see list either way.

I was based in Dubai for this trip, but my first stop was to Abu Dhabi. I've been dying to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for years! It's a popular site that's often featured on travel themed social media pages but it's different seeing it in person.

Stunning from every angle

Women are required to cover from head to ankle.
Men can do whatever they want.

The grounds are soooo stunning!

The interior is beautiful, too!

I felt BEAUTIFUL in the hijab!

Though the sun seemed to be scathing hotter than usual this day, I didn't let it deter me from getting a few pics (sun almost won out, though). The blazing sun was damn near blinding, and made getting pics at certain angles very difficult. No worries, though. I fully intend to see this beautiful, holy structure again.

In addition to the Grand Mosque, we saw other popular sites around Abu Dhabi before heading back to Dubai:

Good for kids and car enthusiasts

The Heritage Village showed us how the Emirati lived before the skyscrapers came

Traditional dress

Lunch spread, we had a variety of fares including Emirati cuisine

Abu Dhabi skyline

I often hear people say that there isn't much to do in Dubai other than shop and turn up, I didn't find that to be the case. As a solo traveler, I make sure to keep busy with activities while I'm visiting a place. Viator had over 300+ excursions available for Dubai; plenty to do.

The highlight of my trip was the desert safari, certainly a must-do for a trip to this region.

Cali reppin in the desert. The scarf wasn't required but kept me cool.

Video highlights on my Instagram do the trip slightly more justice :)
Orient Tours took good care of us solo folk!

Sand boarding fail, didn't even make it halfway down!

The red sand dunes...and the demise of a camel.

Arabian nights
Video of sand duning and traditional dances on my IG

One thing that I wasn't exactly prepared for with the safari was the "dune bashing". I have video of the experience on my Instagram page and in Instastories. Listen, it's not for the faint of heart, and honestly if I'd seen it before going I probably would have chickened out. If you're prone to getting car sick, you may want to skip this activity.

I did a tour around Old Dubai, where you can see the little bit of culture that's left in the cosmopolitan city.

Dubai Creek in the old city
Boats and camels used to be the main method of transport
They could use it again with all the smog in the city :(

Fort in Old Dubai

Dubai's largest mosque is effortlessly beautiful 

Old culture
Dubai Museum

Old culture
Dubai Museum
They enhance the experience with sandy flooring

Dates (seen on the tree) are a large part of Dubai cuisine
Dubai Museum

Spices at the Souk in Old Dubai

Where Dubai's underclass reside...
...a side of Dubai not often seen in mass media but very prevalent.

I don't have children and I'm usually averse to cold weather, but I was fascinated by Ski Dubai and the concept of the Chillout Lounge. These are great activities for groups and families.

Photo: Chillout Lounge Dubai
Ski Dubai (as seen from my table in Cheesecake Factory at Mall of the Emirates)
Lots of families were there together.

I had intended on having a lazy day since this is technically time off, but I took notice of Dubai's Marina tours and had to indulge. It's a slow-moving tour for the most part, and the boats are uncovered. Clouds are rare this time of year, so you need a good hat and loads of sunblock to withstand the trip. I don't think I could have tolerated more than the allotted 90 minutes on an uncovered boat. The day was hazy but the sites were fantastic nonetheless.

UAE's architecture is really something.

"Float, float onnnn"

Burj Al Arab


Atlantis in the background: $35k per night.
Sail on by, shawty.

I stayed near the World Trade center area and I got a good price at the ibis hotel. I was about 10 minutes away from the massive and invigorating Dubai Mall, and the magnificent Burj Khalifa.

The tallest structure in the world.
They do tours to the top, the outside is just as nice.

The area outside of Burj Khalifa and the fountains is quite lively...
...this is just a lucky shot.

Transportation is cheap and plentiful in Dubai; there is also a metro system.. I used Careem and taxis to get to and fro', the taxis don't gouge and were very professional.

Riding in the Ladies taxi from the airport
Lots of transportation options

My trip to Dubai was eventful despite paying 6x what I would normally have to in order to get there. I try not to put a price on experiences, and the fact that we don't get another break until December was motivation enough for me to go ahead and do it. I didn't get to do and see all that I wanted and I didn't even partake in any turn up, so rest assured that you won't be bored here. I look forward to returning.

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