A Travellerspoint blog

United Arab Emirates

See ya UAE

Yesterday was my last day in the UAE. In Abu Dhabi-I took a walk along the Corniche-a giant walkway along the waterfront-for two hours in the morning. And then I called a taxi for the bus station. The bus ride would be about 2 hours to the Dubai airport. (where I could find the cheapest flight to Muscat, Oman). By the time I got here-I had 7 hours to kill. Which is good, i was able to book a flight to Egypt out of Oman, because I want to go there, and I saw that to gain entrance to Oman, I needed to show a return flight or continuing travel. I wanted to print out this proof-and started to panic because I couldn't find an internet cafe to print it out. An airport representative directed me to a suite of airline offices on the second floor. The only office that was occupied was someone who worked with Saudia airlines, and they helped me out.

Dubai is like no city I have ever seen before. Although there are no flying cars, the city looks like it is either (A) From the Jetsons, or (B) From Sim City, developed by some computer nerd playing all day in his basement.
There are futuristic buildings upon futuristic buildings. Many buildings seem like they just sprout out of the middle of the desert. A Metro system which is the longest driverless system in the world. Gigantic malls (one with a gigantic ice skating rink, another with a ski slope), with more American chains then there are in America. In addition to the usual Mcdonalds, Burger Kings, KFC's Wendys and Starbucks, I also found Hardees, Popeyes, Sbarros, Dennys, California Pizza Kitchen, Chillis, Tgi Fridays, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse, etc, etc. Ditto for stores, Of course there was The Gap-but also Bath and Body Works, Tiffanys, Bloomingdales, Modells Sporting Goods, etc.
The skys we're gray the first two days I was here, -which was disturbing because I pictured the desert being comprised of endless summer days-the remaining 12 days, however-we're exactly like that. Not a single cloud anywhere-just hot, unrelenting sun. It even started to get tiring there was so much sun.
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Abu Dhabi isn't quite as futuristic as Dubai-it looks more like a New York or other city. The tallest building here is only 99 stories tall. It did feature the largest indoor theme park in the world-called Ferrari World. Everything here is the largest, tallest, biggest and newest.

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All of the service workers (At least all I met) we're from either the Philipines, Pakistan, and other African nations. That includes the tour guides, bus dirvers,taxi drivers, etc. It's hard to find many natives. What is surprising is that despite all of the new construction (in Dubai, for example, supposidly a new largest mall in the world is being built, and a new tallest building in the world-although they already have both), there is a lot of unemployment. When I bought dinner last night in the food court of a mall-someone dropped off their resume. He was a grown man, and I could see his resume had his picture on it. I asked the manager, and he mentioned there there was a lot of unemployment over the past few years, and even for cashiers-there are so many people availalble who have cashier experience there is no need to hire someone without experience.

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Because it's difficult to meet someone who was actually born and raised in the UAE (someone who will talk to me anyway)-it is hard to get a sense of the place.

Right now, I am waiting for the plane to Muscat, Oman. I am in the Dubai airport-supposidly one of the most modern airports in the world. I got here 7 hours early from Abu Dhabi-and i found two things

(1) I couldn't check into my flight until 3 hours before, and there are very few places to eat and drink outside security. I spent a lot of that time at a Starbucks, which was one of the few places outside.
(2) There are digital signs trumpeting the fact that the airport has the best Wifi in the world. Despite the fact I am writing this offline because the wifi is too weak.

Posted by DavidPearlman 10:14 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Full day in Abu Dhabi-and the Non-strip Strippers

Yesterday was a full day in Abu Dhabi, and it wasn't that exciting. I walked 5 blocks to the Abu Dhabi mall to catch the hop-on hop-off bus. I stayed on the bus for approximately 45 minutes, and got off at the Sheikh Zayed Museum. The Museum wasn't that interesting. It showed the cars he drove, which include a Land Rover, a Mercedes, and a BMW. There we're timelines of the history of the country, with the founding of oil, etc.

I was in the museum for about 20 minutes, and again got on the hop-on hop-off bus. I wanted to see Yas Island, which seemed like a nice island with amusement parks, hotels, etc.

After staying on the bus for approximately 1/2 an hour to 40 minutes, I got off again at the huge Sheikh Zayed Mosque to transfer for the bus to Yas Island. I found out the bus wouldn't arrive for another hour. So i went back to the Mosque, put long pants over my shorts-so I can go to the restaurant. (I was hungry and it was lunchtime). I had a salmon wrap-walked around a little bit-and finally the Yas Island bus came.

The bus ride seemed like it was about 45 minutes to a more remote part of the city-and Yas Island wasn't as exciting as I thought. There was Ferrari world-the world's largest indoor theme park-but admission was $60 and I wasn't going to pay the much for about an hour and a half-so I didn't see it. There was a huge waterpark, and 5 hotels in a circle. There was also the first WB theme park in the mideast which was closed. I ended up just staying on the bus-and transferring again to the bus downtown at the Mosque. Finally, there was a large race track used for Forumula One racing that runs under a hotel.

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I got off at a mall downtown for dinner-it was that time. And walked back to the hotel-which took about 45 minutes. When I got back to the hotel-which was about 9:00-I feel asleep. I was tired after sitting on the top deck of hop-on hop-off buses in the hot sun. (Doing nothing is tiring).

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About 1:00 am, I woke up. I could hear the music blaring from downstairs-(all the way from the 9th floor). I put on clothes and went into a smokey lounge. There were roughly 9 Indian ladies on stage, dancing in pairs of about 2-3 at a time. They didn't look happy. In the audience we're roughly 15 Indian Men. I wasn't sure what was happening. i thought it was karaoke but nobody was singing. They we're just dancing. I enjoyed a beer a chips with a few of the guys, then walked across the hall to another lounge where an Indian Band was playing. I then walked down the stairs to yet another lounge, and once again a group of Indian woman we're on the stage dancing in pairs, and men we're sitting watching them. At first, i accidentally thought i walked into the same lounge but remembered I walked down a flight of stairs. Here the host urged me to sit in the first row. I watched the ladies dance on stage. The host gave me cards to give to the ladies. I didn't know what the cards meant. Only after 20-30 minutes, did I realize the cards we're equivalent to slipping $ bills in a strip card. When i cashed out-I paid for the beer, which was roughly $7, and was handed a bill for about $150 for cards given the ladies. I explained that i had no ideas what was going on. I had white skin, everyone else had brown skin-how would I know. I negotiated with him for about $90 and walked out.

Posted by DavidPearlman 21:13 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

on to Abu Dhabi-Mosque and Ladies of the night

Yesterday I checked out of the second hostel in Dubai. This hostel wasn't as nice. The beds we're quite small, and there was a shelf on top of the bed for cell phones, books, etc. While it was quite handy, I kept hitting my head on the shelf. The common area was pretty small as well, and it got crowded, especially during breakfast time. Even so, it was nice talking to the others in the hostel. Two girls we're from Germany traveling. One guy from Vancouver was from Singapore, Hong Kong, and other places, and was headed back home. One big fella from Maldova was telling me all about his travels. He had a giant plate of biscuits and peanut butter and another plate of oranges. As he was talking peanut butter was all over his mouth. The usual music videos we're playing on tv (or in the other hostel-blasted via computer)-anything by Ed Sheeran, the video from Fifty Shades Freed called Looking a lifetime for ya or something like that, and Demi Lovato not wanted to fight any more (who does?)

I went with the two German girls on the metro to get the bus to Abu Dhabi. We found the bus station easily, and rode the bus, which was comfortable. The ride wasn't too long-only about 2 hours or so. As a matter of fact, many go to Abu Dhabi for the day while staying in Dubai, but it seemed like there was a lot to see there so I decided to stay 2 night in Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi I decided to stay in a hotel-mainly because no hostels we're listed there.

The taxi driver took me to the hotel, which looks like it was nice at one point-but not really anymore. A man in a suit checked me in, and a porter actually took my luggage up to my room. I don't like to be waited on hand and food-I prefer hostels, where the girl/guy at the check in desk has torn up jeans, a tee shirt, and tattoos. But the hotel was only maybe $50 per night-so wasn't too expensive.

The room had old furniture but was fairly clean. I walked around, went back to the lobby, and bought a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus. I was told to cross the road, and pick up the bus on the Corniche, which is by the Sheraton. The Corniche is a large waterfront promenade, that runs for miles. I walked for what it seems for miles to pick up the bus, in 100 degree heat (yes, it was that hot-according to the thermometer in the bus). I kep't walking, but couldn't find the bus stop. Finally, after a while, the map which I had appeared to show another shop by a tall building which was called the World Trade Center. i walked up about 8 blocks, found the World Trade Center, and found the bus stop.

I got on the bus, and rode it for an hour and a half, past the Marina Mall, public beach, a glitzy Fairmont hotel which looked like Atlantis in Dubai, and the Palace for the ruler of the UAE. By this time it was about 5:00 pm-I was planning to just take the bus around but just go back to the hotel to relax, but then the bus came to a high point with many domes and minarets. It was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which was simply breathtaking. This was the third largest Mosque in the world, and the largest outside of Saudi Arabia-so while I was planning to see the Mosque the next day, I decided to get off and see the Mosque.

I walked around to the entrance. I put on some long pants provided by the Mosque-since shorts weren't permitted, and dropped off my shoes. I like walking around barefoot so this was nice. I walked miles and miles it seemed-through an ornate promenade, and looked at the giant prayer hall. At 7:00 pm, I actually took a tour of the Mosque-and I learned that Sheikh Zayed-who planned the Mosque, was buried right next to it. He died in 2004-3 years before the Mosque was completed.

I also learned that the carpet was the largest in the world, that one of the chandeliers was the largest in the world as well. It was made of glass from Germany.

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After the tour-I had an issue. It was 9:00 pm-approximately 2 hours after the hop-on hop-off bus stopped running-so I decided to take a public bus back to the hotel. I ran up and down the street looking for the pubic bus stop. The guard to the Mosque tried to tell me-but I couldn't understand. After a while, I just took a cab. By the hotel, I found a cheap Filipino place for dinner. I went up to my room to go to bed, and there was an attractive black haired-woman with a Russian Accent there in the tiny elevator with me. She asked in her heavy accent if I just checked in. I said I checked in that day-she then said she was there for just an hour to see a customer. She said she would see me to if I liked. I decided not.

Posted by DavidPearlman 20:09 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

At The Top Hostel-Ballin on a Budget

hostlnight.jpgFor my first 7 days in Dubai-I stayed at a Hostel called At The Top. It is on the 66th floor of an 83rd floor building. (an 83 floor building in Dubai might be tall for some places, but is nothing special here. Around the corner is the tallest block, where 7 of the 10 tallest apartment buildings in the world are, including at least one over 100 stories tall).

This is ballin on a budget. For $32.00 per night (sort of the high end for hostels), I got to walk into a building with a guard, tv's in the high-speed elevators, and important looking people leaving and entering the building.

The hostel itself as a nice breakfast, large common areas, and killer views of the Arabian golf with Atlantis on Palm Island (largest man-made island in the world). and builldings all around. IT was a 5 minute walk to the Dubai Marina with stores and restaurants lining the shoreline. The tram which ran to the metro downtown stopped in front of the building. Even the people who stayed there we're different then many who stay in hostels-there we're married couples, people in Dubai for business, and even a lady with a baby. After a week-I was kicked out (they we're booked), and I had to go to another hostel, which was more typical.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 21:02 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Last Dubai

Yesterday was the last full day in Dubai. When I travel for the long term, I like to leave one day to one which I go back to places I may have been before, just so I don't skip anything. I don't know how much longer I will be around-and there is no reason to think I will be back in Dubai, or anywhere else.

So yesterday, I stayed in the common room at the hostel for a while making flight/travel reservations. Then at approximately 11:00 am, I went back to the old souk near the museum, and walked around. I took a short boat ride across the river to the gold and spice souks, just to take pictures. I walked around, and found a photo shop to have some passport photos taken.

Then I took the metro to a park to go to what looks like a giant picture frame. I learned later it is actually a 48 story structure called the Dubai Frame, which I wanted to go to since i saw in driving in. It changes color at night. I walked through the park to this huge frame, only to learn that I was in the wrong park. In the first park, though I walked through different markets, and saw people sunning themselves, and walked through a "Happiness market" selling clothes, books, and other goods.

I then came to the adjacent park where the frame was-I waited in line for what seems like 2 hours-and finally arrived at the ticket booth-it was approximately $8 to go in the Frame. (I learned the Frame was only open since January 1st-so it is still new). Walking inside, I came to a display which showed the history of Dubai, such as the discovery by the Bedouins up until the airport being expanded. Then I took the elevator to the top (along with the crowds), we we're allowed 15 minutes to look around. I did see the sunset along the Arabian golf, and a pic of downtown. After 15 (or so)-I went down and walked back to the metro. i found a restaurant that actually had a mosque built in, that served Yemen food. While I usually don't eat meat-I had mutton with rice-which was good, and they kept pouring more soup for me. It was around $20.00, which is on the higher end that i spend..

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Posted by DavidPearlman 20:40 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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