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Just outside one of the more interesting neighborhoods in Dubai, the Al Fahidi Historic District, sits a small picturesque cafe — the Arabian Tea House Cafe. I’d been on my feet for more than three hours and the heat of the day was ramping up, so I thought I’d take a break to rest and get a snack.
The cafe was situated in a shaded courtyard (shade provided by both trees and canopies) with comfortable tables. Some sofas for waiting were placed outside and inside the restaurant, so it must get busy at times, although that late morning it was not. Fans moved air around and it was quite pleasant, despite the ambient heat. The clientele was a mixture of locals …
On my last day in Dubai I thought I’d connect with a few world records. I visited the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building and with the world’s highest observation deck, and the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall (by total area). These two structures adjoin each other, so it’s quite easy to see both in one day. I’ll soon publish a separate post on the Burj Khalifi, but today I’d like to focus on some of the sights and activities of the Dubai Mall.
Generally speaking, I’m not much of shopper and definitely not a Mall guy, but the Dubai Mall was an interesting and pleasant place to visit, especially as the outside temperature soared to 40oC (105oF), and …
The Al Fahidi Historic District is one of the few surviving older neighborhoods within Dubai. It’s quite a charming area which has been refurbished and modernized, and contains a variety of shops, cafes and some small museums.
One of the museums is dedicated to coffee. It’s a small privately owned museum that displays the owner’s private collection, including historic items related to coffee making and drinking, such as old coffee grinders, pots, roasters and other coffee-related memorabilia. Some of the items reflect the history of coffee consumption around the world. There’s a small library with books based on coffee dating back as far as the 18th century. And there are some Emirati-style majlis (sitting rooms) also on display.
Coffee is an integral …
As one might expect in a Kingdom with fairly tight control of its society, Dubai does not have much in the way of street art. The one exception to this, at least that I encountered during my visit, was in the Al Fahidi Historical District.
The district is one of the older surviving neighborhoods in Dubai and was home to merchants and traders, many from Iran. Their homes have been restored and have converted into offices, cafés, art galleries and small shops. Interspersed was some art, mostly murals quite nicely done. But there were other interesting sights like some sculpture, a small garden growing in recycled soda bottles — even some antiques outside a café.
A pleasant and safe neighborhood in which to …
Jebel Hafeet is a mountain near the desert city of Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates. It’s an impressive peak, rising 1,249 m (4,098 ft), and is easily accessible. While many credit Jebel Hafeet as being the tallest mountain in the UAE, that honor belongs to Jabal Jais at 1,925 m (6,316 ft). The mountain straddles the border of Oman, and views of that country are easily seen from the summit (although some what hazy because of blowing dust).
Jebel Hafeet has an extensive natural cave system which has only partially been explored to a depth of about 150 m. The caves show nicely preserved stalagmites and stalactites, but they are not open to the public. Marine fossils (plankton, coral, crabs) are found within the …
One of the most impressive works of public art I’ve ever seen was in the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall. Located close to the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifi) and with views of it, are two cylindrical waterfalls that extend the full four story height (24 m) of the Mall structure.
All that flowing water seems out of place in the desert, but the sight and sound of it is beautiful and mesmerizing. To enhance the waterfalls are dozens of fiberglass figures giving the illusion of synchronized divers. This art work can be viewed from each level of the mall, and the perspective changes so take the escalator up all the floors and take it all in.
The fountains are …
Dubai Creek is the main geographic landmark of Dubai. The Creek, 14 km long, divides Dubai into its two original neighborhoods – Deira Dubai and Bur Dubai. The Creek has played a major role in the history and economic development achieved by Dubai beginning in the days when desert nomads first settled on its banks in the 19th century. Dubai Creek has been a center for the traditional pearl trade and now for international shipping and trade. The Creek was dredged and widened decades to ago to allow larger ships ease of entry.
Abras on Dubai Creek…
Situated in the Bur Dubai, adjoining Dubai Creek, is the Textile Souk. This is a pretty market district located within a restored traditional bazaar, its buildings and walkways shaded by a wooden roof (the shade providing welcome relief from the almost unbearable desert heat). There is a main central lane to the market, with side alleys leading to smaller shops.
Most of the shops are now operated by Indian (rather than Arab) traders and the merchandise sold varies from the colorful bolts of cloth (cotton, silk, some embroidered), dresses, blankets, slippers, and assorted Dubai souvenir items. Bartering is expected and often lively. Many of the shops have tailors who can sew you a dress or shirt and have it ready before you depart …