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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 …
The Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum (a.k.a. the Al Ain Palace Museum), is located in the oasis city of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. The museum is located in the home/family palace of former U.A.E. President, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004). The palace was built in 1937 and Sheikh Zayed lived here until 1966. As you would expect, local building materials were used including adobe, clay, stones and palm trees. It features rooms for the royal family, official meeting chambers, and quarters for visitors.
The palace was converted to a museum in 1998, opening to the public in 2001. The museum does a good job of creating an atmosphere as existed here when the Sheikh called it home.
Al Ain is …
Where does one go on a hot summer day in Dubai when the temperature is up around 40oC? It seems everyone goes to the mall!
Dubai has many beautiful (and wonderfully air-conditioned!) shopping malls, most filled with the kind of shops you find on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Among the first of these built was the Mall of the Emirates which has more than 560 shops selling most everything you could possibly need or want. There is a large theater complex, a massive food court and many restaurants scattered around the mall as well. There are two adjoining five-star hotels — Kempinski Mall of the Emirates and Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel — very convenient if you’re a …
I never expected to find a pretty and interesting family-oriented zoo in the middle of the desert, and was pleasantly surprised by my visit to this fine zoo in the city of Al Ain, about an hour inland from Dubai.
The Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals, 30% of its 180 species considered endangered. The zoo is spacious (990 acres) and like most modern zoos has enclosures designed to resemble the animal’s natural habitat. Special demonstrations are held at certain times and activities like a petting zoo, giraffe feeding and camel riding let people interact with some of the animals.
The zoo has a large African animal section and offers “safaris” to explore wildlife like lions, giraffes, zebras and …