“Pic of the Week”, June 29, 2018: Al Ain Hot Springs and Lake

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An oasis in any desert is viewed as a Godsend by people who live in such arid climates.  The oases at Al Ain are important to the United Arab Emirates as they contribute significantly to the fresh water supply of the region (still, over 90% of Dubai’s water comes from desalination).  Because of its sources of fresh water, the area has been inhabited for over 4,000 years.  

Al Ain is known as the “Garden City of the Gulf” due to its greenery.  It is home to extensive date palm groves which area irrigated by water from the oases. 

Al Ain is one of the only areas in this desert where you can find public places with grass and greenery.  People can enjoy …

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“Pic of the Week”, June 8, 2018: Burj Al Arabia

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In a country of spectacular modern buildings and architecture, the Burj Al Arab more than holds its own.  A beautiful white structure, it was built to resemble a dhow sailing into the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.  The Burj Al Arab was one of the first big constructions in modern Dubai and like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York, it has come to symbolize today’s Dubai.  

Some of the Particulars:
The Burj Al Arab is considered one of the world’s great luxury hotels and is the third tallest hotel in the world.  It’s built on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to it …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai / Food

A Visit to Dubai’s Spice Souk

13 Spice Souk

When you disembark from the abra (water taxi) that takes you across brackish Dubai Creek and begin strolling the streets of the older Deira neighborhood, you’ll soon enter the market district. A favorite stop here is the spice souk, which you’ll smell at a distance of several blocks before you even enter it. It’s a pleasant aroma, associated with beautiful and colorful displays. The spice souk adjoins the popular gold souk and, like it, is shaded by a high roof.

There are large piles of spices in front of the many shops in the souk, including cooking spices, frankincense, cinnamon, rose (and other flower) petals. You’ll find an assortment of dried fruit as well. One of the most popular spices sold …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

Signs of Dubai

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Dubai is surreal in many ways — an extravagant oasis in the desert that most logically shouldn’t be, at least were it were not for the influx of billions of dollars of petrodollars.  Opulent, overdone, but still fascinating.

As many of you know, I collect photos of signs.  The signage of Dubai proved an interesting hybrid.  While mostly targeting Emirati citizens, it also needs to appeal to the large population of expats living and working here and to the city’s extensive tourist traffic.  As such, many of the signs are both in Arabic and in English.  As it is a mostly newly built country, the signs are generally clean and modern, and many reflect a luxurious lifestyle.

Some of the signs were …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 23, 2018: Forrey and Galland Chocolatier, Dubai

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Like many people, I enjoy chocolate.  Especially goooood chocolate!  Not only is it delicious, when done right it’s beautiful.

An example of what I mean, I encountered this chocolatier while wandering around the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall.   The window displays were absolutely lovely — the chocolates were beautifully packaged and wonderfully displayed, as was an Easter-egg styled display of macaroons.  I picked up a few pieces which I enjoyed while exploring this vast Mall — an affordable luxury.

Forrey & Galland is a Parisian company, founded in 1912.  While the Parisian shops have disappeared, this shop in the Dubai Mall opened in 2008.  All chocolate is crafted right here by a staff of 50 artisans. 

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

The Dubai Marina

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Just like most of greater Dubai, by all rights the Dubai Marina should not exist.  As such, it seems surreal when you first see it.  Built in the desert along what was once a vacant 2 mile stretch of sandy beach, it’s now a towering artificial canal city with a beautiful jumble of skyscrapers juxtaposed against the water.  

The construction project was complex and involved years of dredging and building, the construction still continuing.  When the building phase is finally completed, it will be the largest marina in the world (currently that title belongs to Marina del Rey in California).   The city of Dubai Marina can accommodate over 120,000 residents, many of them expats who enjoy the warm climate and …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 24, 2017: Dubai’s Perfume Souk

00 Perfume Souk

Dubai has a number of market districts, including a perfume souk.  It’s located in the Deira neighborhood, not far from the gold and spice souks.  Arab perfumes are not the light flowery affairs you find in European shops — here the scents are spicy and quite strong, and tend to linger.  Arabian perfumes are oil based so they may leave a stain when sprayed on clothes, so be careful when using them. 

Of course perfumes from around the world are also sold in Dubai’s perfume souk and many shops will even custom craft a scent if you ask,  but the local fragrances are a specialty.  As are the decorative jars the perfumes can be stored in.   The perfumes are reasonably …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

A visit to the Al Fahidi Fort (the Dubai Museum)

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When you visit Dubai today you’ll see a landscape of shiny skyscrapers piercing the hazy desert air.  There’s a lot of history to the region, although little lingering evidence of man’s habituating it because until a few decades ago, this was the home of nomadic tribesmen.  In the mid-twentieth century the influx of petrodollars changed all that and fueled the construction boom leading to the city we see today.  If like me you like to study the history of a place, then a visit to the Dubai Museum is a must when visiting the U.A.E.

The Al Fahidi Fort, built of coral stone and mortar in 1787, is the oldest building in Dubai.  The Fort is situated on the south side of Dubai Creek in …

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