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Showing posts from December, 2011

Postcards from Abu Dhabi and Dubai

There's pretty little touristy stuff to do in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Hardly any historical monuments or places of history are there, but there's a sampling of culture to be had, apart from loads of shopping and good dining. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are your typically splurge, fun and chill out holidays. 

Both the Emirates have Souks; exquisite bazaars or markets in a multi-storied building with long lanes, bylines and even courtyards and several shops lined up one after another. You get all things Arabia, arts and crafts, boutiques, clothes, jewelry and plenty of dining options, at prices somewhat higher than normal, but you can bargain at many shops. At the Madinat Jumeirah Souk in Dubai, be sure to visit the sand art stall and the hand painting stall. 

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi is one of the most beautiful structures in the world. It is the largest mosque of its kind in the UAE. This is what money can buy; the most beautiful carpets of the world with designs so intri…

Abu Dhabi desert safari

A trip to the UAE is incomplete without savoring the desert experience. And the best way to do this is the Desert Safari. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer desert safaris through numerous tour companies. Since I was based at Abu Dhabi, I stuck to an Abu Dhabi tour operator, called Abu Dhabi Desert Safari. Since I did not do advance booking, I called them up from Abu Dhabi and emailed them a request. They sent me my confirmation over email itself, after just a few minutes, and I was set. The desert safari is a four to six hour desert adventure and they take us far outside the city limits, deep into the desert. The pick-up was arranged at about 3 pm and the car was right on time. Another pick up and a detour from the main Abu Dhabi - Dubai expressway a few minutes later, we were zipping at 130 miles per hour in the middle of nowhere to get to our destination nestled far away in some God-forsaken place deep inside the desert. I was driven in a four-wheel (4W) drive, Toyota Land Cruiser.


Abu Dhabi and Dubai: First impressions

That a desert is barren and offers vast landscapes of nothingness is ironic. Because what the Sheikhs of the Middle East have made out of the United Arab Emirates is nothing short of a marvel. And it still appears work in progress; there's still a lot more coming, global economy health permitting. Ofcourse, the jewel in their crown still remains Dubai- the most advanced, modern and inviting of all the seven Emirates that together constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE)- but signs of development, progress and modern society can be seen beyond the borders of Dubai. Early in December 2011, I had the good fortune of paying a visit to Abu Dhabi, at my cousin Huffrish's home. Lovely destinations, they turned out to be.

We went via Dubai because getting an Abu Dhabi visa is painful. We were asked to fly only by Etihad- Abu Dhabi's national airline- to qualify for a visa, else we have to tell our hosts there to procure a Visa (after answering a dozen questions I am told) or I b…