Saturday, December 31, 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 intricate, you just can't take your eyes off them, with the largest- and probably the most expensive- chandeliers made of  24-carat gold which were imported from Germany and designed with thousands of Swarovski crystals, its hand-crafted tiles, its 80 domes decorated with marble, the list goes on. There are guided 1-hour tours, free of cost, that start at 10 am and 11 am (I'm not sure whether there are evening tours), on all days except Fridays, I think. It's worth your time joining one of these tours and getting to know the Mosque's history and what went into making it. The Mosque is covered by ponds that, coupled with the place's beauty, lends to its serenity.

Emirates Palace Hotel is another place you must visit. It's a palace converdhated into a luxury hotel. Prior reservation at one of their restaurants or coffee shops is  required to gain entry, but at times there are exhibitions going on in there and you could visit one of them and then take a tour of the hotel on your own. It has its own exclusive beach that is open to only its house guests. But the lobby is beautiful, the steps that lead you onto the ground floor are grand- it has paintings of the Hotel on both the walls; one depicting the hotel in day time and the other in the night time- the hotel personifies luxury. 

 But apart from the above, few shopping malls and a beautiful Corniche (sea-side coastal road with pavements that permit cycling, gazebos where you can sit, lunch, and be merry with your family, friends and loved ones, beachside cafes), there's nothing else to do in Abu Dhabi. Dubai offers more entertainment, though. Of the eight days we were there, we ended going to Dubai four times. A man-made gigantic ski resort inside a mall, the Atlantis Hotel at the Palm Jumeirah where you must have a meal, and the Global Village are some other places we went to. We didn't spend much time in their massive malls, but my cousin tells me that it takes about 5 days each on an average to see the two largest malls in Dubai, The Dubai Mall and The Mall of the Emirates.

1 comment:

  1. Emirates Palace Hotel is another place you must visit. It's a palace converdhated into a luxury hotel.

    Bloom Gardens Abu Dhabi


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