Wordless Wednesday: Hot in the desert

Camels and Sand during a Desert Safari in the UAE
Feeling all alone in this huge desert!

Friday facts: Dubai Gold Souk

Did you know that in Dubai, jewellery is sold on gold price and jewellers levy a making charge on the buyer depending on the piece of jewellery?

Dubai is famous for its gold souk, which has over 250 gold shops and is also the Middle East hub for the supply of jewellery. It is estimated that one in every five people buys at least five gold items annually. 95% of all gold jewellery sold here is above 21 karat and the rest is 18 karat gold. For the 1999 Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai made the longest 22 karat gold chain, which measured 4.2 kilometers and was sold to 9,600 assorted buyers who bought it in necklace wear and bracelet size pieces.

Friday Facts: Random Mosques UAE

Random Mosques UAE
Random Mosques UAE

Did you know that in Dubai it is quite common to see a mosque every few kilometers. Muslims pray five times a day and on Friday and many of these mosques have been designed to cater to up to a 1000 devotees. No matter where you are in Dubai, including in shopping malls, you will hear the call to prayer five times a day reminding Muslims that it is time to pray.

Random Mosques UAE

Here are some tips i you visit a mosque as a tourist

  • Remove Your sunglasses, hats and Shoes before you actually enter a mosque.
  • Be Respectful: Avoid making loud noises or engaging in unnecessary conversation inside of mosques. Turn off mobile phones, don’t chew gum, and do not bring food or drinks inside of a mosque.
  • Do Not Point Feet: While sitting, avoid pointing your feet in the direction of the Qibla – the primary wall inside the mosque indicating the direction of Mecca.
  • Dress Appropriately which is modestly. Men and women should both cover as much skin as possible; women are required to cover their heads.

Wordless Wednesday: Pearl divers in Dubai Mall

There was a time when pearling was one of Emirates major source of income. Now – a piece of architecture in modern Emirates is devoted to this romantic and dangerous profession.

This indoor waterfall is 30 meters in diameter and 24 meters hight with water streaming through all four levels of the building.

Friday Facts: Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Did you know the Burj Al Arab is “The World’s Only 7 Star Hoteland that it was constructed to resemble the sail of the Dhow?

It took less than 3 years to construct this building which has become an iconic landmark reflects the city of Dubai.

Burj Al Arab is one of the most expensive hotels to stay in. The Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m from Jumeirah beech and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge.

Wordless Wednesday: Bin Hamoodah Mosque in Al Ain, UAE

Bin Hamoodah Mosque in Al Ain, UAE
Bin Hamoodah Mosque in Al Ain, UAE

The Bin Hamoodah Mosque in Al Ain is one of the key Islamic icons in the city and was just around the corner from where I lived. Early in the mornings the mosque was still deserted and the perfect place to walk around for some beauty, peace and quiet.

The Bin Hamooda Mosque has beautiful Moroccan architecture and serves as a place where Muslims can come together for worship as well as a center for information, education and social welfare.

Friday Facts: Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Did you know that the Burj Khalifa was designed to resemble the Hymenocallis flower?

Burj Khalifa in Dubai
The Burj Khalifa in the far distance

It is the tallest structure in the world and at 828 meters tall, soars over Dubai. It’s three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State. Laid end to end, it pieces stretch over a quarter of the way around the world.

Wordless Wednesday: Ships of the desert

ships of the desert
Ships of the desert line up!

Camels have this nickname because they glide across the deserts in Asia and Africa. They carry people and cargo, just like ships at sea. The desert is very hot and dry, with little food or water. Camels are able to do well in the desert because of the way their bodies are made.

Ships of the desert
Ships of the desert

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Camels and Sand during a Desert Safari in the UAE

Camels and Sand during a Desert Safari in the UAE
Our desert safari begins!!

I went on a desert safari a couple of years ago while living in the UAE. Seeing as it is one of the top outdoor things to do here, you will undoubtedly end up doing one sooner or later. It is not enough just living in the desert, surrounded by sand, you also have to go and explore these sand dunes. A desert safari is definitely not recommended during the super hot summer months as the heat then is just unbearable. You will probably melt or turn into a roasted tomato within minutes of stepping into the desert. Rather go in spring or autumn as the nights out in the desert can get quite chilly in winter and some safari’s offer overnight stays at their camps.

As we got into our air-conditioned 4×4 SUV I immediately buckled up as our driver looked like he was still in high school. And in the UAE the chances of this being true is quite huge as the boys start driving around at the age of 16 and love gallivanting around in the desert. Our crazy 4×4 driver sped across the desert of Abu Dhabi at such a high speed that we only caught glimpses of the desert expanse around us. We would speed up the dunes, swerving wildly from side to side, balance precariously at top and then vertically descend the dune again. As we descended the only thought going through my head was: please don’t stall!! As the momentum seemed to be the only thing keeping the vehicle from flipping over at any moment.

Camels and Sand during a Desert Safari in the UAE
The desert seems unending…would not want to get lost here.

In-between these heart attack moments of reckless driving we did get to stop for a couple of photo opportunities. Walking on these sand dunes is quite a challenge as you tend to sink away and my worst fear was slipping down a dune and then trying to make my way back up again. The photo-stops were also a vehicle cool down period as in the desert heat the vehicles could overheat quite easily, especially at the speeds these young boys drive and race around.

The whole dune bashing in a 4×4 suv, and having your life in the hands of a reckless teenager was not good for my nerves. Luckily we did stop to watch the beautiful sunset before racing off to the campsite for the evening.

At the site we had the opportunity to go on a very short camel ride. These ships of the desert are not very comfortable and I can’t even imagine being on a camel for more than 15 minutes. But I will never let a chance pass to see the desert from atop one of these strange animals. You get shaken and jerked around as this creature sways across the sand and just getting down again gives you whiplash. To relax a bit before dinner I tried out a henna design on my hand which I smudged within a minute of it being done, thus have no cool photo of this.

After working up an appetite, probably from all the stress caused by our reckless young SUV drivers, we had a delicious barbecue dinner and shisha (the famous Arabic water pipe). For dessert we had extra strong coffee while watching our belly dancer performing her show around the campfire by starlight. You forget how many stars are out there as the city lights usually make it hard to see them. Out in the desert it feels like you are seated under a blanket filled with stars. 

Camels and Sand during a Desert Safari in the UAE
Feeling all alone in this huge desert!

Throwback Thursday: Camel Races in the UAE

Published as part of Throwback Thursday,  a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favourite memories…… 

One of these memorable highlights was when I attended the spectacular camel races in the UAE while living there in 2008. Camels are known as the ships of the desert and has played a vital role in the UAE for thousands of years, influencing every aspect of daily life and today a special breed of camels are used for racing!

Camel Races in the UAE
Attending the Camel Races in the UAE

Armed with directions and a bottle of water each we got a taxi and headed out into the what felt like the middle of nowhere. After about an hour of driving through this vast, empty dessert and not seeing anything more exciting than a sand dune, we came upon the racing stadium. We paid the taxi driver and as he drove off we realised that we never arranged transport back to Al Ain. Realising that there was no use in worrying about that now we followed the crowd towards the main tent.

The huge Arabian tent was set up at the finishing line of these races. We sat down and watched an Emirate band performing before the races were about to start. We joinedthe locals in cheering on the camels as they galloped around this specially made track, and marvelled at how these seemingly ungainly creatures could reach such high speeds.

After watching two races from the tent we headed off to the starting point which was a lot more interesting and exciting. We got really up close to the camels and the jockeys. Watching as the handlers prepared the jockeys and camels for the next race.

At the starting point the handlers are all trying to position their camels and keep them from charging off. Once the net lifts ( which doubles as the gates) , the race is on, and so is an experience like no other! We watched as these camels flooded the track, legs flying in all directions, making their way as fast as they can down the track. Trainers follow in 4X4s, yelling for their jockeys to pick up the pace and be the first across the finish line.

Children are important in the UAE so, while young boys used to be allowed to be jockeys, a national law now prohibits boys under the age of 15 and under 45 kilos from being in the races. In the past these young children were under fed to keep them thin and light and a lot of these young jockeys died under the feet of camels.

We got a ride with one of these owners back to tent, so we got to follow the race from start to finish in true Emirate style. The excitement is contagious and something you must see to believe.  There were no taxis when the races ended, but luckily we got lift on a tourist bus to Abu Dhabi from where we could catch another bus back to Al Ain.

Wordless Wednesday: Sunset in the United Arab Emirates

Sunset in the United Arab Emirates
Sunset in the United Arab Emirates

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday: UAE Desert

UAE, Desert
UAE, Desert

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.