Category Archives: UAE

Sharjah and Ajman

UAE is made up of seven emirates:  Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.. When we decided to go to Dubai, we didn’t plan to go to any of the other emirates but thanks to my friend SS and his friend Mr. R, we were able to visit Sharjah and Ajman.

It was our last day in Dubai so SS and Mr. R decided to take us to Sharjah for dinner and then take a tour of Sharjah and Ajman by night. For dinner, we were also joined by Tash (From Life through a kaleidoscope) and her sister N.

Blog world is just wonderful as I would have never been able to meet Tash in a million years if we were not blogging. I got to know this nice, lovely, confident, enigmatic, mature, independent girl through her blogs. After interacting with her for some time, I felt like I knew her forever. It is just weird that we can have this connection with people and click so easily when both think in a similar way. I just love the fact that she can speak Nepali too and is so open and understanding.

Tash and me enjoying our dinner…

Anyway while I was planning for my stopover in Dubai, she suggested lots of stuff to do there and things to avoid. This made my holiday even better, so thank you so much gal. It was my pleasure to meet you and know you.

Please read her blog and her post on meeting meet me here .

I so agree with her here. “Normally we meet a person and then get to know about each other’s lives. In the blogosphere, the opposite happens. You know their lives and then put a face on it, and these kind of relationships, I believe, are so pure without any ulterior motive, simple and genuine”

Anyway, from our hotel we drove to Sharjah, and found this nice Iranian restaurant. We asked the waiter to give us typical Arabic food and we were given so much food! We had rice, chicken, bread,  lentils, salads and side dishes such as hummus, falafel, ful, tabouleh, labaneh, and baba ghanoush. The fresh bed kept coming nonstop and finally we had Arabic coffee to finish the meal. I had my heart full and tummy full with the amazing food. It was a great time with lots of laugh.

From there we went to a nearby mosque and a beach. The mosque was looked beautiful in the light. It was a pleasant evening driving around. We saw more mosques and forts and drove past the Blue Souk. Then we went to Khalid Lagoon and relaxed for a while. All the lights made the building and Ferris wheel really beautiful. It was so calm and quite. Khalid Lagoon has a water fountain that reaches heights of 100 meters making it the third highest fountain in the world. The fountain is surrounded with many different family attractions.

While driving around, for the first time in my life I saw a hypermarket, Spar Hypermarket. I knew only of supermarkets but now I know a hypermarket as well 🙂

From there, we went to Ajman, which is the smallest among the emirates. We drove through the beautiful city. Most of the shops were closed and there wes not much traffic on the road. We went through Dhow Yard and Ajman Museum which is situated at a fortress from the 18th century. It was an awesome day. Around 1pm, they drop us back to our  hotel and that concluded our UAE trip.

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Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre

One of the days we were in Dubai, we decide to do our own city discovery so early in the morning. We caught a cab and asked to be dropped in one of the souks. Souk means market in Arabic. The cab dropped us in a gold souk.

Gold, Spice and Utensils souk

One of the reason I wanted to go to the gold souk is because it was recommended by everyone on the internet. Even though I am not into gold, I was thought, if the place was reasonably cheap, we could buy a piece for my mom and mother in law but once I was there I was just overwhelmed.

The souk is located in the heart of Dubai’s commercial business district in Deira, in the locality of Al Dhagaya. The souk consists of over 300 retailers that trade almost exclusively in jewellery.

As soon as I got out of the cab, even at 9am in the morning it was humid and hot. Lucky we had some water with us. Once we paid the cab, an Indian looking man came over and asked if we want some bags, watches or t-shirt. From what I read from reviews, I knew he was trying to sell us fake stuffs so we declined and entered the Gold Souk.

OMG I was going crazy seeing so much gold on display in the windows. Seriously, the amount of money that costs to buy those jewelleries must be in the millions. Every shop display was filled in gold with big and chucky gold items. There were a few which had silver and diamonds but most of them were of just gold. I have seen gold shops in Nepal and India but they were nothing close to the ones in the souk. Also I realised that most of the bangles, jewel laden necklaces, rings were in Indian style.

After doing some window shopping for a while and being hassled by many more men to buy their fake product, we finally decided to go inside one of the shops. We had a rough idea on how much the gold was in the international market so I asked to see a 5gm gold coin. I realised that it was not as cheap as we expected. The price of the gold pieces is based on the price of gold by gram, plus the price of the workmanship. So AS and I decided that it was not worth buying anything from there for our mothers and left. In Nepal, they prefer ornaments made of 22carat gold but most of the ready-made items there were 18 carat gold.

For me, even if I didn’t buy anything, we were happy with my visit to the place and a few photos. After that we decided to find the spice markets. It was not very far from the gold market and surprisingly we also found a Utensils markets.

The Spice Souk, situated on Sikkat Al Khail Road, is in the locality of Al Ras. The souk comprises several narrow lanes which are lined with open and closed-roof stores that sell a variety of fragrances and spices from frankincense and shisha to the many herbs used in Arabic and South Asian food. In addition, several textiles, incense, rugs and artefacts are also sold in the Spice Souk. The air around the souk was very aromatic.

As we were walking away from the Spice Souk, without buying anything as Australia has strict quarantine rules and we didn’t want to get into the hassle of explaining every product, we stumbled onto a Utensil Souk.

I think we spent well over 2 hours in these souks and both of us were getting very tired and hot. For the first time, I could feel the heat of Dubai. Our initial plan was to go to Deira creek but we changed our mind and went to Deira City Centre. Yap more shopping. Just took a cab and went to the cool and air-conditioned shopping mall.

Deira City Centre

Deira City Centre is one of many malls in Dubai which has retail outlets, restaurants, entertainment facilities and a hotel. We went to a coffee shop and had a cake and coffee, rested for some time and then went shopping. In the end, we had our lunch there as well. It was an Arabic restaurant and the food was really good. In that restaurant for the first time, AS had a non- alcoholic beer. He was telling me that it tasted exactly like a normal beer but just didn’t have any alcohol in it.

Dubai Land

When we did a tour of Dubai, one of the places they took us to was Dubai Land. They are planning to make this big and amazing theme park and as it is going to be in Dubai, it is going to be the world’s biggest theme park when it is finished in 2020. It is estimated to cost 64.3 billion.

The project will feature cultural facilities with structures based on famous sites and the architectural marvels of the world, such as the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Spread over an area of 4 million square metres, it is shaped to represent the falcon, emblematic of the UAE’s heritage. In addition to that the project will consist of a full function Pharaohs Theme Park with multiple white-knuckle rides and roller coasters, Islamic Culture & Science World.

So basically after 2020, if you are thinking of going on a  holiday and can’t afford to go to Paris to see Eiffel tower, China to see great wall of China, Peru to see Machu Picchu and India to see Taj Mahal or any other wonder of the world, just go to Dubai land and you will be able to see the exact replica of everything in their original size. I really think Dubai is planning to take over the world’s tourism after 2020.

When I went to the room where there was the display of the model of Dubai Land, I was really impressed. –

Dubai Marina

We went to the Dubai Marina as a part of our tour as well. It is an artificial canal city, carved along a two-mile (3 km) stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline. It is the largest man-made marina in the world. It has a number of five-star hotels, commercial properties and residential area. There are so many outdoor cafes and restaurants and has a lively vibe that it’s remarkably pleasant to stroll down the pedestrian strip. The area has a stunning water feature that opens out in the widest part of the marina where you can eat al fresco capturing the excellent views and soak up the ambience.

I also noticed that in the marina there were lots of yachts docked. Definitely a place for the rich and famous.

More on Dubai :

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

Desert safari in Dubai

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

Dubai Mall as you have already heard is one of the biggest shopping centres in Dubai. While we were in Dubai, we went there almost every day. As I mentioned in my previous post, it was one of the coolest places in Dubai so we went back again to see the mall by day even though we had seen it the first night we were there.

For me it was like being in heaven. There was an array of shops everywhere I looked. There were high end shops like LV, Dior, Channel, Burberry, Versace , Armani and how can I forget the towering shoes in Jimmy Choo. Also there were shops like Zara , Forever 21 as well. There are over 1200 stores and one can only dream how long it would take to go to every shop there. The mall itself is split into 5 unique themed areas, circling the gold souk located in the centre which is intuitive to navigate.

We went to some of the shops and did some shopping. The mall seems so big and once you start walking you surely feel it in your legs. I was really excited that I was in a place which is considered as the shopping Mecca of the world. I hurried from one shop to another buying a few shoes and jewelleries. But after walking for a few hours , I was so tired that  for the first time in my life I was sick of shopping and told my husband I was ready to stop shopping and do something else. My husband was so surprised that I got tired of shopping. He thought he would never hear that in his life time. 🙂 So we decided to stop in one of the coffee shops to have a cake and coffee and rest our legs. As I was seriously over shopping by that time we decided to go to see the aquarium again. On the way to the aquarium we stopped at the gold souk. It has an Arabian market theme selling everything gold. It has a nice relaxing environment.

Once we were in the aquarium, we took some more photos. It was similar to Sydney’s Aquarium and literally just a huge rectangular fish tank and an underwater tunnel similar to the one in Sydney. The tunnel goes under the aquarium and you can see reef sharks, large schools of fish and even a whale shark. The tank is themed to a shipwreck with several man-made barnacle ridden structures seen around the tank, giving it a rather weathered look.

At the exit of the tunnel there is a rainforest café. It looked cool but we didn’t go inside. From there we went to second part of the zoo which is in the third floor.

As soon as we enter the underwater zoo, it follows a rather linear route winding through the exhibits and passing through many tanks of fishes before moving onto the next. There are many kinds of fishes like piranhas and even playful otters. There were also some fishes native to the Amazon as well as south east Asia. There was a shark tank comprising of small reef sharks, jellyfishes which glow under synthetic florescent lighting as well as a few relatively exotic crustaceans such as Alaskan crabs. The deep sea areas of the zoo are nicely themed with waterfalls and fiberglass cave walls, giving it a subterranean atmosphere.

Following the route, we eventually came to the bug section called creepy crawly where we could see scorpions and tarantulas and in the reptile section of the zoo where there were display of some lizards and snakes. There was also a mini suspension bridge made of rope up there which forms the rainforest “canopy walk” part of the park, allowing you to have an overview of the rainforest portions of the park. One of the best parts of the zoo was watching the penguins exhibit. After the tour of the underwater zoo we went to another part of the mall.

There is a large multipurpose ice rink called the Dubai Ice Rink in one atrium of the mall. It is used for ice hockey matches as well as a skating or public ice-skating rink. The ice is very smooth and resurfaced daily. There was some practice session going on while we were there so we didn’t get a chance to go inside the rink.

I am sure people can easily spend a whole day shopping or going through different things at the Dubai Mall. It’s a good thing that despite the entire lush luxuriousness  which surrounds the theme of the Dubai Mall, most of the stores there still cater to the masses and a wide range of consumer budget. I will definitely go back to the mall when I visit Dubai again.

Please click here for more photos.

More on Dubai

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

Desert safari in Dubai

Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre

Desert safari in Dubai

This was one of the best things we did in Dubai and I highly recommend it to anyone going to Dubai. We booked our’s through Arabian Adventures but there are other companies as well who do the similar tours.

It consists of safari drive with dune-bashing, camel ride, eagle show, belly dancing, henna tattoo, barbecue and much, much more.

As it was Sundowner Desert Safari Tour, we were picked up from the hotel around 4 pm in a four wheel drive, then we picked up 3 more people from different hotels and were driven to somewhere deep into the desert. There we were met by rows upon rows of four-wheel drive SUVs full of excited tourists like us for the safari.

All the four-wheel drives then followed each other to the first stop where we sat down for an eagle show. The place was still very hot and humid as the sun was still up but I didn’t mind much as the cold desert breeze was making sure we didn’t get too hot. We were given a cold bottle of water to drink which helped us cool down as well. The guy doing the eagle show was an Aussie and he explained his eagles and showed us how the birds do the show for food. Overall, a nice stop over.

Then we were back in the vehicle to go to the next stop. The safari takes place in a conservation area. Each company has their own spot and the range of service differs from each other. The driver explained that we will have one more stop in the middle to see the sunset before the dinner stop.

While driving, we saw lots of wild animals. After 5 minutes drive, the driver asked us to fasten our seat belts as the ride get bumpy from that point forward. He assured us we would be safe. He then raced into the steep dune, swung around and slid down the slopes. It was like being in a rollercoaster as it is coming down. I was amazed at his driving skills as the car didn’t fall over. We could see the cars in front jumping up and down and knew that is exactly what ours was doing as well. Once we realised we would be safe we enjoyed it. Over the course of the next hour or so, we were tossed about in every possible direction, things were moving in different directions, heads banged together and I could hear screams of “aahh’ and “ wow”. Definitely, the highlight of the tour was the dune bashing. If you enjoy the thrills of safari rally driving, this is the best attraction.

Then we stopped to watch the sunset. It was one of the beautiful sites to see such an amazing view with your loved one by your side. Watching the sunset in the desert was very romantic. We took some nice photos and some silly ones too  🙂 .

Then we were back in the car for our final stop at the desert camp where we were to spend the rest of the evening. Camel rides and henna tattoos were available at no extra charge so we joined the queue to ride the camel. It was really fun. I had done a camel ride before in India but this was a bigger camel than that. We took photos perched atop the camel.

After that we stopped over to take photos with an eagle. I was a bit scared at the first but once it was in my hand, I felt better. It was so amazing to have the bird so close knowing how powerful it can be.

Finally we went to a desert camp for dinner and a display of traditional and belly dancing. The food was good and plentiful. There were wines and lots of soft drinks. While we were having dinner a belly dancer entertained us. I was a bit disappointed with the belly dancer as she was nothing close to the ones I have seen on TV but that might be just me.

After we finished dinner we went and got henna tattoos. AS got a tattoo of snake on his upper arm and I got flowers on my hand. The lady who did the henna was nice enough to do both my hands.  It was almost 10pm at night and they announced that we were going to leave soon so we gathered our things and went to the parking lot to meet our driver. It was almost a one and a half our drive back to the hotel so I rested until we got off and ran to the comfy bed.

It was a great desert safari that gave us the opportunity to experience the local traditional culture, enjoy the fascinating sights, have an adventurous drive, a camel ride and above all enjoying the delicious barbecue with ceremonious belly dancers dancing to the feel of Arabian music. It was a unique experience for a lifetime.

Please click here are some more photos.

More on Dubai

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

I had the pleasure of visiting, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building , which stands 2,717 feet (828 m) tall while we were in Dubai. As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend SS and his friend Mr. R dropped us in Dubai Mall around 9.45 pm as we had booked tickets for Burj Khalifa’s Observation Deck for 10pm. The entrance to the Burj Khalifa is next to The Dubai Mall’s Lower Ground level. The tickets cost us 100 Dirham (AU$25) as I had bought them online a week ago from Sydney but if you were to buy the tickets on the same day, the price is 400 Dirham (AU$ 100). Our research paid us well :).

Our Ticket

Fiberglass Khalifa

After handing out the ticket to the lady at the gate, we have to go through a security check and then had to wait for 15 minutes in the lobby. In the lobby there was a replica of the tower made with fibreglass which is illuminated with blue light as well as some history about the tower. At one corner of the room there were a few items from the movie Mission Impossible, the Ghost Protocol. After a while we were asked to queue up and we caught a lift to the second level. Then we had to take two more escalators before we reached the world’s fastest elevators. Along the way there were information about the building process, the design of the tower etc. and also a couple of models of the building.

Mission Impossible props in Burj Khalifa

World’s fastest elevator in Burj Khalifa

For the elevator, we needed to queue up and were finally escorted inside the elevator. I was thinking the ride in the elevator would be like one of the rides we get in Disneyland (you know, your body goes up but your stomach seems to have stayed back down at ground level) but to my surprise I didn’t feel a thing. It was quite small (carrying about 14 people) but very fast. The lift travels at about 18 m/s so it only takes a minute or so to reach the observation deck at the 124th floor (there are still 39 stories above the observation deck). The only indication that the elevator was moving was the indicator on the elevator and the ear pressure you feel as it moves up.

Before we left Sydney, I had done some research and found this video on YouTube. So I was expecting something thrilling like that but to my disappointment it was just a floor with glass windows and nothing beyond that is accessible to the public. Now I realise that, the only reason the guys in the video were allowed to go so high was because they were staff members during the filming of the latest Mission Impossible movie (Ghost Protocol).

36 floors above us

As soon as we got out on to the viewing area I could feel the humid air of Dubai even at 10 in the night. Anyway from the windows we got a great view of the landscape of Dubai, like from a plane. There was light everywhere and I could see the beautiful city. The view is obviously out of this world, truly breathtaking seeing Dubai in the night. We walk around and took heaps of photos. Computerised telescopes which allow visitors to zoom in different streets and buildings of Dubai were placed in different places at the deck. We also saw the musical fountains from the top and it’s great views from different angle.

View of Dubai from Burj Khalifa

Computerised telescope

Unlike KLCC tower and other towers I had been to before, you can stay here as long as you wish but there is so much you can see from the top. After almost an hour on the top, we took a lift down. Along this path also, there were information about the building process, the design, history on how the building was built and photos of some people who were part of making this iconic building. Also there were many interactive features like ‘Burj Around the World’ which allow visitors to view Burj Khalifa against the skyline of other famous cities.

me and AS at the top of Burj Khalifa

Gold ATM in Dubai

On the way out from the Khalifa, for the first time in my life, we saw a Gold ATM. Of course where else one expect to see a Gold to go ATM that sells 24 carat gold bars or coins at current market prices. It’s updated every ten minutes to stay current with prices on the world gold market. The exterior of the machine is coated with a thin layer of gold and it is very shiny. It offers 320 items to choose from, ranging from gold bars that can weigh up to 10 grams, to customised gold coins.

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If you are interested, here are some Interesting facts about the Burj Khalifa:

  • Burj Khalifa was known as Burj Dubai but during GFC,  Abu Dhabi leader had to bail them out of their debt crisis so they named it Khalifa, in honour of the President of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khaifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan. .
  • There are 1,210 fire extinguishers on the site.
  • At peak cooling times, the tower requires approximately 10,000 tonnes of cooling per hour.
  • The tower’s observation deck is located 442 metres above ground, the highest publicly accessible observation deck in the world.
  • Condensation on the building is collected and drained down to a holding tank located in the basement from where it is pumped into the site irrigation system for use on the tower’s landscaped gardens. This system provides about 15 million gallons of supplemental water per year, equivalent to nearly 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • The amount of steel rebar used for the tower is 31,400 metric tons – laid end to end this would extend over a quarter of the way around the world.
  • Dubai has set a new world record for vertical concrete pumping for a building, by pumping to over 460 metres. The previous record was held by Taipei 101 for pumping concrete up to a height of 448 metres.
  • Burj Khalifa also breaks the world record for altitude transportation of concrete before construction is complete.
  • The total area of cladding used to cover the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to 17 football fields.
  • The concrete used for the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to a solid cube of concrete 61 metres on a side, a sidewalk 1,900 kilometres long, the weight of 100,000 elephants.
  • The tower’s peak electricity demand is estimated at 36MVA, equivalent to roughly 360,000 100-watt light bulbs.
  • The Burj Khalifa features the world’s first Armani Hotel.
  • Burj Khalifa derives its design inspiration from the desert flower, Hymenocalis, and incorporates patterning systems that are embodied in Islamic architecture.
  • The Burj Khalifa spire is visible from as far away as 95 kms.
  • The total glass requirement is 142K sq/m.
  • The car park has approx. 3,000 parking places in four levels and a total area of just under 89000 m2.

More on Dubai

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

Desert safari in Dubai

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

Dubai city, Souks , Marina, Dubai land & Deira City Centre