Tag Archives: dubai

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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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.

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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

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.

Please click here for more photos.

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

Let’s start with Amazing Dubai

If a place manages to amaze you when you see it after a 14 hours flight and 28 hours with no sleep then I am sure that is an amazing place and that is what Dubai was for me. When we got off at Dubai International Airport, we could already feel that we were in Dubai as it was very big and massive as we had expected. The first thing I noticed was that the people who were working there were all men and all of them were wearing their traditional dress, tawb or taub (long white robe) and the headscarf (keffiyeh).

I think quite a few flights landed at the same time as we did since there was a long queue at immigrations. So we had to wait for a while before we could clear immigration and collect our baggage. Both me and AS were really happy to start the first leg of our vacation.  As soon as we got out of the airport, I felt the hot and humid air against my face. I knew that it was going to be really hot there but it was still a bit of a shock for my body as we had come from the cold Sydney weather. Anyway as we had airport transfer booked, we went to find the office of Arabian Adventures. It was the last office in the building.

Once we were there we were informed that it would be another 20 minute for our transfer to arrive. We had no choice but to wait. After 30 minutes we were escorted to our van and we were joined by a lady from Sydney. I was glad to be in the van as it had AC and was very comfortable. I noticed that they had taxis with a cream coloured body and red roof for normal use and cream body and pink roof to be used by only women. The drivers of those cabs were women as well. After nearly 20 minutes ride we were at our hotel, Marco Polo.

We had done a lot a of research for our hotel through travel advisor and it was one of the ones with a good review. It was supposed to be a four star hotel. My first impression was good as the hotel looked decent from outside. As soon as the van stopped, the porter came and took our suitcases. We checked into our room and hurried to freshen up to go out.

SS, a friend of mine from my school days, lives in Dubai and since it was Friday, their weekend, he had promised to show us Dubai. Due to the airport transfer delay , we were late arriving at the hotel so both of us were rushing to get ready before SS arrived at out hotel. When I had just finished my shower, we got a call from the reception that SS has arrived. I and AS were really tired but there was no time to rest so we hurried and got ready and went to meet SS.

I hadn’t seen SS for more than 15 years. When we decided to stop over in Dubai for our trip, I had some questions so when I saw him online on Facebook one day I asked him a few questions. He had asked me when we were coming to Dubai and when he realised that it would be Friday, he had offered to show us around that evening.

When we took the lift to the lobby and I saw SS, I felt very happy but at the same time it was a bit awkward. He seemed a bit different from I remembered and definitely was not a boy as I remembered. But all the awkwardness went away once we started talking, I realised that nothing had changed. It still felt like we were in school and we were still friends :). He told me he has been working in Dubai for the last eight years but his wife and two-year old boy is still in Nepal and he visited them every year. Along with him, he had his colleague, Mr. R. He was from Kerala, India and he had been living in Dubai for 15 years. They worked in the perfume industry and brought us some perfume as gifts :).

Mr. R, SS and AS in front of Deira creek

After the initial chitchat and introduction, we hopped into the car and we were off to see Dubai with the locals. Both of them seemed happy to show us around and we were excited to see the city despite being quite tired from the flight. The hotel we stayed was in Deira so the first stop was Deira Creek. There were lots of people enjoying the cool breeze at that time and obviously lots of tourist too. We could see the beautiful skyline from there as well as hundreds of boats. Some of them were for tourists, for sightseeing, while other were floating restaurants but the best and biggest ones were private boats docked there.

Out of the total population of Dubai only 17% are local Emiratis (from Wikipedia) while the rest are all migrants. So the small number of people are very rich and live a lavish life style. They drive nice cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW, Mercedes Benz and so on. Also they seem to love big four wheelers. SS explained to us that the number plates in Dubai normally have 5 digits but the less number of digits there are on the plate, the more important the person that car belongs to. The Sheik of Dubai drives a car with just the number 1 on the plates.

Burj Al Arab

After walking for a while along the banks of the creek, we were back in the car and off to the famous Jumeirah beach from where we could see the famous Burj Al Arab which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “the world’s only seven-Star hotel”. Tourists were able to pay and join organised tours of the hotel before but the hotel patrons complained about the noise and inconvenience so they stopped the tours. Now the only way to go inside is either by booking a room there or going for a meal in one of the restaurants located there, otherwise it can only be viewed from the outside.

While we were driving to get there, I saw that the roads in Dubai are very wide and there are lots of cars. The best part was that petrol was only 42 cents a litre while water is 50 cents a litre. Anyways, we parked near Jumeirah beach, near a mosque. As it was evening prayer time, there were lots of people heading towards the mosque wearing traditional Muslim clothes.

As we walked for a few minutes, I could see the iconic Burj Al Arab. It looked magnificent. Just recently I had watched a documentary on how the building was made on the man-made island and knowing those facts made it even more interesting. According to the documentary, they used special bolt technique for the metal poles so even when it expands in the 40-50 degree heat, it doesn’t affect the structural integrity of the building. I was really fascinated by it and if you want to know more do look into this.

AS and me in front of Bruj Al Arab

Here are some facts about Burj Al Arab from the internet.

  • Burj Al Arab also know as Tower of the Arabs is fourth tallest hotel in the world. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) out from Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It was built to resemble the sail of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. Two “wings” spread in a V to form a vast “mast”, while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium. 
  • Despite its size, Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 m2 (1,820 sq ft), the largest covers 780 m2 (8,400 sq ft).[15] Prices of rooms vary from approximately $1,000 to $27,000 per night.

We took photos in front of it and stayed on the beach for a while. That is one of the few free public beaches in Dubai. There are a few where you need to pay to go inside and the rest are private, either owned by people or some hotel. I saw a lot of families having a BBQ on the beach. Life seemed happy and normal as I sat on the sand and watched the locals enjoy their day off. I am saying this because I got lots of warnings from people on what not to do in Dubai and at one point it had scared me. But sitting by the beach with my husband and friends, I felt happy and I had no worries in the world.

As we had booked to go to the top of Burj Khalifa at 10 pm that night our next stop was going to be Dubai mall. We decided that we were going to have dinner there as well so we hopped into the car for Dubai mall.

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area. It has 1200 shops and is located in the Burj Khalifa complex. The mall also has Dubai Aquarium, Under Water Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink.

Burj Khalifa

On the way to the mall, when I set my eyes on  Burj Khalifa for the first time, I was mesmerised by its beauty. They were just magnificent and I was more impressed as I had watched Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. There was lots of traffic going towards the mall and the journey that was normally supposed to take 20 minutes took an hour for us. Mr R dropped us in front of the mall and went looking for parking as he didn’t want us to miss the musical fountain. It was really nice of both of them to make sure that we enjoyed as much as we could while we were there.

  • The Dubai Fountain is a record-setting choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 240 feet into the air accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music.It was built at a cost of AED 800 million (USD 218 million). 
  • The Dubai Fountain can spray 22,000 gallons (83,000 liters) of water in the air at any moment. More than 6,600 lights and 25 colour projectors have been installed. The Dubai Fountains project water in the air in many different combinations and patterns. The beam of light from the fountain can be seen from over 20 miles away. 
  • The Dubai Fountain consists of many high-pressure water jets and shooters: oarsmen or water robots, which can make the water seem to dance, shooters, which shoot water upwards; super shooters, which shoot water under more pressure up to 240 feet in the air, and extreme shooters, which can shoot water under the most pressure to 420 feet in the air. These shooters create a loud “boom” noise after water is ejected. The super shooters are used the least during each show because it takes a lot of time to build up enough pressure and energy to shoot water that high in the air. After the opening ceremony, the extreme shooters have been closed and still do not perform in the show. 
  • The fountain is animated with performances set to light and music. It is visible from every point on the lake promenade and from many neighbouring structures. Performances take place at 1:00 pm and at 1:30 pm as well as every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 10 pm on weekdays, and from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekends (weekends being Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

(source wiki)

I have seen the musical fountain in Vegas but this one seemed bigger than that. I really enjoyed the show with Khalifa as the background. After that we went to catch a bite and then it was time for us to go up to see Dubai from Top Of The World.

the magnificent Dubai musical fountain

Our plan was for SS and Mr R to leave us there and we meant to catch a cab back to the hotel but they insisted on waiting for us to take us back themselves. In those short few hours I was touched by their hospitality and kindness many times.

Me in front of Candylicious with M & M

We left them in the mall and went up to see Dubai from the top. It took us more than an hour to finish the tour. We meet SS and Mr. R again and were planning to go back to hotel. Both AS and I were dead tired by then but SS and Mr. R were planning to show more of Dubai that night and made plans to show us more of the Dubai mall. We felt obliged and went to see one of the souk inside the mall as well as the Dubai Mall Aquarium and dropped into Candylicious, the world’s largest candy store.

AS and in front of Dubai mall aquarium

I was really impressed by the way Dubai was planned and made. Definitely one of the grandest places I have ever seen. After another hour of wandering around Dubai mall it was past midnight and they dropped us back to the hotel.

By the time we hit the bed it was past 1 am Dubai time which was 7 am Sydney time and we hadn’t slept since 3am the day before. It makes 28 hours of non stop travel and sightseeing 🙂

When I was trying to sleep, I could hear music coming from the disco located on the first floor of the hotel. I had read about that in the review of the hotel but as I was so tired it didn’t bother me and the next second I was fast asleep and didn’t wake up until 8 am the next morning.

Despite lack of sleep and tiredness, I was already in love with Dubai and it was just day one there.

Here are some of the facts about Dubai that I learnt during the trip

  • The official language is Arabic, Arabic and English are commonly used in business and commerce. Hindi and Urdu are also widely used.
  • You won’t believe this but it is true that over 80% of the residents of Dubai are foreigners. Moreover, about 10000 new residents arrive in Dubai every month.
  • There are no taxes on income.
  • Dubai has the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa standing at 828 metres ( 2,716.5 feet ). It also has the fastest elevators in the world.
  • No matter which part of Dubai you are in, you will hear calls to prayer at least five times a day. Even in shopping malls, the calls to prayer are put out over the speakers, to remind Muslims that it is time to pray.
  • Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6 % to the economy of Dubai.
  • Mall of Emirates in Dubai is featured with an indoor ski resort named Ski Dubai Snow Park and they allow visitors to ski indoors while they shop.
  • The currency in Dubai is the dirham (Dh).
  • The world’s largest horses can be found in Dubai.
  • Dubai has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.
  • Average annual rainfall in Dubai is only 13 centimetres.
  • While mentioning addresses, street addresses are not mentioned as there are no street addresses in Dubai.

I will be writing more about my trip, hope you will still be interested. :-). Please click here for more photos.

More on Dubai

Hello from the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa

Desert safari in Dubai

The Dubai Mall, aquarium and underwater zoo

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