Seeing the United Arab Emirates

This came about during my visit to the Dominican Republic. The luxury lifestyle staff brought Dubai back into focus for me to visit. I know I didn’t want to go in the dead of summer it would be too hot. I engaged my brother and family with my regular traveling partner, so we decided on the Easter break when my nephew would be off from school. It was a good choice of time because the weather was great.

After a 12 hour flight, we arrived in Dubai early in the morning. This airport is quite big, and needless to mention, you are quickly approached by vendors wooing you into buying timeshare. Be mindful not to be taken in by these offers of free gifts and fast talk as they can be quite insistent. Our prearranged ride to the hotel was there, and we communicated via wattsapp, so there was no difficulty in meeting.

We were all prepared to sit in the lobby of our hotel until check-in, to our surprise and pleasure our rooms were ready by 10:30am. This might have been a fluke, or because it was not peak season or me being an honors member. Whatever the reason, I was not going to question it. Wow, the ambiance was lovely, and getting to our rooms where the view was breathtaking was even better.

A view of Burj Khalifa from my hotel room seemed close but I found out very quickly driving around Dubai was not that straightforward. I am not sure about other hotels, but The Hilton Al Habatoor offers a free shuttle to the mall where the Burj Khalifa stands.

My immediate impression is how friendly the people were and how clean the place was. We took the day to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings and to firm up our plans for visiting points of interest. We had done research before and had a good idea of what we wanted do in addition to those already reserved excursions. We were next to the theatre in the Habatoor area where Le Perle was being shown. This is a fusion of aerial, acrobatic, and water stunts with great stage effects that can be enjoyed by children and adults.

This act had two motorcyclists and later two more were added riding at great speed, amazing!

Another highlight of our visit was spending a day in Abu Dhabi. There are many options when it comes to tour operators so one can decide which one based your interest from brief to in-depth. I was happy that tour operators pick up guests from their hotels. We booked some through It was a lovely drive, about an hour and a half, along the highway passing by remarkably designed buildings, oil refinery, construction etc. As you cross from Dubai into Abu Dhabi I noted a change in the color of the road. What was also notable was the vegetation and the difference in design of the street lights.

Abu Dhabi note the color of the street quite distinctive I thought

We visited The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. This is an impressive structure that can be viewed from a distance before actually arriving at the site. To enter the mosque, there are very strict rules you have to adhere to. The dress code, particularly for women it is very specific with some less restrictions for men, that must be adhered to, or you will be denied entrance. For women, the head, arm, and ankles must be covered. The dress code is checked at many points before actually entering the pathway leading to the building. If you are planning to visit, familiarize yourself with the required dress code.

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque consists of 82 domes of different sizes
Head covered, sleeves to the wrist, ankles covered
The entry way after you clear inspection
On the trek towards the mosque
These columns are seen on the outdoor arcade of the Mosque and is made of inlaid white marble and floral designs of precious stones
Portions of one of the largest rugs in the world located in the Mosque
Prayer hall

As you walk through you have to be mindful of the signs that indicate areas where photographs are restricted. The prayer areas are roped off. I also noticed a visitor all dressed in cultural dress posing with outstretched arms close to a restricted area she was approached by security and the photograph had to be erased. By the time you finish the walk through, you will be tired, luckily there is a shuttle to take you back down to the main entrance requiring a shorter walk to exit into the shops, restrooms and parking garage.

Sheik Zayed Bridge
Entrance to the Emirates Palace Hotel, a real luxury hotel
Lobby of the Emirates Palace Hotel
View while standing in front of Emirates Palace two other luxury hotels.
Most of the people were tourists taking a tour. It appears this is a regular spot included in tours
Entrance to the Presential Palace
Judicial building
Capital gate referred to as Abu Dhabi’s leaning tower.

We made a brief stop at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, located on the marina mall island. There is a small historical museum and a number of vendors. The village offers a beautiful view of the skyline.

To really get to see all that Abu Dhabi has to offer, you should consider more than a day tour. However, my main interest was seeing the Grand Mosque and getting a contrast between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We also made a stop at the spice market before heading back to Dubai. We sampled dates and different kind of sweets.

If you are staying in Dubai, there is a lot to see, with one of the major points of interest, The Burj Khalifa known as the tallest building in the world. The entrance is located in the Dubai mall along with other attractions such as the aquarium, the underwater zoo, and the lagoon where the fountain show occurs. When purchasing tickets, you must choose a specific time, and I guess it depends on how busy you might be allowed to start your tour earlier than the designated time. We arrived at the mall by a hotel shuttle bus that dropped us off in a parking area that seemed to be one of the major stops for the hop on and hop off buses.

The front entrance to the mall. The Burj Khalifa is located closer to the rear of the mall towards the plaza.
Inside the mall is a huge with sit-in restaurants in addition to a food court.
The aquarium is quite huge extending along what seemed like a block
Extension of the aquarium and underwater zoo viewing from the hallway.You could see people getting into that cage from this vantage point.
There are restaurants in this area (at the back just outside of the mall) people strolling around and some probably waiting to see the fountain show.
2715 ft high we went to the 124th and 125th floor but you are able to go higher depending on the ticket you bought.
Part of decoration in what I refer to as the Plaza
The lagoon where the fountain show occurs
Just before the show, which starts at 7pm
Burj Khalifa at night while driving on the parkway.

There are three artificial islands on Dubai’s coastline, Palm Islands, and we visited one, Palm Jumeirah. As you drive unto the island, you are struck by the beautiful towering new buildings. You immediately notice the row like design. It is not until you visit the Palm View that you really get the appreciation of the design of a Palm tree. The idea to construct these islands was to attract more tourists. The buildings include residences and hotels. Before you get to the observation deck you are given an interactive demonstration explaining the history of creating the island. Visiting the view does not require a specific time but the cost for tickets are higher after 3:30pm. Be mindful that if you purchased a lower priced ticket and arrive after 3:30pm you will be required to pay the difference.

Entering Palm Jumeirah Island
Learning a bit about how the island came about
Burj AL Arab said to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the world and quite expensive to stay there. Viewed from Palm View on Palm Jumeirah Island.

Returning to the mainland, we were able to get a closer look at this famous hotel that sits on a little island accessed by a little bridge from the mainland and steps from Jumeirah beach.

The place is very clean, people are friendly but what was very striking to me, is how many of their workers in the restaurants, hotels, points of interest etc are not from the Emirates, Those I encountered were mainly from India and I also met a few others in my hotel from the Dominican Republic. This is really a growing country with unusually shaped buildings, high-rise buildings and lots of buildings being constructed. I will cover another set of places we visited next.

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