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Arabian Nights

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Sunday, 19 June 2011 | Views [954] | Comments [3]

Okay, okay, so I’ve been MEGA slack in the blogging department over the past month or two now – sincerest apologies. I know I’ve deprived you all (ha!), but seriously?.. the honest truth is I've been so preoccupied with more life changing travel, that finding even the minutest amount of time for writing has been impossible. I’ve been negligent I know, but you must forgive me for being so busy. After all, I've been captivated with the most incredible experiences. So let’s turn a leaf before there are any hard feelings, and get back on track :P

I guess you can say it’s been a wild ride so far. I’ve been on the road again now for only a fortnight now but gods honest truth, there hasn’t been a moment free where I’m not out exploring the world, visiting/meeting family and friends, riding camels through deserts or simply out at the pub. Not even lying. Today marks the nineteenth day of June, and alas, this is my FIRST day off (that is, no plans, no visiting, no exploring – just one hellova sleep in and nothing more than pitching tents to see how they fare for our Europe travels next month). The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and adventure so I don’t really know where to begin. Ha, that’s not unusual – recounting events of my travels is so hard to put down in writing because, well, it leaves me speechless!


I’ll dedicate this blog to my escapades throughout Dubai – a place where old meets new, and somewhere that I’d make every effort to go back to in the future. Even as a little girl I adored the Walt Disney movie Aladdin, and always dreamed of visiting somewhere as magical as the fictional kingdom of Agrabah. My time had finally come to explore the modern-day Arabia, and find for myself my very own magical oil lamp, genie and all!!


To paint a general picture, Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates and is located south of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. Since the discovery of oil during the 1960’s Dubai’s economy has thrived and has emerged as a global city and international business hub. Beautiful in its own right, this enchanting city is an ironic combination of ancient and yet at the same time, modern, ultra trendy and cosmopolitan.

The first thing you’ll notice (it’s fairly hard to miss) is the climate. As you’d expect, Dubai has an arid, desert climate, and being Summer – I know, we’re flippin’ crazy – this was like nothing I had ever experienced in all my life. The average daily high was around 42 °C with overnight lows of around 30 °C, making it intensely hot and borderline unbearable pretty much 24 hours of the day. All the while we were there it was sunny and still, with little to no breeze, making the heat nauseating. It still baffles me as to how we didn’t suffer from dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke or all of the above combined. Air conditioned bus shelters were our savoir – best invention... Ever!


Climate aside, as it should really come as no surprise, is the incredibly rich Arab/Bedouin culture and strict Islamic traditions. In contrast though, Dubai is a highly cosmopolitan society with a diverse and vibrant culture. Although men mainly wore traditional Thobe (long white robes), it was just as common to spot a man in suit and tie. I found it extremely novel when shopping in the likes of the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, how women were shopping for Western clothes and toting around bags and bags of designer clothes, all the while modestly draped head to toe in Burqa, exposing only her hands and (only sometimes) face! The Qur'an instructs both Muslim men and women to dress in a modest way, so I think it’s natural to question; where do they wear these clothes? Moreover, how do they survive in this heat? It’s one thing having your arms and legs covered, but it’s another having your entire face covered, and all in black fabric too. In another shop, I observed a woman selectively picking the sexiest, skimpiest underwear you could imagine, arm-in-arm with her husband… and his two other wives. I think its amazing how such orthodox traditions which are so strictly governed and upheld are still practiced alongside such western ways – such as shopping at the likes of FCUK and wearing kinky knickers!


Having said that, I greatly admire and respect their traditions and beliefs – their incredible dedication to their faith by way of modest dress, despite the roaring heat of Dubai’s climate is staggering – and has given me a new perspective and a more open mind. I’ve learnt much more than I initially knew about Islam; about their beliefs, values, way of life, history and traditions. It’s really not so ‘different’ than you may think. Although Islamic practices are more rigorous, I was surprised to learn that it really isn’t that dissimilar from any other belief system. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. In fact, during one of our shopping sprees, Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (the practice of formal prayer), played out loud on the PA, echoing a lingering and somewhat haunting cry.


Despite visiting all the tourist hot spots (such as the Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, The Burj Khalifa, The Burj al Arab, The Dubai Museum, Mahabra Mosque, Jumeirah Beach and more), the highlight of my entire stay was the Dessert Safari which took us four-wheel driving over the steepest sand dunes of the Arabian desert to a camp site in the middle of nowhere to enjoy camel-back riding by sunset, dune boarding, Hubbly Bubbly (shisha), henna and a traditional Arabic BBQ buffet followed by fresh date cakes and a fantastic display of traditional belly dancing. This is a must for anyone who plans to visit Dubai. I would highly recommend it and is worth every penny! Just as I thought it couldn’t get any hotter, it did – fortunately that wasn’t the only thing on my mind as I was holding on for dear life fearing the SUV would roll haha!!


All in all, I had the TIME OF MY LIFE going to Dubai. There was so much to do and see you can’t possibly fit it all in. You could honestly spend an entire week looking through Dubai Mall alone. There’s something for everyone in Dubai, not just the glitz and glamour of a modern city with all the frills, but a country that’s rich not only in oil, but in history, religion and culture. Go there - it'll be the best thing you've ever done!


Memories to last a lifetime.


Tags: burj al arab, burj khalifa, camel riding, dubai, dune safari, jumeirah beach, united arab emirates



Hi tizleilani

We really liked your story and decided to showcase it on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that others can enjoy it too.

Happy travels!

  Alicia Jun 20, 2011 10:52 AM


Dubai was amazing! Somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time even though it was very very hot haha. The dune safari was definitely a highlight!

  Tom Jun 22, 2011 10:38 PM


Whew, what a sizzling eperience, I feel like you took me on that journey personally, thoroughly captivating. More more....
Thank you Lani

  SHERYL BLACKWELL Jun 23, 2011 5:37 AM

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