After Gold souk, we went near the Dubai Bus stand where our vehicle was waiting. (Nejamave Dubai bus-stand irukunga… Vivekanandhar theru dhan kedaikkalai L) While travelling from there, the travel guide showed us the Al Rasheed Port which was opened in 1979 and the Queen Elizabeth 1 (Q1) Ship and the he informed us that there is a proposal under consideration to convert the Queen Elizabeth ship into a Hotel and he also mentioned that during winter, the port is very busy with cruise liners i.e. from January to April every year. There are two ports in Dubai namely Al Rasheed Port and Jabel Ali Port.
Our next stop was at Jumeirah Big Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Dubai. We missed to be on time to go inside the mosque, so we took photographs outside the mosque and proceeded towards our next destination.
Thank you for your valuable comments and feedback. Hope you all enjoyed reading the first part. Now, here I come with the second part of the travelogue.
On the next day, i.e. 11th Sep 2010, we had a delicious breakfast at our hotel apartments and our group was ready for sightseeing by 09.30 hrs. The travel agent introduced us to the travel guide Mr. Wijay. He was a middle aged person, a Srilankan living in Dubai for almost 25 years.
|Breakfast at Le Meridien Hotel apartments|
We started from our hotel in a coaster and Mr. Wijay informed us that we were going to visit the Dubai Museum first. On the way, he was explaining that Dubai was the most popular country in the world and it is one of the Emirates of the UAE. There are totally seven Emirates which form the United Arab Emirates, being, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm-Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. Dubai’s population consists of 82% of expatriates and 18% of local people. On the way to Museum, we went through the Bur Dubai area, which is very famous for textiles and retail markets and the area where the Indian population is more.
|Dubai Museum - Entrance|
We reached the Dubai Museum, and the outer look was like an old fort and they have also displayed a few artilleries near the entrance. After obtaining the tickets we went around the museum. The museum invited us with several wall hangings explaining about the Dubai museum, a few pictures like the map of Dubai, the boating at Dubai creek etc. A lot of traditional boats, water tanks called Fintas were on display. We entered through a wooden door with sharp edges in it and we could see various items on display like the traditional musical instruments such as goat skin bagpipers called qirbahs, the percussion drums, the harp (tambura), rosewood pipes, wooden violins etc., the traditional arms and weapons used then like guns, leather cartridge belts, swords, axes etc., and displays of ironsmiths working.
|Displays at Dubai Museum|
We came out of another door and were taken down a circular pathway to the galleries. Here we were able to see the Map of Arabia as in 1570s by Abrahim Ortelieus, the history of Dubai (both in Arabic and English) at every decade with pictures and a video clipping about Dubai’s growth in the last decade. Next, we were able to witness the various traditional trades of Dubai with displays for the sea trade, fishing business, the Suq 1950, the Carpenter’s shop, the Herb and Spice Shop, the Polisher and Blacksmith’s shop, Pottery shop, Jeweller’s shop, Cloth shop, Tailor’s shop, Food shop. There were also displays for the Holy Quran classes and celebration of Tamwina, a graduation from Quran Class. Displays about the desert life, the Dates shops, pearl diving, fishing, dhow building, and traditional ornaments were also found.
|Displays at Dubai Museum|
The next section was the Archeology section with displays of various models of the excavations at Dubai, including a mangrove trunk which is 6000 years old, the ancient potteries, buildings excavated at Jumeriah (9th to 12th AD), the model of Archeological site of Jumeirah etc. Near the exit, there was a glittering shop displaying various traditional items.
The Gold Souk:
Our next destination was the gold souk. For reaching the Gold Souk we travelled back through Bur Dubai, which is very famous for wholesale and textile shops and large no. of Indian population. Our travel guide Mr. Wijay mentioned though Dubai is an Islamic country, there are lot of Churches and one Hindu temple. The day we went on city tour was actually Vinayaka Chathurthi day and we could see lots of people heading towards the Hindu temple in Bur Dubai area. We were surprised to see a man walking in the streets with the traditional panchakacham with a handful of flowers towards the temple, normally a very rare scene in a Gulf country.
|Water Taxi at Dubai Creek|
We had to cross the Dubai creek to reach the Gold Souk. Dubai Creek is the sea water which has come inland for around 14 kms naturally thereby separating Dubai into two parts. To cross the Dubai creek, either a boat, which is famously called as water taxi, can be used or by road, it can be crossed by a tunnel which was built in 1975 and is 175 meters long. We went in the water taxi to cross the creek. Once we reached the other side, we took a walk for around 10 minutes to reach the Gold souk. The travel guide told that the climate was better that day, but we were sweating even within those ten minutes; but it definitely was better than Kuwait. Dubai has only two climates, like any other Middle East countries, summer and winter. October to March is winter and April to September is summer. In summer, the highest humidity reaches up to 87% and winter has a good weather around 22 to 25 degree Celsius. Rain can be witnessed only once in a year usually during November, the maximum being only 12 cm.
We reached the Gold souk and Mr. Wijay allocated us half an hour for our shopping, the choice being ours, whether it is window shopping or actual shopping. Though the Gold souk is not a single mall, thankfully, it was entirely shaded. The guys were little reluctant to go on shopping at the Gold souk. Some women were successful in their actual shopping and some guys managed to restrict with window shopping, all purely the talent of the individuals J
Sightseeing on the way:
|Queen Elizabeth 1 (Q1) Ship at Al Rasheed Port|
On the way, we also viewed the Height Regency, one of the oldest hotels in Dubai and the special feature of this Hotel is that there is a revolving restaurant on the top.
The British had been ruling the country for nearly 148 years, from 1820 until 1968. Indian Rupees and Qatari Riyals were used in Dubai till 1971. The Federal Government in Dubai was started on 2nd December 1971 and eventually in 1972, they introduced the UAE Dirhams.
|Tunnel to cross the Dubai Creek|
This time we crossed the Dubai creek via the tunnel. The tunnel was beautifully lit with bright lights and serial lamps.
After crossing the creek, we were able to see the heritage village where more than 800 people who came from Liva Oasis settled down here during the 18th century and ruled by Al Maktoum family who rule Dubai emirates even today. Currently Dubai is ruled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum from January 4th, 2006.
There are two airports in Dubai being, Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, the latter being one of the largest airports named after Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a former ruler of Dubai. Dubai’s carrier is called the Emirates who have started a new budget airline called FlyDubai. The Emirates airlines was established in the year 1985 and at that time leased 2 aircrafts, but currently they own 147 aircrafts and have plans to buy another 400 aircrafts in the future. All the developments came in after Dubai discovered oil in 1966. However, Dubai’s income is only 5% from the oil, 30% from tourism and commerce and the balance from retails.
The Government has managed to make the city look greener with good irrigational facilities with drop water system (sottu neer paasanam?) The tap water is recycled sea water. Desalination plants are located in Jabel Ali providing tap water for Dubai.
|Jumeirah Big Mosque|
During the travel, Mr. Wijay also informed us that the Government of Dubai encourages to increase the local population and hence the citizen of Dubai gets 70,000 UAE Dirhams as gift when he gets married for the first time and several other benefits like free education, free medical facilities etc. The Islam religion allows a man to get married 4 times with the consent of his wife/wives. Our guys were eager in knowing if they would get the benefit also; but alas, they were upset to learn that it is available only for the citizens and not the expatriates J. The expatriates are not given citizenship and they are only allowed residency in the country.
There are around 40 shopping malls in Dubai, the major 5 of them being, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Wafi center, Bajuwan center and City Center. There are around 19 parks in Dubai and they try to maintain the city green, though it is a desert. Boat race, camel race & horse race are very famous in Dubai. Gambling is not allowed there. Golf clubs are quite popular as well.
Burj Al Arab Hotel & Jumeirah Beach:
|Burj Al Arab Hotel|
We visited the beautiful beach at Jumeirah with very mild waves and the scene really looked awesome with water in turquoise colour. We also had a view of Burj Al Arab Hotel from outside. Burj Al Arab means The Arab Tower and is built to resemble the sail of a dhow, a type of Arabian vessel. The hotel is situated in an artificial island and it has taken nearly three years to reclaim the land from the sea and another three years to complete the construction. The hotel has 28 double-storey floors and a total of 202 bedroom suites; the smallest suite has an area of 1820 sq. ft and the largest suite has an area of 8400 sq. ft. Hmm… Just imagine the size of the smallest suite; it is bigger than a normal three bedroom flat in Chennai!!! The Hotel also accommodates a helipad for the helicopter to land on the top floor.
|Jumeirah Beach Hotel|
The large Jumeirah beach hotel is also nearby the Jumeirah Beach. This hotel contains around 598 suites and 19 villas and is built in the shape of waves. Wild Wadi Water Park is found beside the hotel and the guests in the hotel have unlimited access to the water park. Since we did not have sufficient time to make a visit to the water park, we headed towards our next destination after a photographic session.
|Palm Island (Photo courtesy: Internet)|
We proceeded towards visiting the Palm Island, the artificial island built on the sea in the shape of a palm tree, resembling the tree trunk and 17 branches and a surrounding island like a crescent or an arch. The construction of this island was started in 2001 and completed in 2008. There are huge tunnels under the sea to visit the other side i.e. the arch, where the huge Atlantis Hotel is situated. Many Villas are found throughout the way, which are ready for sale. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and the famous football player David Beckhem have purchased villas in the Palm Island. We went up to Atlantis Hotel and had a beautiful sight of the sea and the travel guide showed us a spot in the midst of the sea that the world map island is being built there.
|Atlantis Hotel - Palm Island|
Dubai has a large number of tall buildings with most of them having more than 60 storeys. One sad thing which we could notice in Dubai was that almost every one of two buildings are vacant with “To Let” banners hanging outside; due to the economic crisis, Dubai has been affected very badly and many companies have been shut down and the expatriates had no choice but to fly back to their countries, which has made most of the buildings vacant and deserted.
With all these discussions we had our lunch in Hotel Aryaas at Al Kharama and then headed towards our hotel for rest. Yes, we needed rest badly as we wanted to recharge ourselves for enjoying the sail in Dhow cruise in the evening.
I am sure you would love to hear about my experience in the dhow cruise and other places, but please hold on till my next post. Till then, take care and bye.