My second-to-last stop was in UAE. I stayed mainly in Dubai but I was also able to visit Abu Dhabi for a day.
The friend I stayed with lived within walking distance to the marina and beach so I was close to nightlife and other activities.
UAE turned 45 in 2016 and as such a young country I think people are too hard on it. Yes, it is not historical and there are a lot of attractions that are meant to attract tourists but it is also beautiful and open and accepting of foreigners.
I, of course, visited the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It was actually pretty cool. Just like you’re not allowed to fly for at least 12 hours after you scuba dive, you also can’t go to the top of the Burj Khalifa without waiting at least 12 hours. Basically, it gets some serious altitude.
My favorite part was looking down on the city from above.
We also caught the water show that night at the Dubai Fountain at the base of the Burj Khalifa.
Next was Abu Dhabi. We watched the sun set from the observation deck at 300, which offered a view of the Presidential Palace grounds, and then I had one of the best meals of my life at the Emirates Palace outdoor BBQ restaurant.
From there we visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Since the Muslim faith follows the Lunar calendar, the Mosque is lit a different color depending on the moon cycle.
Never have I seen such attention to detail, no-expense-spared, lavish structure. The carpets were hand sewn in Iran and then brought to the Mosque to piece together, the chandeliers were made of Swarovski crystal, hand pieced marble covered the floors – no detail was too insignificant to be overlooked.
Since the Burj Al-Arab is hard to get into without a room or restaurant reservation, we decided to dine there. We had lunch at the seafood restaurant with a live exotic fish tank in the middle. The Burj Al-Arab is one of the most expensive hotels in the world and although I did not get a look inside the rooms, everything else there was on par with what you might expect from a hotel with that reputation.
After lunch, we visited Old Dubai, the Dubai Museum, the City of Gold and took a river cruise. Pearl diving was the primary source of income in Dubai before it became the city it is today. That occupation is still in existence but is not as prevalent as in past times.
Of course I visited the beach, the beach walk and experienced a Dubai brunch. All of which were lovely. I also visited the Princess Towers – the tallest residential building in the world, for now. I have to say – the views in Dubai are not to be beat. They love their tall buildings.
Next stop – Istanbul.