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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Journey to Dubai #3

So Hatta was supposed to be a typical Emirati town up in the mountains, with cool temperatures and decent amenities.

And after returning from Hatta, Tariq was kind enough to drop me off in Old Dubai so I could look around on my own for a while; the section of the city near Dubai creek has retained a certain amount of its original character. This was a welcome change for me because the new bits of Dubai have as much in common with the real Arab world as Las Vegas has with the rest of America.

So I wandered solo through old Dubai (note the minaret) which immediately surrounds both banks of Dubai Creek; I had a look around the various souks and there were plenty of decent places to sit-down for thick coffee.

And if you happened to be gripped by the sudden urge to buy a stack of Krugerrands and a tiara (who doesn't get such an urge from time to time?), then old Dubai's Gold Souk would be just the place for you!

I also took a little dhow trip across Dubai Creek.

Finally, here's another shot of the Burj Khalifa. Just for kicks, man.

So that just about sums-up my trip to Dubai. This weekend, the wife and I will be off to Denmark and Sweden, so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Journey to Dubai #2

On my first free weekend, I really wanted to see the Musandam peninsula. Musandam is an Omani enclave which juts out into the Strait of Hormuz. Geologically, it's a submerged mountain range and it's supposed to be one of the best scenic areas in the Persian Gulf. It's often likened to an Arabian version of the Norwegian coast; some villages of the peninsula are so remote, they can only be accessed by sea.

I really wanted to take a dhow
Alas, the wind was too high on the day I wanted to go; sailing permits were unobtainable. That's when I tried my Plan B: driving-out to a little UAE village called Hatta in the Hajjar mountains, going through a little slice of Oman along the way.

I liked driving on the dunes so much, I did it again. Thanks to my loyal Pakistani diver, Tariq, we managed to avoid getting stuck or tipping-over.

And within an hour, we were on our way through the Hajjar mountains.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Journey to Dubai #1

I know it's taken a while for me to get another post-up, seeing as how things have been way too busy for me over the past few months. Anyway, here's a quick run-down of Dubai.

Due to the conference organizers' decision to change the venue a mere week before, for Pete's sake, my hotel was located in the middle of nowhere. Out in the 'new' section of Dubai. So new, the neighborhood hadn't even been built. You can't get newer than that, I suppose.

The hotel. Not many eateries around.

Despite the frustrations stemming from the location, I had to say that Dubai was one of the most interesting places I've ever seen and I would absolutely jump at the chance to go back. The food alone made it worthwhile.

Pine nuts in hummus?! What sorcery is this??

And you'd better believe that I was enjoying my spare time to the fullest whenever I could get-away from the conference. One thing I really, really wanted to do was a bit of four-wheelin' in the desert...

...but it wasn't all fun and games, as these unlucky souls were soon to discover...