Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to See Dubai Like a Local

I always feel at home. In fact the first blog I owned carried that name. Alway At Home in the world carries a special meaning for me. We try very hard to avoid tourist spots unless they are part of the bucket list we all carry with us. The places in Florence we saw were important to us before we left home and seeing them required standing in a line of tourist. It was worth every minute of our time. Dubai is the same. However we are trying to do what we do acting like it is part of everyday life. That my friend is a different experience than being a "tourist".

We visited the Palm here in Dubai yesterday traveling on the Metro from the airport through the city down the coast of the Persian Gulf. The Emirate has added land to the country in two spots creating a palm shaped land mass protected by a sea wall. The first of the two is a private area open only to people living in the area or those staying in the Burj El Arab. That particular hotel is so exclusive it has a 6* rating. (I did not know that was even possible). The second Palm is public and Atlantis Hotel sits at the top of the palm tree shaped area. Not far away the canal district which connects to the gulf is home to some of the most beautiful yachts I have ever seen. Some are several stories high.

Yacht Basin
This is the most modern and beautiful of all the Dubai that we have seen. Verdant green surrounds a lot of the area. The interesting thing is that this is the area where we saw the belief structure for the middle east come into play. On the monorail that supplements the Metro in this area there was a separate seating for women. On the other hand the women covered totally in the black robes are very uncommon.

I know that there are those of you that picture women totally covered from head to toe everywhere You will see groups out shopping in every mall you enter. But you need to realize that it is not required like it is in Saudi Arabia. The fact that the women in this country get to make a choice as to their modesty and reverence for their god is amazing and wonderful. The beauty I see is unparalleled. I have not seen henna except at a resort show. If the women are using it to decorate their bodies it is
not visible.

On our Metro ride we passed landmark structures like the one pictured below. The Burj Khalifa loomed over the downtown area.
One beautiful sky scraper after another passed the window as we traveled.
Metro lines clean, safe and are policed regularly. We loved the ride.
Taxis are cheap and regulated by a Rapid Transit Administration.
The country is beautiful.. We drove to a resort north along the coastline and had lunch at Trader Vics in a resort. We drove through the desert and saw herds of camels grazing alongside "Camel Crossing" signs and crossed a "camel guard" very like the ones we use in Eastern Oregon to keep cattle from wandering. The sand glistens and ripples in hues of gold and white.

Oddly enough we left Dubai and entered the Sharjah Emirate traveling north. As we left that part of the country we entered an Emirate that allows alcohol sales. We stopped to take a look at the ratty, isolated spot to find the parking lot for the store jammed and locals loading up. They were giving bottles of beer from Estonia away as a parting gift. It seemed very strange indeed.

Trader Vic's 
Even painted camels are fun!
No this is not "blue screened" in...we are really in the UAE desert!
I keep asking if a person ever gets used to seeing camels wandering about...the answer so far has been "NO".
We still marvel at the things that have morphed in order to fit into this world. There is a TGIT (Thank God It's Thursday) Restaurant in Beira. The biggest shopping souk in the area (The Blue Souk) is closed in Fridays, the Islamic day of rest but it simply feels like it is Sunday in the US. Magazines read from back to front but carry the same photos as the English speaking ones. Like the USA gas stations are everywhere but each one has it's very own mosque. Exhibits in museum have the information last, in the back corner of the room but carry English as well as Arabic. Time is measured in two dimensions, BC/AD or Islamic Hijri, but they are both noted. We are seeing that the world is very flat.

Have a wonderful day.



  1. Wow....your details and descriptions are amazing. I've never cared about Dubai as I thought it was rich man's playground......but nowmI'm intrigued! Your words and photos do indeed show the realness.......I abhor being a
    'tourist'too! I didn't realize you're traveling with your whole
    family!? How wonderful, Barb! Thanks for another
    great post!

    1. We are staying with our son here in Dubai. He is director of an international school. We were in Italy together staying in a very authentic Florentine apartment (a little ratty and very old). We do not always travel with family but our oldest grandson just finished an college with an Engineering Degree. It was a celebration of sorts. We all worked together to make this happen. I think of all the things we have done this ranks up there as 2 or 3. A trip to China 10 years ago was #1. #2 was a trip to Hong Kong, The Phillipines and Bangkok. We made that trip with our oldest son too.

      Thank you for your comment Joan. Welcome to me world!


  2. How wonderful that you were able to share such a milestone with your son. Dubai has always seemed a little out of reach to me. We are looking at Turkey, Tunisia and Greece next spring but we have family in Tunisia so, that will certainly get us set with the locals! Love your travel style and commentary. We noticed the variety of covered vs just scarves when we travelled in Indonesia a few years ago. More women than you would see in North America were the hijab but many just wear scarves. I never went anywhere without one - it was used to cover my head in the mosques, wipe the sweat from my brow in the sweltering humidity and dry my hands when I had no other option. Also came in handy as a shawl in the cold, air conditioned malls of downtown Jakarta!! I will definitely dropping by to read more!

    1. Eileen, I am just catching up on comments. I hope to visit Greece and maybe will add Tunisia to the agenda. We are getting older so we are feeling the pressure to do what we desire before it is too late. My husband will be 78 next spring! Yikes.


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