Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dubai - Burj Khalifa, Dunes, sand boarding, beach and Malls

The difference between Cairo airport and Dubai airport is like the difference between earth to the sky! 

Dubai airport is super new, shiny, the imigration is fast and efficient. They even have very professional and nice looking immigration officers wearing the "Thobe" (a loose, ankle-length robe) and a "Guthra" (white or red and white checkered cloth on the head) and they offer mints!

Something like this so you get the idea ;)

In Dubai, we had a few must sees. One of them being the top of the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world as of now -2015). 

The actual entrance to the building is inside of Dubai Mall, which is also the biggest mall in the world as of now. 

Inside you can find the famous waterfalls sculptures, an ice skating rink, an amazing aquarium, and all kinds of stores and restaurants as you can imagine!

The views are amazing, you can go up to the 124 floor and the from there take another elevator to the 148 floor. 

There is an open section, however, it is covered by high glass. The ticket is quite expensive around 500 Emirati Dirham ($140 USD per person) so it's one of those one time things to do.

Also, you can't miss the fountain show at the bottom of the Burj Khalifa, which is like the fountains show in Vegas at the Belagio, but bigger and featuring Arabian music of course.

We usually don't go to malls while traveling as we prefer to purchase local stuff, however, the Emiratis have made the malls an actual tourist attaction. 

In general the UAE (United Arab Emirates) aims to have the best of the best. Even Emirates Airlines is considered one of the best airlines in the world and as we flew with them we could see why. The seats are bigger and more confortable, they offer all kinds of movies in many different languages for free, they offer a menu selection and any soft or alcoholic drink included, plus 2 bags per person + carry-on included and fast check in... So yeah, It's great!

Speaking of trasportation, the metro in Dubai is also pretty good and very easy to navigate with the exception of some rules they have. It's prohibited to eat or drink on it, you can't chew gum, which is a good idea as they keep it very clean. 

They also have a "gold member" wagon, and another wagon specifically for women and children. 

As our first day on it, we happened to jump into the women and children wagon. I started reading the signs which said "Are you in the right place?" We quickly looked around and David was the only man in there. An Arab woman quickly told us to move to the next wagon, so we did.

On the floor of the next wagon there was a pink line that divides the women and children section from the regular ones. All the men were packed in there like sardines. While there was a lot of room in the women's section across the line. Haha!

People were cramping up as they enter the metro and David was getting push so literally one foot was crossing the pink line. An Arab woman came and started asking for tickets and ID to fine the guys that were crossing the line. She asked David for passport or ID to fine him! He of course said -"this is ridiculous I had one foot out!"  Well she didn't like that - and she told us and the other guys to get off the metro and to accompanied her to the office station.

I couldn't believe it, she fined each men 120 Emirati Dirham ($32 USD) and they paid.  Of course we didn't think it was fair, so we politely talked to the police officer there and the manager and he let us go without paying while the woman was not looking :) "Ask and you shall receive" no matter which culture it is, there is always a way to solve situations by dialog. 

The metro also takes you to the palm beaches like  Jumeriah beach and Barasti beachThese places have public beaches and sell alcohol. In Dubai alcoholic drinks are not sold anywhere other than bars and hotels. 

Le Meriden hotel built a nice section on their beach with a huge indoor tent, a big screen, out door bar and dance floor in front of the beach, of course you got to pay the price (about $40 USD for a bucket of coronas). 

The place is really fun and it's is packed with a great vibe! We danced the whole night!

Enough of parting and let's go to the big highlight, which is the Buggy rides in the Dunes and sand boarding! 

We found a tour on trip advisor (Arabian expedition Dubai) that was great! They took us to the dunes (sand mountains in the desert) about 1 hour and a half north east from Dubai by car.

             "Camels on the road"

there was a sand storm which I had never seen in my life.

Thankfully once we got in the buggys and got into the deepest of the desert we missed the storm and the views were completely stunning! 

The drive was super fun and exciting!! As it feels that the car could flip any moment, but thankfully it didn't :)

The only color helmets the have were pink and that doesn't take away the madness of this ride!

After driving at the top of some hill we did sand boarding, really cool and I happen to be very good at it too!

The worst part is walking back up the hill in the sand, it is a full work out!

On the other hand I got to see one of my friends that I met 9 years ago when I first arrive to the USA to start my internship. We went to the Emirates Mall, which has a snow boarding indoors. (The place is huge) Anyways, he is from Turkey but lives in Dubai and has so the last few years. It was interesting to learn a little bit of the culture there. For example, he said that Emirates can't and don't marry anyone that is not an Emirate. In fact, Emirates usually dont hang out with people from other counties. Even if you live in the UAE for ever you can't become an Emirates citizen, you can only be a resident. 

Dubai was spectacular and we will definitely go back, but for now we are headed to Beijing!! Thanks for reading!!

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