After the madness of Dubai, it was back to calm ‘ol Abu Dhabi and more time with family. My mom wanted to show me the sands of Al Ain. So on a Sunday evening, we hired our usual taxi guy and headed outside Abu Dhabi.
After driving for nearly 45 minutes, we got off the main highway and I got out of the car.
The sands, once I got into them, were extremely fine and smooth.
They were so smooth that you could slowly slip in to the ground by just standing still for a few seconds.
Even though I’ve had enough sand in my face growing up in the Middle East, being here really was quite a splendid feeling. There were plans to go dune bashing in 4x4s but due to my friends being available only on Fridays made it a little tough to cram it in my already packed itinerary. I didn’t want to opt for a tourist package either ‘cos it was too corny for me.
After listening to hearsay tales from our taxi driver about desert snakes and other ‘dangerous’ reptiles, my father insisted that I don’t tread any further into the sand dune and asked me to get back in the car. Plus it was nearing sunset.
The next day…
Since I wasn’t going to sit idle at home, after lunch I took a taxi and headed to Abu Dhabi corniche.
After taking two Nepalis-driven taxis back-to-back, I got down near Corniche Road.
But I decided to take a stroll through the park on the other side of Corniche Road.
After a tiring previous day (and only hitting the bed at 4am), I got up early to receive my parents from Bur Dubai bus stand as they were visiting from Abu Dhabi. Since today and tomorrow were all going to be ‘family time,’ we were going to be staying with my father’s friend, in his nice, posh little flat in Karama.
Once we all landed at my father’s friend’s place post-lunch, we rested for some time before heading out.
It was back to Dubai Mall for me — but for my parents, despite having lived in Abu Dhabi for nearly an year, it was going to be their first time experiencing Dubai Aquarium and At The Top of Burj Khalifa.
First up, the aquarium:
For more photos and videos from inside Dubai Aquarium, check out my first post. Next up, we waited for our turn to go up the Burj Khalifa.
I had booked for an evening slot for the At The Top visit, hoping I could see Dubai all lit up. But as we got up, the sun was still very much above the horizon.
For more photos and videos from At The Top, check out my first post.
We finished our tour of Burj Khalifa, made our way out and to the Dubai Fountain site. The $200 million-plus Dubai Fountain is an attraction built on the artificial (duh) lake just outside Dubai Mall.
Built by the same people behind the famous Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, Dubai obviously had to up the ante. So these fountains shoot water up higher, 500 feet high (150 metres)!
Shows are every half an hour between 6pm to 10pm. Here’s the show I saw: Since it’s free, and since I can’t afford to go to Las Vegas just yet, this was great!
After the show, we made our way to the buses that drop visitors to the metro station.
The next day with my parents…
The next morning, I took my parents to Bur Dubai for some shopping and to show them around.
After showing them the souk station, I took them to the Hindu temple (photos of both can be seen in my first post).
And with that, we were done. Took a taxi and headed back to my father’s colleague’s place. He offered to drop us off near Jebel Ali power station, where we had been invited for lunch by our relatives.
Once again, it was a drive on Sheikh Zayed Road.
After lunch, we decided to check out Ibn Battuta Mall, which was nearby. This was the last major mall I had yet to see and the one my friends highly recommended, just because it was different.
The mall business in Dubai is, let’s just say, quite cut throat. For such a small state, Dubai has some of the largest malls in the world. And since just about every mall offers the same set of stores, mall operators come up with differentiators to draw the crowds in.
What’s the differentiator for Ibn Battuta Mall? For one (if you haven’t figured out already), it’s named after the great Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta. The entire mall is themed after his travels across China, India, Persia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Andalusia with a section dedicated to each zone.
We parked near the China entrance. Each of the sections have a lobby with a major attraction specific to that zone. This is what the China court looks like.
The main attraction here being a replica of a Chinese sailing ship supposedly used by Ibn Battuta in his travels.
From China, we then moved on to India.
From India into Persia. Persia Court’s big attraction is a replica of a Starbucks Coffee outlet*.
From Persia, you have two paths to Egypt.
And finally Andalusia.
With that, we had conquered all five regions of Ibn Battuta’s mall. So we made our journey back, passing by more displays.
Ibn Battuta Mall truly is a must-see in my opinion. It was a good move on Nakheel Properties’ part to use a theme like this to set the mall apart from Dubai’s other shopping centers.
Once out of Ibn Battuta Mall, we wished our relatives goodbye and took the metro to Bur Dubai bus stand. I was heading back to Abu Dhabi.
As we came out of the tunnel, to our right was our next stop.
Once we took a left and got on to “The Walk,” I pretty much knew why people throng to this place. It’s essentially Dubai’s ‘Exhibition Road’ (a once very popular stretch in Bahrain where traffic moves slowly and people, well, come to show off — among other things).
The Walk is part of Jumeirah Group’s massive property by Jumeirah beach. Lined along the stretch are shops, restaurants, hotels and the Jumeirah residences.
We finally managed to get a parking spot and while there were the usual luxury brands, given this is Dubai, one really needs something too rare to really stand out from the crowd.
And whoever was the owner of this Batmobile-esque Mercedes McLaren SLR, surely had it!
Freakin’ sweet. A supercar indeed!
After watching the sun set, we went back to the parking lot.
Since it was time sunset prayer, Azhad and Jassim made their way to the prayer hall like good muslims, while I waited out looking at the slow moving traffic.
After prayers, we moved on.
Jassim told me that we needed to crossed over to the other side as he wanted to show me something. I didn’t really know what or why but I figured it would be more buildings.
It was buildings alright…. but I never expected this!
I really wasn’t expecting a sight like this in, of all the places, Dubai. I was looking forward to seeing all this when I go to Singapore in September and in Hong Kong next year, but in the middle of a freaking desert? Wow.
Now I get what Dubai Marina is all about. It’s like the guys at Emaar Properties (the same folks behind Burj Khalifa) visited Marina Bay in Singapore and Hong Kong’s Kowloon Bay and went: “Hmmm, very bretty… very nice… we like… we want also.* ”
And then came back, spent a few billion, dug out a lot of sand and half a decade later — voila!
After being mighty impressed with the world’s largest man-made marina, we headed back to ‘show-off boulevard’.
We set off into town and made our way to the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue for tonight’s David Guetta’s concert.
Upon reaching the venue, we figured we still had some time to enter so we decided to do dinner. Jassim parked his car near Emirates Towers and we made our way to Nando’s.
Me and Jassim had a good meal, Azhad didn’t 🙂 … and wanted to get home quick!
So after seeing our friend off at the metro, me and Jassim went back to the car to get ready for ‘the party’.
After finding a parking spot, we walked towards to the concert hall where there were a lot of guys with heavily waxed hair and girls with heavily waxed skins.
And boy were we glad we bought our tickets well in advance! The show was sold out and many were around seeking extra tickets. We got in around 11pm where an opening DJ was was warming up the crowd.
The man himself didn’t hit the stage until 1am. And just when he was about to… disappointment. My Nokia E72 with the 5 mega-pixel camera dies out on me. All I’m left with is my mom’s basic 2mpx Nokia and even that was low on battery.
Sorry, but these grainy photos are all I have. (Some are from my friend Jassim’s iPhone)
Grainy photos won’t do the concert justice, so just watch this if you want to know what the atmosphere was like:
To sum in up in one word: AWESOME! This was one of the best concerts I have been to. The crowd was insane! Over 10,000 people packed into one massive hall. And I would so pay to see David Guetta live again!
David Guetta left the stage exactly at 3am, the time when all of Dubai has to shut off it’s loud music and stop the sale of liqour.
By the time we reached the car, our legs were tired as hell! This was one packed-evening/night/dawn. I saw a lot, ate a lot and danced a lot.