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Palm Islands Jumeirah Atlantis hotel Dubai

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

Date: 9th April 2010

Today was going to be one heck of an ‘out-&-about’ day. My friend Jassim was free to drive me around and show me the parts of Dubai (as of the above date) the metro service hasn’t covered yet. After all the sight-seeing, we were then going to close out the night with one of the biggest events of this trip — catching David Guetta’s performance in Dubai!

But first, the day.

The morning started out slow and I was mostly indoors. As for lunch, Azhad decided to treat me to a local experience. So we headed to Al Rigga road in Deira.

Golden Fish restaurant Deira Dubai
The Russians must love shrimp
Chinese union society Deira Dubai
The Chinese presence in Dubai is exponential

Deira parking lotDeira small mosque DubaiThe restaurant was Bait Al Mandi, a popular Yemeni joint.

Bait Al-Mandi restaurant Deira DubaiWhat’s unique about this place? Well, they serve Al Mandi — essentially meat on top of flavoured rice. You might be thinking biriyani. but you’ll get a better picture once you see the photos.

We sat upstairs, where you had individuals cabins in which you sit down on the floor.

Inside Bait Al-Mandi Deira Dubai Mithun
That's me
Inside Bait Al-Mandi Deira Dubai slippers
Slippers outside
Bait Al-Mandi chicken mutton rice
Food inside

The meal consists of a lentil soup (which was lovely), an entire cup of curd,  and the main dish itself — be it mutton or chicken. And yes, that is an entire half chicken you see above.

Bait Al-Mandi Deira Dubai Azhad
Thumbs up on the food alright

Just that… it was too much! We couldn’t finish all the meat. And the amazing thing is, all this costs less than Dhs 50 (Rs. 600/$13/€11). You can’t ask for a more filling meal in Dubai.

Once we were (partly) done with our heavy lunch, our friend Jassim arrived to pick us up. He had a plan in mind (since he’s done these ‘tours’ for visiting family) and we began our drive.

Dubai clock tower roundabout
Before all the buildings, this was once Dubai's most iconic landmark

Dubai flyover constructionDubai flyover intersection landscaping artDubai flyover underpass art

Dubai Honda showroom building to-let
Dubai Festival City in the distance

Al Badia Hillside Village

We made a quick stop at the Al Badia Golf Club — an impressive, built completely from the ground up, golf course.

Al Badia golf club DubaiAl Badia Golf club dubai lakeRoundabout near Al Badia golf clubWe moved on shortly after.

Dubai flyover roadDubai flyover street lightsDubai flyover road building constructionDubai skyline buildings afternoon

Dubai skyline buildings afternoon Burj Khalifa
Never tired of Dubai's skyline

Dubai flyover towards Sheikh Zyed roadDubai flyover towards Burj Khalifa

Sheikh Zayed buildings Dubai
(Took these photos from inside the car)

Buildings road behind Sheikh Zayed Dubai Buildings road behind Sheikh Zayed Dubai Rotana

DIFC village office building Dubai
The Dubai International Financial Centre

DIFC village office building DubaiSheikh Zayed Dubai office buildings

Dubai Rotana tower

Sheikh Zayed buildings

Sheikh Zayed LG old building
This is the oldest building on Sheikh Zayed Road

We then made a brief stop at the gas station to stock up on junk food.

Eppco petrol station dubaiEppco donuts Dubai

Vimto light can drink Dubai Eppco
Ahhh Vimto, how I missed you. (Now available in 'Light')

After stocking up, Jassim then took us to Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Road to Jumeirah Dubai

Jumeirah traffic lightSouk Madinat Jumeirah entrance Dubai

The souk is the shopping mall attached to the Madinat Jumeirah resort, an impressive resort offering from the Jumeirah Group — the owners of the iconic Burj Al Arab.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah Burj Al Arab DubaiYes, this yet another mall and I thought I was done with malls because once you’ve seen the biggest and the best, it takes a lot to interest you in another. But Jassim assured me this was a mall that was quite different from the others.

Madinat Jumeirah in Arabic translates to ‘City of Jumeirah’ and is resort complex designed keeping in mind old Arab architecture. It houses two hotels, several restaurants and a few hundred stores.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah elevator
From the elevators...
Souk Madinat Jumeirah hall way stores
... to the mall,
Souk Madinat Jumeirah water
... the place tries to invoke an 'old Arabia' atmosphere

We just did a roam-around of the mall.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah hall Jassim
(That's our friend Jassim)

Souk Madinat Jumeirah courtyard waterwaysSouk Madinat Jumeirah bridgeSouk Madinat Jumeirah Jassim AzhadSouk Madinat Jumeirah cooling vents old Arab architectureSouk Madinat Jumeirah Cinnabon DubaiSouk Madinat Jumeirah outside cartsSouk Madinat Jumeirah outside shop carts

Souk Madinat Jumeirah coffee shop restaurant boats
Madinat Jumeirah is a very popular wedding venue too
Souk Madinat Jumeirah bridge abra dock
There are traditional abras to take guests for rides around the water way

Souk Madinat Jumeirah bridge Burj Al ArabSouk Madinat Jumeirah restaurant waterway

Souk Madinat Jumeirah waterway Mithun Burj Al Arab
The obligatory 'You know i'm in Dubai because you can see the Burj Al Arab in the background' photo

Souk Madinat Jumeirah mall DubaiSouk Madinat Jumeirah roof wooden ceilingOf all the malls I’ve been to in Dubai, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah really stands out as one of the best. It really is a great place to visit, be it for a date or a casual hangout. Plenty of restaurant options and you really can’t beat the setting.

With that, we were done.

Jumeirah road towards Dubai MarinaUp next was another landmark of Dubai — and one that is best seen from the sky.

But since we couldn’t afford a helicopter ride, we had to see The Palm Jumeirah islands from the ground.

Road to Palm Islands JumeirahPalm Islands Jumeirah trunk empty apartmentsPalm Islands Jumeirah empty apartmentsWe drove past a lot of (what looked liked to me) empty apartments. To the left of the above photo was the proposed Trump Tower, now on hold.

We were heading towards to tip of The Palm Islands to see the famed Atlantis resort.

Palm Islands Jumeirah monorail Atlantis hotel Dubai

Road to Palm Islands Jumeirah monorail

Palm Islands Jumeirah tunnel to Atlantis hotel Dubai
And then you go under water

Palm Islands Jumeirah tunnel to Atlantis hotel Dubai GPSPalm Islands jumeirah getting to Atlantis hotel Dubai

Palm Islands Jumeirah Atlantis hotel Dubai
Parking was a bit of a problem so I couldn't spend too much time outside the car

Palm Islands Jumeirah Atlantis hotel Dubai Filipino women

Palm Islands Jumeirah Atlantis hotel Big Bus Dubai
Very much a major tourist attraction in Dubai

Palm Islands Jumeirah Atlantis hotel sea boatThere’s a lot more to Atlantis The Palm than it’s exterior — but to enter the hotel, unless you are guest, you have to pay an entrance fee. I wasn’t too bothered because we had still more on ‘Jassim’s planned drive tour’ of Dubai’s hotspots.

So we made our way back to the ‘mainland’.

Palm Islands tunnel to Atlantis hotel Dubai cars
Read Part 2 here.


Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

Burj Khalifa Dubai steel morning

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

Date: 7th April, 2010

(This is a continuation of Part 1)

Once you are allowed in past the At The Top ticket counter, you wait at the lobby until it’s time for you go up.

Dubai Mall At The Top entrance

At the lobby are some facts, figures and interactive displays comparing the Burj Khalifa to other tall structures around the world.

Burj Khalifa lobby London displayDubai Mall Burj Khalifa lobby San Fransisco displayIn the above display, you choose a location (it’s a touch screen) and it then shows you a simulation of what the Burj Khalifa would look like in that chosen landscape.

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa lobby structures comparison
Compared to other tall buildings from around the world

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa lobby displayWhen it was time, I went through security and made my way to the lift. (Oh yeah, the lift is the fastest in the world.)

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa escalator displayThere are other displays en route to the lift.

Burj Khalifa observation deck 124th floor
I didn’t align this right but if you get it all in the center, it points to the 124th floor — which is where the observation deck is
Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa At the Top message
Behind the tape: “I *was* Burj Dubai”

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa escalatorI queued for the lift (there’s two) and it wasn’t a capsule (or glass) lift so you can’t see how fast you are going. The feeling was just amazing (video is below)! You hardly feel anything. The noise is cut out due to the music that plays and the only indication you are going up at 64kmph is that you feel like something is pushing down on you.

Also, the ride takes less than 30 seconds.

And then, you step out.

Burj Khalifa observation deck
The observation deck
Dubai Mall from top Burj Khalifa observation deck
Dubai Mall from up above
Sheikh Zayed road panorama from Burj Khalifa
That’s Dubai: tall buildings and sand. (Panorama comprised of 7 shots)
Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa At the Top view fountain
That weird design in the pool is the base of Dubai Fountain

I walked around to take in views from every angle.

Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa observation deck pillars

Burj Khalifa The World project
There was a slight dust storm that day but what you see in the distance is The World islands
Burj Khalifa observation deck zoom viewer
These digital telescopes give you an accurate simulation of what the view would be at day and at night
Burj Khalifa Downtown Dubai construction
The Downtown Dubai construction site
Burj Khalifa Downtown Dubai desert
There’s a lot of empty land still left in Dubai

(Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article to see the HD video I made)

After the tour, I got into an empty lift going down.

Burj Khalifa inside the fastest elevatorBurj Khalifa inside fastest elevator screens

But pictures aren’t as cool as an HD video right?

Once out, there was more to see.

The making of Burj KhalifaThe making of Burj Khalifa displays

Burj Khalifa Downtoun Dubai project
The (planned) Downtoun Dubai project
Burj Khalifa various design changes
The design (& height) changes Burj Khalifa went through
Downtown Dubai buildings fountain
Looking out
At the Top people behind Burj Khalifa
A few people behind this massive project get a mention too
Burj Khalifa Shebbir Ahmed workers
“Edaa Shebbiru…!”

Burj Khalifa exit walkalator

Burj Khalifa exit walkalator lcds
And with that, the tour ends

You come out near the At The Top ticket counter itself.

Burj Khalifa At the Top ticket counter

Burj Khalifa At the Top sold out
This is why you need to be in early or book well in advance
Dubai Mall Dior stairs ceiling art
Wow, even the ‘under-the-escalators’ get attention

It was past 5pm by this time and I had initially planned on waiting for the Dubai Fountain show which begins at sunset.

But my legs were aching!

All that walking around, with my camera bag… my body couldn’t take it anymore. So I decided to catch the fountain show the next time I would be coming here — which would be 2 days from now.

Burj Khalifa shadow sunlightDubai Mall hole building

Outside Dubai Mall towards metro
Making my way back to the metro station

Burj Khalifa Downtown Dubai building reflection

Dubai Metro inside
Inside the driver-less Dubai Metro

After heading back to Azhad’s room, I gave my legs a rest before heading out again at night. I had dinner plans with a friend, Payal, from my school days who shifted from Bahrain to Dubai a few years ago.

We met up at BurJuman Shopping Center from where we weighed in our dinner options.

Payal inside Honda Civic Dubai
Payal’s book of infinite choices (& discount coupons)

She took me to Wafi City — one of the more interesting real estate projects in Dubai city. A mixed use complex which houses a mall (duh), residences, and a Raffles hotel.

Wafi mall pyramids Citibank Dubai
The Raffles Dubai hotel is the pyramid in the center

What makes Wafi unique is that the whole place is themed around ancient Egypt.

Wafi Mall Eqytian pyramid carsWe first checked out the mall a bit.

Wafi Mall egyptian pillars escalators

Wafi Mall glass pillar ceiling
Not sure if this was a part of Egyptian history, but looks cool anyway.

Wafi Mall inside ceilingWafi Mall roof ceiling Egyptian artWafi Mall roof ceiling Egyptian artWafi Mall city Raffles hotel lobbyWe walked past Asha’s and ended up sitting down at Mahi Mahi, a seafood restaurant and a favourite of Payal’s.

We sat out at the balcony and I would advice anyone to do so if the weather permits — the setting is great.

Wafi Mall Egyptian statues car parking

Wafi Mall panorama Dubai
A panorama comprised of 7 shots
Wafi Mall restaurant chandlier
The ambiance inside Mahi Mahi isn’t bad either

Our dinner conversation ranged from the extreme superficiality of people in Dubai to Payal’s Las Vegas plans to my travel plans for this year. (Yes, I will be travelling again later this year)

Wafi Mall restaurant dinner payal
My friend Payal
Wafi Mall restaurant Thai dinner
Our (mostly) seafood dinner

Mahi Mahi is a slightly upscale joint but the portions and food are well worth the price. You can’t beat the night time atmosphere either.

Wafi Mall columnsWafi Mall pillars steps

Wafi Mall seafood restaurant
The seafood is very fresh

By 11pm, we left Wafi City (after a bit of Lebanese sweets-shopping).

Dubai felt quiet for some time that night.

Dubai at night traffic inside CivicBut once Payal dropped me back in Deira, the signs of life were still buzzing even as today came to an end.

I went back to the room, knackered. Absolutely knackered.

After yesterday’s tiring walk and today’s exploration of Dubai Mall, my legs were crying for rest. Tomorrow was going to be more mall hopping and meeting another friend for dinner.

All said and done, I got what I came for. I was very happy with the photos and it was well worth it.

(Now you know why I took so long on these posts.)

P.S: Here’s the HD video tour of the Burj Khalifa, enjoy:


Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Mall of Emirates and Times Square Center

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

Date: 7th April, 2010

After a tiring walk around Bur Dubai the previous day, I had to give my feet some rest.

But I was just too damn excited about today. And so, as Azhad headed off to work early in the morning, I too got ready to set out early for the Downtown Dubai site.

I took the metro (from Union Station) to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall (of course they were going to get their own stop). As soon as I stepped out…

Burj Khalifa from Metro Station
… there it was!

It really is a beauty, unlike the last building that earned the title “tallest building in the world”.

There’s a bit of a walk to be had to get to Dubai Mall (there’s a bus service too but I chose to walk just to see the surroundings)

Burj Khalifa Emaar site offices Downtown Dubai
EMAAR is the company behind the Downtown Dubai
Burj Khalifa surrounding office buildings
Offices, (empty) offices, and more (empty) offices everywhere…
Burj Khalifa construction worker Dubai
Thousands of people like him build that

Dubai Mall man suit palm treesSignal outside Dubai Mall workersI got into Dubai Mall through the parking lot — because I couldn’t find any other entrance that side.

Dubai Mall architecture

Dubai Mall parking space lot
Parking capacity: 14,000 cars

I had gotten to Dubai Mall quite early. Most stores hadn’t opened or were just waiting for the first customer to walk in. I was going to check out the mall of course, but first things first. I wanted to buy tickets for the observation deck on Burj Khalifa. The observation deck was closed just a few weeks after it had opened due to some technical snags. It had re-opened only a week before, so I knew there was going to be a mad rush for the tickets.

But finding the ticket counter for At The Top proved a bit difficult (at first). Since there wasn’t anyone at the information desks, I simply followed the signs out to the Burj Khalifa thinking, well, that the counter would be at the ground floor of the Burj Khalifa itself.

Burj Khalifa Dubai steel morning
What US$1.5 billion gets you
Downtown Dubai The Address old town
The Address hotel on the left
Dubai Mall The Address panorama
A panorama comprised of 5 photos

Problem is, when I tried to get to the entrance of the Burj Khalifa, that didn’t seem possible either. Everything was cordoned off due to construction work still going on or was restricted access. I asked around but ended up back inside Dubai Mall.

Once inside, I finally found a security guard and asked him how I could get to the At the Top counter.

Dubai Mall Ermenegildo Zegna
I followed his directions and took the lift near the Ermenegildo Zegna store

I was instructed to go to the food court at the ground floor.

Dubai Mall Caribou Coffee At the Top ticket counter

The ticket counter only opens at 10am but at 9:45am, a few had already started a queue. I asked if tickets were available for the morning but they said only ‘Immediate Entry’ tickets were available.

You see, they have two types of tickets. The regular admission ticket costs Dhs 100 (Rs. 1200/US$27/€21) but needs to be booked a few hours/days in advance. But if you need to see it “immediately” or (truth be told) just show up at the ticket counter, you have to pay Dhs 400 (Rs. 5,100/US$108/€86) if you wish to go in then itself.

I ended up buying tickets for the 4:00pm slot (they let people in every 30 minutes) and also three tickets for a later date.

And now that I had plenty of time to kill until then, I began checking out the empty mall.

Dubai Mall basement storesBut as I got up to the first floor, I got distracted by the Dubai Aquarium. So I bought the Dhs 50 (Rs. 630/US$13/€10) ticket to see the largest (& probably the only) indoor aquarium in the Middle East. (The Dhs 50 ticket is the aquarium plus the Underwater Zoo. The standalone ticket for the Aquarium is Dhs 25)

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass
This holds the Guinness Record for the ‘World’s Largest Acrylic Panel’
Dubai Mall Aquarium glass reflection
There’s over 30,000 species of fish in this tank (or so they claim)

And then you enter the tunnel.

Dubai Mall Aquarium insideDubai Mall Aquarium dome sharks

Dubai Mall Aquarium baby sharks
They have a lot of sharks…

Dubai Mall Aquarium Sting rays

Dubai Mall Aquarium Stingray
… and a few stingrays

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass domeYou can check out the HD video I took here:

Once you step out the tunnel, the path takes you past souvenirs and a themed restaurant.

Dubai Mall jungle theme restaurant… before leading out to the escalator that takes you up to the first floor.

There, you find the entrance to the Underwater Zoo.

Dubai Mall Aquarium Underwater zoo

Dubai Aquarium underwater zoo otter
Otters
Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo water rat
Water rats

Dubai Mall Aquarium Underwater zoo water rats

Dubai Mall Aquarium Lionfish raysDubai Mall Aquarium goldfish

Dubai Mall aquarium Dory Marlin
Dory and Marlin are still friends^, awwwww…

Dubai Mall Aquarium clown fish volcanoDubai Mall Aquarium fish eye

Dubai Mall Aquarium rainforest facts

Dubai Mall Aquarium school tour
The operations at the back

The aquarium was obviously very popular for school kids.

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguins workerDubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguins swimmingDubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguin staring

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo jellyfish
Jellyfish
Dubai Mall Aquarium eels
Eels

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo garden eels

Dubai Mall underwater zoo coming attractions
There’s more coming

Here’s a video I took:

Dubai Mall Aquarium from top
From outside the Underwater Zoo

Dubai Mall Aquarium touristsAfter that, I checked out the rest of the mall.

Dubai Mall floors Versace storeDubai Mall Joseph Joes cafeDubai Mall interiors ceilingDubai Mall Bloomingdales store

Dubai Mall Pucci store
Pucci: Poor man’s Gucci*

*not really

Dubai Mall Harman House showroomDubai Mall Sony showroomDubai Mall ceiling sunlightDubai Mall waterfallDubai Mall souk Harley DavidsonDubai Mall KidzaniaDubai Mall Exoto Tifosi Circle8 shopDubai Mall Sega RepublicDubai Mall Crocs Asics

Dubai Mall Wooden floor lobby
If there ever was a material used in construction, you’ll find it used for Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall chandelier domeDubai Mall Sephora JumboDubai Mall botique runway digital screenDubai Mall ground floor ceilingDubai Mall UAE flag lobby entrance

Dubai Mall sofa rest stops
It took advantage of these everywhere around the mall

After nearly an hour of window shopping, I decided to have lunch at the food court at the basement, near the At The Top counter.

Dubai Mall Fatburger beef
Lunch was at Fatburger, which I never tried before

The burger was okay, nothing exceptional. Of course, I only had the regular beef burger. (Not really ‘Fat’, just regular)

After lunch, it was back to roaming around a bit more. This time I explored the Gold Souk.

Dubai Mall Gold SoukAs the name suggests, this is the section of the mall dedicated to just gold stores and other pricey items.

Dubai Mall Gold souk ceiling chandlier

Dubai Mall Gold souk tree open spaceDubai Mall gold souk treeIt was also the quietest part of the mall.

Dubai Mall gold souk shopsGiven the high price of gold now and the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of folks shopping anyway, it wasn’t surprising to see very few customers walk through these corridors.

Dubai Mall Gold souk chandelierDubai Mall Gold souk lit up domeDubai Mall gold souk shoppers

And with that, I was out.

Dubai Mall chairs fountain waterfallDubai Mall Element Roadster DinerI also walked past the only Olympic-sized Ice Rink in the Middle East.

Dubai Mall ice skating rink OlympicDubai Mall ice skating rink Olympic Reel CinemasIt was 3:30pm by this time, so I decided to make my way back to the lower basement.

Dubai Mall lower basement escalatorsI waited near the At The Top counter for my turn to get in

Dubai Mall At The Top gift store
The At The Top gift shop

(This is just part 1 of what I saw today, part 2 is when I went up to the Burj Khalifa observation desk)

[^ ‘Finding Nemo‘ reference]


Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Mall of Emirates and Times Square Center

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

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