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dubai

Dubai creek abra Bur Dubai dock

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

Date: 6th April, 2010

After visiting Sheikh Zayed mosque, it’s not that I was done with Abu Dhabi or anything. I was going to come back to be with family, spend some time around the creek and visit the Yas Marina circuit.

But today, I was off to Dubai! Mostly to meet friends and to see the ‘heights of insanity’ Dubai’s reached in the past few years. I was going to visit all the famous buildings (because let’s face it, what else is there to see in Dubai?) and I was also looking forward to the David Guetta concert!


So yeah, a lot planned — and I was excited!

Post lunch, my uncle dropped me at the Abu Dhabi bus station from where I boarded the bus to Dubai (Dhs 15 = Rs. 180/US$4/€3)

The bus was, well…

Bus ride Abu dhabi to Dubai
... very nice!

Those monitors display the pristine condition UAE’s roads are in… if that’s your thing. No other in-bus entertainment, unlike Thailand.

The journey was expected to take around 1 and 1/2 hours.

Sheikh Zayed bridge construction Abu Dhabi
The long overdue Sheikh Zayed bridge in construction

As I was leaving the city, I got glimpses of what to expect to see at Yas Island.

Al Raha mall Abu Dhabi
Al Raha Mall
Al Raha mall The HQ Yas Island Abu Dhabi
The landmark office building simply called 'The HQ'
Yas Island apartments Abu Dhabi to Dubai
Apartments facing the Yas Marina circuit
Yas Island Ferrari world
The insanely massive Ferrari World in the distance

The bus was hardly full and though you are assigned a specific seat with your ticket, I took advantage of the empty seats behind me and rested comfortably.

An hour later, we were in Dubai, on Sheikh Zayed road, just about to enter the city.

Then it began…

Entering Dubai Marina Sheikh Zayed roadDubai Marina buildings Sheikh Zayed roadDubai Marina mall Sheikh Zayed roadDubai Marina Jumeirah Lake towersDubai Marina buildingsDubai Marina metro stationDubai Marina buildingsDubai Marina buildings

… aaaand that was Dubai Marina.

Building after building after building. Five years ago, this was all sand. They carved out the land to their desire, a lot of dredging and sand dumping later, they went from this…

Dubai Marina early construction
(images from Google)

… to this…

Dubai Marina from helicopter
(image from Google)

… and the work still isn’t done.

There are still more buildings yet to be completed.

In the Middle East, Dubai was always a land of opportunities. From the many expatriates who made their riches here to those who have now even made it their home. Despite the recession, there are still hundreds of job seekers from all parts of the globe here in Dubai in search of work.

In fact, I sat next to a fellow Indian (from Tamil Nadu), who was returning from a job interview from Abu Dhabi.

Tamilian Dubai bus

Past the Dubai Marina, lies Dubai Internet City.

Dubai internet city companies
Some of the IT majors at Dubai Internet City

But hard as they may try, remnants of the current economic reality are all over Dubai.

Dubai Arenco building to-letDubai offices to rentWant office space? Dubai has plenty to offer.

As we drove up Sheikh Zayed road, to my right was the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai bus ride Burj Khalifa
I didn't get a great view -- but you can't help but stare at it

Half-an-hour later, I was at Bur Dubai bus stand where my friend Azhad was waiting for my arrival. He got me a Nol Card, the smart card Dubai’s RTA (Roads & Transportation Authority)  introduced to be used in the newly launched metro service and Dubai’s public buses. Your Nol Card costs Dhs 20 (Rs. 240/$5/€4) — of which Dhs 6 is deducted as the cost of the card — and the balance is your usable credit. The credit can be “topped up” at various stations and select stores all across Dubai.

We walked around a bit, chatted about old times and made our way to a bus stop. We had to make it across the creek to Deira, where Azhad stayed (& where I would be staying too).

After freshening up, Azhad didn’t waste any time in showing me around.

Dubai Deira fish roundabout
Azhad lives around here... y'know, in case you want to stalk him
Deira Syrian shawarma Azhad
Azhad stops for a snack at a Syrian joint
Dubai Union Station metro evening
Union Station, the metro stop in Deira...
Dubai Al Ghurair City Centre traffic
... if you want to go to Al Ghurair City Centre
Dubai Deira road traffic
The Burj Khalifa in the distance
Deira Emirates NBD building Sheraton

Azhad took me to the creek.

Deira Dubai creek boat eveningDubai Deira creek park

Dubai municipality office building
Dubai Municipality office building

Dubai Deira Radisson hotelDubai Deira Rolex twin towerDubai creek signs boatsDubai creek restaurant

Dubai creek cafe prayer hall
You can stop by here for evening prayers

Dubai Deira LIC HSBC building

Dubai creek lit up boatAfter an hour or so of walking, Azhad said we were now going across the creek to Bur Dubai on an abra.

Basically, small passenger boats that ferry people across the creek. The cost: Dh 1 (Rs. 12)

Dubai creek abra dockDubai creek abra Rolex towersDubai creek abra small boatDubai creek abra boat peopleDubai creek yacht mosqueDubai creek mosque minaret dockDubai creek abra Bur Dubai dockDubai creek abra souk station

The ride takes less than 2 minutes, but taking a ride on the creek is pretty much a ‘must do’ for any visitor to Dubai.

Dubai creek lights lampOnce on the other side, it was more walking to see what the souk had to offer.

Bur Dubai soukTraders from India (mostly Sindhis, Gujaratis and Keralites) have been in Bur Dubai for years. So much so, the souk is also called Meena Bazaar by the local Indian community.

Given the Indian population in the area, it was no surprise to know the Hindu temple was also located here. Though, you’ll need some help in find it the first time.

Dubai hindu temple
You have to take a left from a small alley lane to enter the temple
Dubai hindu temple narrow hallway
And it only gets narrower once inside

Dubai hindu temple flower shopDubai south indian hindu temple stairsDubai temple more shops

Inside you’ll find stores selling all your religious and devotional ‘merchandise’.

Once out, it was straight to the Dubai Museum.

Lane outside temple Bur Dubai

Dubai museum Bur Dubai Regal
The first thing you see as you enter Dubai museum

Dubai museum Bur Dubai casketDubai museum projectionDubai museum Bur Dubai riflesDubai museum Bur Dubai handgunsDubai museum statues

Dubai museum old traditional room
An old traditional room. You're not allowed to sit on the bed.
Dubai museum old traditional room Azhad
So Azhad sat on it

Dubai museum old traditional room

Dubai museum old coir mats
Ponchos* worn by Arabs in the old days (*not really)

Dubai museum armour knivesDubai museum spears display

Dubai museum Dubai 1822
Dubai in 1822, way before they discovered tall buildings

Dubai museum fort

Dubai museum birds
Giant man-eating birds* of yore (*not really)
Dubai museum through the years
Downstairs was a hall with a Dubai 'through the years' demo room

Dubai museum demo

Dubai museum plaster statues

Dubai museum carpenters shop
That's a holographic video playing in the background

Dubai museum spices shop

Dubai museum food shop
Selling items decades past their expiry date
Dubai museum study Azhad
Azhad listens in, locals ignore him

Dubai museum lady abaya

Dubai museum stone hologram
This was a really cool hologram

Dubai museum star constellationDubai museum dhow construction

Dubai museum under water
This section was to showcase marine history in Dubai -- thus the guy's legs sticking out of the ceiling

Dubai museum Makhtoum hallDubai museum Makhtoum hall insideAnd with that, we made our way out of the museum.

Dubai museum dhow boat Bur DubaiDubai Museum isn’t as big as say, Bahrain museum, but it’s still recommendable considering the entry fee is just Dhs 3 (Rs. 36/$0.80/€0.60).

We then roamed around Bur Dubai some more…

Bur Dubai abundant trading strange
Left: Grand Aboundant must be well-stocked; Right: ..............

… went through the souk again…

Bur Dubai souk traders pushcartsDubai souk Bur Dubai clothes… and then back to the creek.

Dubai creek Bur Dubai abra dock

Dubai museum creek sheeshaDubai creek lit up buildingWe just kept walking along the bend.

Dubai Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's old house
Passed by Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's old residence
Al Siraaj the Guiding Light hall panorama
Dropped by Obaid bin Thani's house which houses the exhibition Al Siraaj
Al Siraaj the Guiding Light lamps
Al Siraaj - The Guiding Light seeks to educate the public on the Qur'an's take on science, creation of the universe, etc.

Al Siraaj the Guiding Light from topAfter that, it was one last glance at the creek…

Dubai creek couple

Dubai creek Bank of Baroda
Seeing the Bank of Baroda sign, one can't help but assume this part of Dubai feels like a 'mini-Mumbai'

… before heading back.

Dubai Sheikh Saeed house AzhadBy now my legs were aching and so, we decided to take a cab back to Deira.

Dubai meter taxi insideFor dinner, it was back to a Syrian restaurant in Deira.

Deira roast chicken dinner
The challenge: Finish an entire chicken* between the 2 of us

I was really knackered by the time we got back to the room. Legs were aching and I just felt like sleeping. I saw quite a bit today and I was all the more excited about where I was going tomorrow — the tallest building in the world and the biggest mall in the region!

*P.S: Me & Azhad did our best… but we couldn’t finish the entire chicken.


Next posts in this series:

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

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

Abu Dhabi to Al Ain highway distance sign

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

Date: 4th April, 2010

On my second day in Abu Dhabi, I really didn’t have any plans besides checking out some stores nearby. But I ended up not doing so when my mother told me we had to go pick up my grandmother from our relative’s place in Dubai. And I thought: “Great, road trip!”

So post-lunch, we set off from Musaffah via Emirates Road for Dubai.

Driving from Abu Dhabi to DubaiDriving from Abu Dhabi to DubaiWe stopped at the gas station for fueling up and to grab some coffee, and while there, it was good to note the locals still love their SUVs.

Abu Dhabi Dubai ENOC station SUV
Fill 'er up! Even after the price hike, a litre still only costs Rs. 16 out here

There really wasn’t a whole lot to see on the journey besides dry land on either side and heavy vehicles…

Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai trucks… but my mother did ask me to notice just how long this green and white compound wall would stretch for.

Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai compound wall
I didn't see it end until after 60kms or so!

45 minutes into our journey, as we entered the emirate of Dubai, things started to get a lot more interesting.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai Emirates roadThe number of heavy-duty trucks all lined up, heading in and out of Jebel Ali was staggering.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai trucks highwaysThen, slowly but surely, came the construction projects. Besides factories, all the newer office buildings and the massive ambitions of Dubai.

Dubai motor city board sign

Dubai Autodrome Emirates road Motor city
Dubai Autodrome: The FIA certified racetrack in Motor City

If you want to know what heck is Motor City, check out their official website.

Driving past the Dubai Cricket stadium on Emirates roadDriving past the Dubai Cricket stadium sign on Emirates road The 25,000-seater stadium is part of the US$4 billion Dubai Sports City project. If you want to… actually, just click here (.pdf document).

(FYI, most Arabs don’t give a shit about cricket. The UAE national squad is mostly comprised of Pakistanis and Indians. Despite that, ICC’s international headquarters will now be in Sports City.)

Dubai Global village Emirates RoadThe Dubai Global Village mostly comes alive during the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival.

But the sad reality behind the facade and the large signs that advertise these massive projects are that… well, they are either on hold or are lying empty. Some bits are done, but there are still many phases yet to be started/completed due to the financial crisis of last year that put an end to Dubai’s extravagant dreams.

An empty office on Emirates roadDubai Emirates road building constructionIn fact, the Motor City, Sports City and Global Village are all part of the massive (you’ll see me use this word a lot) Dubailand — what they described at launch would be the largest theme park in the world. But all I saw was a statue of a dinosaur near Dubailand’s hoarding. Sigh.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai power grids
Saw a lot of this on the way too. They'll need it.

Dubai Emirates road airplane

By evening, we were in Jebel Ali heading to a residential complex called LuLu Village where my relatives were staying.

Dubai Emirates Road to Jebel AliAn hour later, coffee and chit-chat over — and with grandmother in tow — we set off once again.

The sights weren’t obviously that different on the way back. More construction…

Dubai Emirates road twin towers
ENOC = Emirates National Oil Company

… completed apartments …

Dubai Emirates road apartments

… and Dubai’s new skyscrapers.

Dubai Emirates road Marina distance
Dubai Marina in the distance -- and where the mistreated labour that built them live in the fore

All of which now have disappointing occupancy rates.

Regardless, I was still looking forward to my time in Dubai.

Dubai Burj Khalifa shadow
You can't really hide the tallest building in the world now can you?

Dubai exudes excitement. It is the party capital of the Middle East. I was looking forward to meeting my friends and going around the city.

It’s not for everyone of course, especially the uneducated poor, for whom it can be one of the harshest places to be in.

Dubai Emirates trucks highway
There were a lot more trucks on our way back

Dubai to Abu Dhabi Emirates road sunsetDubai to Abu Dhabi Emirates road lamp postsAbu Dhabi lamp posts flyover

Abu Dhabi Yas Island Aldar distance
The impressive Yas Marina Circuit in the distance. (Yes, even this was on my itinerary)

Abu Dhabi underpass art

By nightfall we were back home in Abu Dhabi. The plan for the next day was a visit to Shaikh Zayed Mosque — and as with a lot of things I had planned, I was really looking forward to it.


Also read: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years (First post in this series)

Next posts in this series:

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

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

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