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.
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…
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.
As I was leaving the city, I got glimpses of what to expect to see at Yas Island.
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.
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…
… to this…
… 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.
But hard as they may try, remnants of the current economic reality are all over Dubai.
Want 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.
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.
Azhad took me to the creek.
After 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)
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.
Once on the other side, it was more walking to see what the souk had to offer.
Traders 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.
Inside you’ll find stores selling all your religious and devotional ‘merchandise’.
Once out, it was straight to the Dubai Museum.
And with that, we made our way out of the museum.
Dubai 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…
… went through the souk again…
… and then back to the creek.
We just kept walking along the bend.
After that, it was one last glance at the creek…
… before heading back.
By now my legs were aching and so, we decided to take a cab back to Deira.
For dinner, it was back to a Syrian restaurant in Deira.
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.