Saturday, November 9, 2013

United Arab Emirates - Dubai & Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates was not originally on our list of countries to visit but when we started to look into flights to any country in Africa, we had to fly through Dubai. So, we figured we would make a trip out of it. It wasn't the cheapest place to spend a few days but I'm glad we visited. We arrived in Dubai on October 13 in the early afternoon and decided to explore the city in the evening after checking out our hotel and the surrounding area. Highlights of our visit? Shake Shack and shopping - we were quite excited to finally find deodorant at a local pharmacy (the last time were were able to find any was in Malaysia) and stocked up on some more outdoor gear for our upcoming safaris.

Hello, country #18

Not quite the same Melrose Place as in Los Angeles

The view from the roof of our hotel

The view from the 19th floor of our hotel restaurant

After some research, we headed to the Dubai Mall for some dinner (Shake Shack!) and to check out the fountain show by Burj Khalifia. 

A little piece of home 6,800 miles away

Despite the hefty price tag, it was worth it - the burgers tasted the same but the shakes were not as thick

Burj Khalifa at night - the tallest building in the world

Locals and tourists gathering for the fountain show

Ooooooooohhhh 

Ahhhhhhhhhh

The Waterfall inside Dubai Mall

Amazingly organized taxi line at the mall

The next day we headed to Abu Dhabi to see the major attractions.

But first, breakfast on the 19th floor for the awesome view of Dubai

Aldar headquarters building - the first circular building in the Middle East

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from the highway

Walking towards the entrance

Our tour guide didn't quite take the photo I was imagining - oh, and we weren't allowed to touch each other here and I was required to wear a scarf

Amazing architecture

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the 8th largest in the world

Look at the detail

Large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers - main prayer hall holds 7,000

There are 7 of these chandeliers imported from Germany
The chandeliers have millions of Swarvoski crystals incorporated into them

Copies of the Quran (Koran)

World's largest carpet at 60,570 square feet - it took almost 2 years to make

Pretty

Huge!

I'm glad the scarf I bought in India has been put to good use!

We got lucky and were allowed to visit the Emirates Palace Hotel - a seven star luxury hotel that is home to the most expensive cup of coffee in the world and instead of a plain old money ATM, this place has a gold ATM (you can get small bars of gold!) - sadly, photos were not allowed of the gold ATM.

Emirates Palace Hotel

A really big pearl!

The view outside one of the windows

It has a private beach - of course

Japanese Tea House - a symbol of friendship and respect shared between Sheikh
Mohammed and Dr. Sen of Kyoto Japan, a gift to His Highness Sheikh
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

This is the 2nd most expensive hotel in the world to be built

Outside corridor

We then stopped for some cool photos of the city.

Panoramic shot of the Arabian Gulf and the city in the background

You can see the city a little better with this shot

Our last stop of the day before heading back to Dubai was Ferrari World.

A Ferrari themed indoor amusement park - the largest in the world!

This kid is all decked out with Ferrari clothes

Paul is impressed with the engine

Paul hates these kinds of photos but our tour guide offered to take one so I agreed!

Formula Rossa - the fastest roller coaster in the world - 150mph in 5 seconds (Kingda Ka is now the second fastest)

I got a couple good pictures from the car

Burj Khalifa

Sunset view from our room

Pretty amazing that 25 years ago Dubai was just being built

The next morning we had tickets to go to the top of Burj Khalifa - the tallest man-made structure in the world standing at 829.8 meters high.

Going to the top! It took 60 seconds to get to the 124th floor. 

Outside on the observation deck (2nd highest observation deck at 452 meters)

Looking up

Now that we've been in the tallest building in the world, Paul says this is the last we'll go in.

Some locals checking out the view

One of the many views

This is a view of "The World" in the Persian Gulf - an artificial archipelago of small islands built in the rough shape of a world map that was unfinished due to lack of funding.

Another view from the 124th floor

I liked the reflections of this shot

On our last day, we decided to check out Jumeira Open Beach for some more photos.

On the way, we saw a good number of air conditioned bus stops!

The view of the city from Jumeira Open Beach

"Alone we're empty - together we are the universe"

The Dubai skyline

 We then caught our flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that evening.

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