Many people enjoy taking the wheel into their own hands & heading-off into the sands, underestimating the lethal potential of the desert, no matter how close or far you are from the city.
I've taken my Jeep off-road many times and here's a useful check-list:
1. MAIN RULE: Never drive into the desert with less than 3 cars!
2. The most experienced driver leads the way
3. Let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return
4. Examine the radiator for leaks
5. Turn off the air conditioning to avoid the car overheating & watch the temperature gauge
6. Check all the car's fluids: oil, coolant, brake fluid, gear oil etc.
7. Be certain your headlights, taillights & brake lights work
8. Bring a map. A good one is the "Offroad Explorer" hand book for UAE & Oman
9. Check your tires; don't deflate them too much! Otherwise you'll need a pump
10. Make sure at least 2 persons have tow-ropes & an especially designed balloon-air-jack for the sand (any normal jack will, of course, sink!)
11. Keep your distance! You cannot break abruptly in soft sand.
12. In case of having to pull a stuck car, stand well clear of the towing rope & close all windows. If the rope snaps, it could easily cut someone's head off!
13. Bring plenty of drinking water.
14. Pack a first-aid-kit... it can be a long drive to the nearest medical help
15. If you want a camp fire, bring wood... there's no wood in the desert!
16. Make sure you have at least 2 fully charged mobile phones in your group
17. TAKE YOUR RUBBISH HOME WITH YOU so you don't affect local wildlife & so the next person can enjoy the beauty of the desert!
If you want to take part in an organised desert trip by professional tour operators, click here for info: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tp/1300d9/
A "Wadi" is a dry river-bed that fills rapidly once rain falls over the surrounding mountains.
Wadi Bih can be entered from two sides, either Ziggy Beach or from Ras Al Khaimah. It's a favourite and traditional route through the Hajar mountains from the West coast (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.) to the beautiful East coast of the UAE. Wadi Bih joins up with Wadi Khabb Shamsi allowing motorised transport to pass close to traditional - seasonally inhabited - stone-built homes and villages, along with their now largely abandoned cultivated terraces high in the hills, perfect for a pit-stop and picnic during your day trip.
--> Be careful on steep slopes, if in a convoy keep a at least 40 metres between yourself & the car ahead of you: you cannot break as abrupbly on sand/gravel as you can on tarmac!
--> Make sure you have IDs (passport with visa, etc.) with you as well as your driving license; UAE & Omani checkpoints will ask for them.
--> You also need to make sure that your vehicle insurance covers Oman, otherwise you will have to pay extra.
--> Never camp in a Wadi (especially in the winter months). If rain occurs over the moutains you could quickly be swept-away by a flash flood.
You can either organise a trip with one of the many tour operators, or drive yourself with friends. Just make sure to observe the 1st rule of offroading & desert-driving: Never go with less than 3 cars.
Why don't you choose to sample some real "1001 Nights" (I am not talking about a touristy desert safari with Russian belly dancer) and jump off the beaten path, into a taxi & tell the driver "Dubai Creek, Al Seef Street, near British Consulate", you won't be disappointed.
Seef Steet really comes alive after dark. Stroll along, watch the boats & abras (water taxis), and the numerous families that enjoy the grass and play areas with their children. Watch traditional wooden Dhows (boats) and modern yachts cruise by on the creek, and the spectacular skyline on the opposite shore.
Walk down (with the creek on your right) towards the Ruler's Court & experience some of the inticing traditional eateries:
(Unlicenced - these restaurants do not serve alcohol)
At the Ruler's Court, close to Dubai Museum, is BASTAKIYAH NIGHTS. A lovely courtyard restaurant where you can sample Arabic cuisine, fresh fruit juices, hot Maroccon mint tea and of course Sheesha (water pipe). Tel: +971-4-3537772.
Or continue walking past HSBC Bank until you reach the Sheikh Saeed House. This is where you'll find the KAN ZAMAN Restaurant (see seperate restaurant tip) with plenty of indoor & outdoor seating area for more than 400 people. Tel: +971-4-3939913.
These are some of my favourite spots to sit for a relaxing evening with great Arabic food & aromatic Sheesha. You're in the middle of the city, yet you're not sat right on a main road inhaling car fumes & shouting across the table to your friends. These are the spots that radiate the "original Dubai-feeling" that is increasingly hard to find in our modern & changing city.
PS: If you do fancy a beer after dinner, you can even walk back up towards Bank Street, across the traffic lights & straight into Rock Bottom's.
More details in my Nightlife tips
When you've had enough of traffic, shopping malls, fancy restaurants & sight-seeing, escape from the big city.
Snorkling/Diving is not possible along Dubai's coast, due to no plant-life, whirled-up sand & offshore construction.
Therefore, try an absolute favourite among Dubai residents: you simply cannot beat a day-trip to Dibba & Mussandam. It's a 3 hour drive so it's good to leave early. Dibba consists of sea side villages who are owned partly by the Sultanate of Oman (Dibba Bayah), Fujairah (Dibba Muhallab) & Sharjah (Hisn Dibba).
Once arrived, you'll notice the clean air, peaceful surroundings & friendly people. Take a boat trip into the fijords & beaches with either a "Dhow" (traditional) or modern boat.
We booked with Khasab Tours, but most tour providers will also offer full-day trips starting at 09:00am; returning at 05:00pm (they bring lunch to the dhow with a speed-boat) The Hajjar mountains to your left rise an impressive 6,000 feet into the Musandam Peninsula and the famous pass winds its way across the mountains, through Wadi Bih, back to Ras Al Khaimah on the West Coast.
You will see:
> small villages on the side of a rocky hillside.
> beautiful, hidden beaches to which you can swim.
> fijords teeming with colourful corals, fish and turtles; great for snorkling.
> if you are lucky, you'll have some dolphins (yes, you heard correctly: WILD DOLPHINS!) bow-riding alongside your dhow!
Sometimes we've been too tired to drive back to Dubai, so we stayed at the Hilton in Fujeirah.
If you want to see the "real UAE", you simply have to visit the East Coast. It's the essensial & often forgotten charm of the United Arab Emirates.
NOTE: To explore Dibba & Mussandam further, you need a visit visa for the Sultanate of Oman.
In an oft-overlooked part of town, towards the area where the Dubai Museum resides snugly beside The Creek, lies Bastakiya.
Charming to its mud-laned core, The Bastakiya Quarter is slowly becoming home to Dubai's burgeoning art scene - galleries, fashion boutiques, quaint little cafes - they're all to be found within a complex maze of old-style Arabian dwellings.
I love the feelings which swarm inside my mind while walking through this place... a sense of the gone-by with an accent that's very now!
Almost all the galleries in this area are housed within converted wind-towers - beautiful, simple structures made predominantly of stone and brick.
A striking feature of these structures are the wooden 'arms' jutting out at right angles towars the top. In the olden days, when the words A & C didn't exist, these buildings were built to remain naturally cool during the cruel summer heat. Designed in such a way that ventilation was all-round.
I'll take these over air-conditioners, any day!
Another fun ingredient in the Bastakiya cocktail is the emergence of a couple of boutiques, bang in the center of all the art! Fae is a subtle, sexy diva of a boutique showcasing some gorgeously unique Indian wear.
Displaying creations mainly for women, their men's lines will be out shortly as well. Beautiful ethnic lehengas (skirts), contemporary cholis (chic low-cut blouses), saris - some of my lady companions have all fallen in love with the place, and insist on dragging me along each time! I don't mind, 'cause there are photo-ops aplenty, especially with the subdued lighting.
Have fun exploring up as well as downstairs, and don't forget to photograph the interiors... with each room looking incandescent in the soft, muted lights.
Founded sometime in the mid-70s, The Majlis Gallery is Dubai's first and foremost purveyor of indie creativity. The word 'Majlis' is Arabic for a hospitable meeting place, and the gallery is just that - a warm, cozy haven for people to stroll through on those still afternoons.
You won't be hurried into buying anything here, and you can wander from room to room at leisure, taking in the sights and smells of the old building and all the paintings residing within it. The calm vibe is a perfect antidote to the mayhem ensuing outside on Dubai's harried streets.
There's a large tree in the middle of the Majlis' courtyard, casting gorgeous shade on the artefacts resting below. I find this really charming, and maybe you will too.
Send your friends postcards and have an opportunity to win 500,000 Dirham.
Sounds like a dream, isn’t it??
Instead of sending the conventional postcard, people are encouraged to buy a pack of postcards and send it to friends or relatives. One pack contains of 4 postcards and sold at 30 Dirham. You don’t need to buy stamps, since each postcard is paid stamp, and you can even send them for people abroad. Just pay attention where you drop the postcard in the post box. There are two post boxes, for delivery in Dubai and abroad. The postcard packs is usually about Dubai heritage, culture or natural scenery.
Once you purchase the postcards, You will be given two number sections. The first section is an instant scratch & win section. The second section has a ticket number on top of the coupon.
The interesting part is, even you are not residing in Dubai, you can also take part. If you visit Dubai, you can buy the postcards and send them to your friends. After that, You just need to check your number in the website (hopefully you are the lucky one : ) )
971 600 5665 665 (Outside the UAE)
600 5665 665 (UAE)
Going to the desert is a great experience. And while you are visiting Dubai, don’t miss this chance. The perfect time to explore the desert is from December to March, where the temperature is cool and the weather is perfect. Early in the morning is great to see the early live on the desert. Or, you can also go later in the midday and stay in the desert to watch the sunset.
You can book a desert safari trip organized by travel agents, or if you fancy off road, plan a trip with your friends. If you are a first timer, it’s highly recommended to go with experienced person who knows how to drive in the desert. Or you can book desert driving course (usually one or two day course) to learn tips and tricks driving in the desert.
Four wheel drive car? Absolutely. Never go alone to the desert. It is always better to have several cars go in the trip, in case you get stuck.
UAE has many nice places to explore. Fossil Rock, Hanging Garden, Khutwa, etc. You can buy “Off-Road in the Emirates” by Dariush Zandi in the book store for your places and the Do & Don’ts reference.
But if you love to enjoy desert adventure without hassle, ring the travel agents. Usually their organized trip including belly dancer performance, henna design, camel riding, etc.
Tel : +971-4-3439966
Desert Adventures Toursim
Tel : +971-2242800
Tel : +971-4-2668661/2666655
I think it's fair to say that most of the dreamers who come to The Majlis, do so more for the experience than the art. Not to say that the paintings here aren't any good. In fact, it's an eclectic collection of reprints, originals and sculptures, with a heavy Oriental accent. The Majlis encourages local talent a great deal, and are always open to amateurs bringing in their stuff as well. Many expats residing in Dubai have even held their first exhibitions at this gallery.
You really oughta' make it down here on your next trip, if not for anything else, then atleast because it's a personal favourite of mine :)
Marhaba is an assistance service available at Dubai International Airport. It is quite useful to use Marhaba service if you have family, relatives or friends who come to Dubai for the first time. The Marhaba crew will wait for them when they step off the plane at Dubai International Airport.
The service of Marhaba including escort from gate until outside including porter service. Or if you use Marhaba service on the departure, they provide escort service from check-in area to the boarding gate. Marhaba also provides services such as bouquet service, Limousine service and also wheelchair for people who need it.
To use Marhaba service, you need to contact them through Dnata Travel or Emirates Airlines Reservation, or appointed travel agencies. If you come to Dubai Airport, just go to Marhaba counter. You will be required to fill in the form, depending on what package service you need.
Services available are among others, Diamond Service, Family Package, Normal Service, Marhaba Lounge and Wheel Chair. The price range from 60 Dirhams to 185 Dirhams, depend on the package. You can also request for staff who speak certain language to asisst your beloved people.
Some people I know love to buy The Entertainer book. If you love to eating out, indulge your self in best restaurants, so the book is worth to buy.
The book price is around 200 Dirhams, and available throughout the main bookshops in UAE.
The book gives you a great variety offer, discount coupon and also description about the places. Usually the discount is 10 to 30% depend on the restaurant.
What you need is, read the hint carefully. For example, only certain food get the discount. Or you need to spend to certain amount and get the discount, etc. The book is a great offer to experience the nice indulgence without hurting your credit card so much.
Bollywood love triangles. Hollywood endings. Enough to make you weep into your popcorn. Thankfully, the guys at 9714 Entertainment & Front Row Productions have conspired to infiltrate Dubai's notoriously mainstream tastes, infusing it with a shockingly alternative dose of film.
The Stella Artois Monday Movie of the week is held every Monday (imagine!) at iBO, the gritty club which doubles up as a make-shift screening venue. Comfy sofas, an interesting, interested crowd, and of course, loads of Stella Artois.
This has been a godsend for me, sating my cravings for Almodovar, Scorsese and in the days to come, even Fellini :) To watch films like Bad Education, uncensored and uninhibited, in Dubai - is something of a minor miracle. It's very much an underground thing still, and God bless these guys for it.
See the White Sand off in the distance. This is the Palm being built; a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree. Homes will be built here (they were sold out in 3 days); malls; etc. A second palm is also underway. It is amazing to watch this being built. The sand is brought up from the bottom of the sea and "blown" onto the island.