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if you are not with a professional guide, you could be easily be lost in the desert, it is scary, because an open dune is a place with no directions and you will never make a mark symbol to remember how to get out!!!
Unique Suggestions: If it happens and you are lost please make sure you have a mobile to use!
Written Apr 8, 2006
a different kind of "working" girls
Unique Suggestions: Jules bar in the Meridien Dubai can be a bit of an awkward experience when you visit it for the first time. Apart from the variety of drinks and live entertainment, this bar gets very busy at night with eastern European “working” girls. They are very easy to spot as they arrive in groups of 3-5, line the sides of the bar and wink at any potential customer. Unless this is your idea of fun, just dismiss their attention and they will soon move on to the next lonely bloke.
For those of you who are tempted (after all some these girls are very pretty), think before you get your wallet out … is it not better to spend the extra 100 dollar on a gift for your girlfriend/wife in one of Dubai’s malls? At least she will appreciate it and won’t leave after 10 minutes.
Updated Sep 7, 2004
I wish I could say that I stayed at the Burj al Arab but as I hadn't won the lottery I couldn't. What can you say, the tallest hotel in the world, the only seven star hotel in the world, spectacular when lit at night and consisting of all suites totally luxurious. The tourist trap here?-if you just want to go in to look around it will cost you about 40GBP to go across the causeway!!
It was hot all the time we were in Dubai and very hazy so I had to cheat and resort to a postcard for this picture of the Burj Al Arab.
Updated Mar 16, 2004
UAE has lots and lots of beautiful, but huge and confusing roundabouts. This is the Cultural Roundabout in Sharjha. Believe it or not, while driving, these can become big tourist traps for the novice.
Unique Suggestions: Note that cars left hand site entrance to the roundabout have the right of way. One should not enter the roundabout until the traffic ceases to enter from left hand side. Once you enter, drive normally in your own lane and use indicators continuously to keep turning or exiting.
Updated Sep 6, 2002
'Are you sure we parked our car here?' yells Ifrah. Yes, this is possible, many people have lost their 4 wheel drives in the desert, because when they move out to hike, they forget to mark the bearings. One of our family friends had a broken down vehicle. They went to the nearest help station to bring help back to the vehicle, but they just could not locate the place they had left their car. They had to seek police chopper's help.
Written Aug 26, 2002
There's no tourist trap I can see except that people around keep on mistaken me as Philippines who work there. There's nothing wrong with that because there are so many Philippinos working there so of course they look at me as one of them. It just that when Arab people know you are Malaysian they will be so friendly to you and I even get free souvenirs from one of the shop!..hmm.. interesting.
Updated Aug 26, 2002
Spend a couple of hours driving around Dubai and you will find that it is a bustling modern city with few old buildings and historical sites. However, a great effort is being made to preserve and restore the traditional Arabic heritage and the city has a variety of attractions, both new and old, that are worth visiting.
Dubai grew and developed around the Creek which acted as a focal point for the city. This area remains a main centre of activity with contrasting lifestyles, new and old, side by side and we suggest that any visit to Dubai starts here.
The following list of attractions is by no means exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the rest of the book, in particular we suggest:
Abra Creek Crossing
06:00 - 24:00
Both Sides Bur Dubai / Deira
From the Textile Souk area across the Creek to the Al Seef Road part of Bur Dubai takes five minutes by water taxi. Known locally as an 'abra', these basic wooden boats seat about 30 people and are used by ordinary workers as a cheap method of transportation. 50 fils will get you from one side of the Creek to the other.
For Dhs.30-50, however, you can hire the boat and driver for a short river tour of about half an hour for you and your guests alone. Don't forget to agree on the price before boarding. The steps to the Creek are steep, so be careful not to lose your balance while stepping across to your boat, then sit on the low deck to enjoy the view of Dubai by water.
Nr Diwan - Bastakiya
This older part of the town has been restored in many parts. Here you can view one of the earliest forms of air conditioning in the shape of windtowers, which were built to catch the slightest of breezes and funnel them down into the courtyard houses still found here. Amble down alleyways, step into two converted houses which now house art galleries and picture yourself living in a bygone era.
Dubai Creek Waterfront
Nr Inter-Continental, Deira
To get a real feel of old and new Dubai side by side, take a stroll along the Creek to experience the hustle and bustle of a myriad of wooden dhows (traditional boats), unloading their cargoes. Marvel at the trust that is evident from the piles of goods on the wharfage and take in the incongruous sight of fruit, vegetables, electronics and even cars being offloaded from the same vessel. A real visual treat and photo opportunity!
Traditionally the dhow captains would bargain in the souks near the creek with the Arab merchants for the contents of their journeys. The goods, often spices, porcelain or cloths would then be sent further up the coast or taken inland by camel train. Trade is a very traditional, as well as a modern, part of Dubai.
Dubai Town Walk
Whilst the layout of the roads and the heat, especially in summer, do not make Dubai the easiest city to explore by foot, there are many areas that are well worth the effort of walking around. In particular these include the souk areas of both Bur Dubai and Deira, near the Creek, which can be combined with an atmospheric abra (water taxi) crossing.
A useful aid is the Dubai Town Walk Map that outlines two routes, one on either side of the Creek. Availability is limited, but the guide can still be bought at Dubai International Arts Centre or Profiles in Markaz Al Jumeirah and Jumeirah Plaza for about Dhs.5.
Dhow Building Yard
Nr Garhoud Bridge Bur Dubai
Located between Jaddaf and the Garhoud Bridge on Dubai's Creek, the dhow building yard is a fascinating insight into the origins of the wooden dhows that are still widely used for trade throughout the region. The word 'dhow' is not Arabic, but is a term commonly used throughout the area and further east. It is thought that the term originally referred to a wooden warship that was powered by sail. Nowadays most dhows are used for trade and vessels are able to carry about 250 tons of cargo.
Visiting the yard is a bit pot luck; depending on when you go there may be building in progress or just a stockpile of teakwood. But if you are lucky, you will see that little has changed in this age-old craft and some of the building methods look positively medieval!
A traditional dhow takes months to build, but once finished, can last for over a century. In the past, teak was imported from India and the planks moulded and shaped to form the distinctive high bowed vessel. Planks are still secured by locally made wooden nails and the gaps in the wood filled with rolled cotton, which is hammered tightly into place. The whole boat is then oiled to waterproof it and to preserve the wood. Life on the dhows was incredibly basic a hundred years ago, but even modern additions like diesel engines, satellite and radio do not disguise the harshness of life at sea in these vessels.
Pearling was a traditional activity, bringing considerable wealth to the region, most especially to the Emirate of Sharjah further along the coast. Pearling was done from a 'Sambuk', a light wooden boat, with a shallow draught and powered by sail. Nowadays these are commonly used for local fishing.
10:00 - 18:30
Jumeira Beach Rd, Jumeira
It used to be a private collection of animals in a large garden but Dubai Zoo is now owned by the Municipality who charge Dhs.3 per person for admittance. An old fashioned type of zoo with caged lions, tigers, giraffe, monkeys, deer, snakes, bears, flamingos, giant tortoise and other animals which are well looked after by Dr Rezi Khan, a dedicated manager, and his well trained staff. Space is tight for the animals but plans are underway to move the entire zoo to Mushrif Park near the airport. At the time of going to press no date for this has been finalised.
Dubai has few buildings that are more than 30-40 years old, however, the modern city has been built with a fine eye for the dramatic and the unique. There are a variety of buildings that stand out from the rest, for reasons as diverse as a nice view or an architectural first. The following are some of the more interesting.
Chamber of Commerce / Dubai National Bank
These two tall glass buildings stand on the Deira edge of the Creek and help create a skyline that is distinctive and unique. For the best view of the contrast of ancient trading dhows moored in front of modern Dubai, try to be on the opposite side of the Creek at dusk (near The British Embassy). As the sun sets it creates dramatic reflections in the glass and water .
Turn on your television set in the evening and this will be one of the mosques shown during the call to prayer. It is a beautiful and creative piece of architecture, built in a distinctive creamy/pink stone with minarets, arches and sculptured details. Definitely worth viewing at night when it is lit up .
Another distinctive and beautiful mosque, with colourful tiles, arches and pillars, it is found on Al Wasl Road.
Dubai World Trade Centre
This 39 storey tower was once the tallest building in Dubai and still remains a distinctive point on the skyline, although in appearance it is very '60's and looks dated, especially when contrasted with more modern buildings. There is a large exhibition and conference centre here. For a great view, try the guided tour to the observation deck, leaving at 09:30 and 16:00 from the information desk in the lobby and costing Dhs.5.
Emirates Training Centre
Cross by car over Garhoud Bridge to the Deira side of the Creek and this training centre, which is home to the national airline, will amuse and delight. It is built, most appropriately, as the front half of an aircraft!.
Clock Tower Roundaboutt
To compliment the excellent road network (but not as a tribute to the standard of driving!), roundabouts throughout the Emirates are usually heavily decorated, often with an Arabic theme. Clock Tower is one of the oldest roundabouts and, as well as being a useful landmark for visitors to get their bearings, could make for a good photo opportunity!.
Emirates Golf Club Creek Golf & Yacht Club t
Set amongst acres of landscaped greenery, these two golf clubs boast imaginative and unusual clubhouses, as well as being quiet retreats from the bustle of the city. The Creek club chooses the image of dhow sails on which to base the architecture of its clubhouse, while the other chooses Bedouin tents. At both clubs, non-members are welcome to visit the clubhouse.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel & Tower t
Each new hotel in Dubai seems to go one step further in finding a design that sets it apart from the rest and this hotel succeeds effortlessly. In particular, The Tower is unique; it is built on a specially constructed island just off the coast and at 321 metres is, presently, the tallest hotel building in the world - the Dubai World Trade Centre fits into its atrium!.
Written Aug 26, 2002
When going on a little water taxi thing (their name escapes me) from one side of the river to the other, insist on only paying 50 phils. When the drivers see a tourist, they insist that tourists go on a seperate taxi and pay DHS20. You may have to be quite firm and clear that you don't mind being with everyone else.
Written Aug 25, 2002
A word about the gold souk in Dubai: although it technically may be considered a 'tourist trap', I found the merchants to be extremely honest! The daily price of gold (based upon weight) is posted in each store, so you can compare it with the rate published in the paper. I purchased a 24K gold chain in one shop, and apparently overpaid by USD $10 or so due to an error in the weighing -- the owner sent his son out into the souk looking for me to personally return the money to me! This pictures shows both some beautiful gold jewelry, and the traditional henna work used to decorate the hands of brides.
Written Aug 24, 2002
Don't pay outrageous prices to cross the Khor Dubai: go to the abra crossing points. It costs a fraction of what you would be charged if you were to cross in an abra on your own. And you get the real taste of the crossing, not the touristy thing!
Written Aug 24, 2002
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