So, is Dubai just like Missouri?! We joke in Missouri that if you don’t like the weather, just hang around a few hours and it will change – and it’s true quite a lot. One morning you’ll be running the furnace because the temps are in the teens (fahrenheit) and by afternoon, the air conditioner is coming on because it’s in the 80s!.
In Dubai this week two days ago was sunny, hot, and 98 degrees, next day was sand storm and 96 all day, and early this morning, i woke to the gentle ping of rain on the window. Not much accumulated, but the streets are flooded!
Dubai’s annual rainfall is 3.71 inches per year, with March being the second highest rainfall month of a whopping .87 of an inch (March has the most days of rain at 5) However, the past couple years, the annual has risen to nearly 5.91 inches a year. Apparently, UAE is seeding the clouds to hopefully increase the rainfall. Whether or not that is working or if this is just a natural increase we’ll never be know, though i suspect the cloud seeding enthusiasts will be claiming success!
This morning, we had planned a guided walking tour of the gold and spice souks, but could never make contact with the local company to confirm, so we hopped on the Metro inside Mall of the Emirates and just enjoyed the walk ourselves. It’s in the old part of Dubai, so a bit of history would have been helpful, but….
Few crowds maybe because it’s a weekday and it had been raining, not sure. But there were plenty of vendors in your face plying their wares. Roping you with cashmere scarves they are pushing (gently remove it and say ‘no thanks’) and an amazing number of young men stepping in front with photos on their phones of ‘purses, watches, sunglasses’ just step back here. yeah, forget about it.
I really don’t like that aggressive approach at all, but Jessica and I smile and say, ‘very pretty, no thank you.’ It really stresses Dallas though. His Aspergers kicks in high in these types of situations, so i tend to limit his exposure – it makes him cranky.
Lots of pretty things, but i have no need for gold or spices and i’m not educated enough to haggle for any of it, so i buy nothing.
Typical of any big city, there are the ubiquitous Hop On/Hop Off buses, frequently open topped and/or heated or air conditioned with free water, ear buds provided for the narrative in several languages. Dubai is no exception and they have two companies providing the service. Jessica had a buy one/get one free coupon for City Sightseeing so this is the one we went with.
There were three crucial points of this touring –friendliness/helpfulness, interesting and informative narrative, and being on time — that this company did well. After that, however, i’ll share what i feel could be done better. Cold water vs warm water to drink and drivers should know when the venue at a particular stop has been closed instead of handing us an admittance ticket and pointing the way.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the tour, though we had to take the entire blue route (2 hours) to get from Dubai Mall to Mall of the Emirates. Tomorrow, we’ll take the same blue route, but transfer to two other routes for the full city tour. Guess, we could have hailed a cab.
Included in our tickes was admission to Dubai Aquarium and Zoo at the Dubai Mall. Maybe i’m jaded by all the zoos, aquariums, etc we’ve been too as the children were growing up, but these were a bit lackluster, although it did seem that the famiies with young children were having a great time. Most of the aquarium can be seen for free — ya gotta pay to walk under the aquarium and tour the zoo part. And you’ll be accosted for photographing at least three times. Maybe i was getting tired, but i sure was getting a bit short tempered with that nonsense.
Jessica has frisbie practice first thing this morning, so it’s off to Palace Beach on the Persian Gulf for this clan. A popular beach for families and campers, though it offers no amenities, including toilets!
Another action packed day starting with praise and worship at a local assembly – Fellowship of the Emirates. Great band, contemporary songs, good message. I don’t agree with the whole ‘easter’ thing, but there is little doubt these people love the Father. One thing these awesome outreach ministries really need to be mindful of is remembering to teach ‘repentence.’ Too many times, ministries leave that critical component out of the Good News. With over 500 people attending this 9am service and more expected at the 11am service, there is quite a movement of diverse cultures and people all worshiping together, bringing together all age groups and backgrounds. I would not be surprised if nearly every country in the world was represented in this one serivce.
Safa Park was our next stop after church and dropping off Jessica’s friend Deseret at her apartment. Although touted as a complete escape from Dubai, it is right down town and surrounded by traffic noise, but it is large and lots of greenery, handcraft vendors, and of course delicious food!
Resting up for our big afternoon and evening adventure with Platinum Heritage Desert Tours. Don’t even hesitate to book the tour of your choice – totally impressed with this outfit! Our driver/tour guide/waiter Ericson is a perfect host and our travel mates from Lisbon were fun! There are several tours from which to choose, we experienced the Evening Desert Safari Dubai. Definitely book in advance, they fill spots quickly.
The evening ends in saying goodbye to our guide and new friends from Lisbon, Portugal.
Up early, but slow start. Jessica is off to work at her kindergarten teaching job at Dubai American Academy literally a five minute walk from her apartment to her classroom! Today, (Thursday and the last day of the week) was parent-teacher conferences, so Dallas and I were treated to a real tour of her classroom, school, and met a few of her teacher friends.
After spending some time wandering around the area, we were back to the apartment for a nap.
Jessica returned in the mid afternoon and she had plans to walk our feet off.
First to Dubai Miracle Garden – the wind was wicked with sand and dust absolutely a challenge for eyes and throats. Some people were wearing face masks. Yes, the garden is touristy, but judging from the number of families, I suspect many were locals looking for a bit of color and escape from the concrete jungle of everyday. The air quality inside the garden was aided by tall trees surrounding the park.
Just before dusk, we drove then to Global Village – This park opens at 5pm, because truly it is best enjoyed after dark to appreciate the lights, sounds, action, and each country providing quality dance exhibitions all included in your ticket. Mostly, this is a chance for countries to sell and promote their wares, but it was fun to peruse the stalls. Bear in mind, we Westerners are not all that used to hawkers and they are in full force. Just politely say no thank you (sometimes multiple times) and move on or jump in for the thrill of snagging a great deal.
Recently, our eldest, (daughter Jessica) visited and toured Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque located in Abu Dhabi and although a long way from our home in north Missouri, it’s not far from her current residency in Dubai, UAE. For about $11 roundtrip, the two hour each way trip by bus is a bargain! Car rental is reasonable as well and requires an international driver’s permit.
Admittedly, when she posted these photos of her dressed in an abaya and shaya, it set me back a nano second. We just don’t expect to see her dressed in such. However, it is required cover for visiting the mosque – i would do it, too. Woman can borrow the long dress (abaya) and headscarf (shaya) from the service center at the mosque. More information about visiting this stunning mosque can be found at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center