Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Dubai Fountain

Where the back of Dubai Mall there and the Front of Burj Al-Khaleefa meet there is a "lake". Really its just a 900ft long, 4 foot deep chlorine pool. Nightly, from 6 to 11, there is a fountain show that goes off every 30 mins. It is the world's LARGEST dancing fountain (just another 'world's largest' Dubai can boast) shooting 22,000 gallons of water 500ft in the air.

 Last night we had dinner at a delicious water front Italian restaurant and watched 3 shows all showcasing 3 different pieces of music and ensembles. It was SPECTACULAR. If you are in Dubai YOU MUST SEE THESE FOUNTAINS. I can't explain how majestic it was, so I'll just show you a video. 

                                                      Part 1
video
                                                                          Part 2
video

Monday, October 25, 2010

Economy...FAIL!

For the last two or so years, it has become a guarantee that when you read or watch the news, US or international, you will hear about crumbling economic conditions. This has become a very real and apparent situation in Dubai. This city-state, founded on speculation and investment on the promise of large future returns, was hit very hard by the economic turn down. A few months ago Dubai's economic struggle almost became one of epic proportions when it nearly failed to pay its first installments on massive loans. A default of this size would be disastrous not only to Dubai but to other economies as well.

Signs of the turn down aren't only apparent to those who follow economics or the news, but can be seen just driving down the street.


Only a year ago, cranes use to cram the skyline. Buildings were going up as fast as was humanly possibly. Today, only few dot the view. Construction equipment, like those above, sit in endless rows, unused filling empty parking lots. Tens of thousands of laborers, engineers, and construction workers were sent home.

Massive projects slated to begin were halted. Below is the proposed "Dubailand" Universal Studios amusement park that only got as far as an entrance arch. The project is suppose to resume when funding is available. Till then, the acres of land sit sandy and empty.

Universal Studios archway

It is however projected that the economy of Dubai has the worse behind it. It should start to make slow but gradual incline. By 2015 everything should be right back where it was.  As for the American economy, thats another story.

Old McDonald had a Farm

Through out my blogs I keep saying how I have learned and experienced so much while abroad. I've become more aware of not only different places and faces, but I've been exposed to things that have made me learn new things not just about different countries, but also about the U.S.

Today, Hend and I were grocery shopping and she bought this huge bag of oranges. I didn't understand why she would buy so many when I was sure they weren't going to be ripe. I told her "Hend, its not the season, they wont be sweet."  Winter is the season for oranges, everyone knows that. She shrugged and told me "Its Winter somewhere." It was true, the oranges came from South Africa and they were delicious. 

One of the things that has become very salient to me is how protected the American agricultural business and American farmers really are. The American agricultural business is essentially under lock and key to foreign markets. American farmers are very protected. With few exceptions of South American products, most fruits and vegetables are home grown. The reasons behind this are many, but fall under two categories: National Pride or Economics. 

Being the desert, Dubai has to ship in all of their resources, but there is a benefit to all this. I've become a world citizen vis-a-vis the grocery store. I've eaten apples from Brazil, watermelon from Iran, tomatoes from Malaysia, onions from Holland, potatoes from Jordan, grapes from Italy, broccoli from the US, carrots from India, and peaches from Morocco. Its amazing to taste all these fruits and vegetables from different places. The varieties are slightly different than ones grown in America. 

Yet another opportunity in Dubai, I wouldn't have in the US! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

How can I not help you?

As an American Passport holder, I get an automatic entrance visa into the U.A.E. for 30 days. If I wish to stay longer, I have to exit the U.A.E. and reenter to get an additional 30 days. I can continue to do this with no limits imposed and  until I leave for good; it is free of cost. So here is my question; if they aren't going to charge me a fee and will automatically unlimitedly renew my visa, why hassle me in exiting and reentering? I can see no benefit. Since I can't personally restructure the policies of U.A.E. tourism I'll simply comply. Today I headed out to Oman to exit and reenter to obtain an additional 30 days.




It was a 54 mile drive that had some of the most spectacular views, it was almost worth the hassle. The difference in geography between the U.A.E. and Oman is crazy. Where the U.A.E. is crazy national geographic sand dunes, Oman is mountainous like the Rockies.

 Oman also has  a lot of  "Wadi" which are valleys. Currently because of the hot summer months they are dried up, but once the rain season starts they will fill with lots of water. It can be dangerous sometimes because the water over flows and can run into the roadway and catching motorists in the flow.

Can't say we didn't warn you!
Driving to Oman, and away from the bustling city, I began to really feel like I was in an Arab country. With the modern feel of Dubai, you forget you aren't in the Western world. With every mile we drove, it was as if we were going back 10 years.  I felt like I was in Geryan, my hometown in Libya. Humble homes, small  mom and pop shops, old cars (most are stalled), and hand made pottery being sold on the street all made me feel like I was in a place I already knew.


It was a great drive and a neat mini-adventure. I now have one more visa stamp in my passport and an additional 30 days to enjoy the U.A.E.



Until next month....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Slow Down

So far in my trip I have had an amazing time Al-Hamdulilah. I've seen so much, eaten crazy stuff, and finally went to a water park. I am half way through my trip and the rate of seeing new things is slowing quickly. Dubai has begun to feel normal or homey to me. The glitz and adventure have worn down a bit. It seems I keep doing the same things over again, eating at awesome restaurants, going to obscenely large shopping malls, and spotting $300,000 cars everyday.

I'm finding its harder to find things to blog about. I've completely run out of pictures. If you were waiting for me to get back home so you can see my photos, tough luck. There are a few things on the horizon, but it will be a bit flat line for awhile. Know that I haven't neglected my blog, I simply don't have anything to write about. I've spent the last few days watch Mad Men.

More adventures are coming Insha'Allah!  Soon, I'll have to start a count down for coming home, eeek!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tomato Tomahto

Dubai has a lot to offer tourists, one of the most alluring attractions is the beautiful beach.


Now, depending on who you ask, the name of the body of water of Dubai's coast may get two different answers. Arabs call it the Arab Gulf, but according to Wikipedia historically and internationally (AKA The West) it is know as the Persian gulf. Its a case of "tomato tomahto", who cares? Its all arbitrary anyway. I digress. Dubai's beach front is breathtaking.




 The sand is so white and clean. I can't explain how mad I get when I go to a beach and people have discarded their trash on the sand. Chicken bones, diapers, cigarette butts,  and empty cans do not belong on the "Shut" (beach). The water is very still. Only small waves occur as the water hits the sand. The still water really made it possible to create the man made islands of The Palm and The World.

The water is also ALWAYS warm, actually it could almost be called hot. I have yet to swim in the gulf because it is so hot outside. Unlike the dumb British tourists, I am uninterested in 2nd degree burns and becoming a lobster. I'm happy to come early morning with a cup of coffee, before the oppressive sun comes out in full force, and enjoy the scene.

Wild Wadi!

 The biggest allure of Dubai for me is how women friendly it is. By that I mean, as a Muslim women that wears Hijab, sometimes my options  of things to do are limited. In Dubai, they have taken care to ensure that both men and women can enjoy attractions. A prime is example is Wild Wadi.



Wild Wadi  is an outdoor water park with a heated/cooled wave pool, multiple water slides and two artificial surfing machines. Wild Wadi has the largest water slide outside of North America.


It was the SCARIEST thing I've ever been on in my life. This slide is 80ft high and as you slide down, you gain speed of up to 50MPH!!! At some point your body is actually suspended in mid-air. It kind of feels like that stomach drop at during a roller coaster ride. I forced myself to keep my eyes open and according to Hend, I was screaming the whole way down; I don't remember that part.

I had such an amazing time on all the different rides. It was the first time I had ever been to a water park. I use to always look at the giant water parks in America with envy. I knew I was missing out, and I was right. It doesn't matter if you're an adult or a kid, people LOVE playing in water.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mosques of Dubai

My favorite part of being in a Muslim country is seeing the different Masajid, or Mosques. The Masajid in Dubai are really beautiful. The only thing is they all pretty much look the same. But hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sorry!

I've been having issues with blogger and uploading pictures. I've been trying for the last 5 days to upload pictures of vietnam, but it just hasn't worked. So I decided I am going to skip blogging about Vietnam. Insha'Allah when I see many of you in person, I can tell you all about it. From now on, I will continue to blog about Dubai.

Salamat Hari Raya Aidalfitiri!

I have  had every Eid of my life in Lexington. Our routine is always the same. In the morning we would go to Salat Al-Eid, Eid prayer, come home have a family breakfast and then meet up with the local libyans for a Eid party filled with pizza, games, and gift exchanges. This year however, I couldn't have been further away from Lexington if I tried. For my very first Eid away from Lexington, I was in Malaysia.

A Happy Eid banner
Eid in Kuala Lumpur was such a disappointment. Because KL is such a cosmopolitan city with such a large mixture of people, there was nothing signifying it as Eid. The staff at the hotel were surprisingly unhelpful in finding a Mosque or when Eid prayer was held. Eid morning was spent in the hotel watching old episodes of America's Next Top Model. The events that I look forward to each year were not a possibility and the day continued as any other. I was really shocked, I figured with a 60% Muslim population there would be some sort of sign of Eid. Nothing. The City was nearly emptied as people went back to their respective towns to celebrate with family and friends.

It was the most depressing Eid I ever had. I was almost 10,000 miles away from my family and friends. I couldn't help but sulk a little bit. The only thing that lifted my spirits was knowing that the next day we were off to Vietnam. So unfortunately, I can't tell you guys what Eid in like in Malaysia, I wish I knew.

On the plane the next day to Vietnam, These posters were plastered all over the plane, it was kindda cute.