After an extremely long sixteen hour flight from Los Angeles we arrived at Dubai. We had heard that Dubai was a relatively liberal city compared to the rest of the Middle East but still strictly abides by Islamic law so we were anxious about visiting there.
It was an interesting experience riding in the taxi to our hotel, all the sandy coloured buildings, Arabic writings and mosques.
Our first night we had our first taste of Arabic cuisine, with dishes of lamb, hummus, chickpeas and olives.
Day 1 – Desert Safari
The next morning we where introduced to another Arabic culture, the dawn Islamic Prayer (Fajr), which is signalled via a ‘call to prayer’ (adhān) via loudspeakers. It also didn’t help that the mosque was directly outside our window.
We had booked a desert safari in afternoon which gave us the morning to start exploring Dubai. We walked along Dubai Creek towards the Gold and Spice Souks in the Deira district. We spent all morning looking for a clock tower which was somewhat of a disappointment on arrival.
The desert safari we booked with Oasis Palm Tourism via our hotel. The tour included dune bashing and more ‘traditional’ activities including a meal at a camp for 270 Dirham per head. The activities all gave us some pretty unique photos. The dune bashing, which was a convoy of SUVs driving up and down the dunes at ridiculous speeds, was a blast. Many times I was concerned the car would roll, fortunately it didn’t. I don’t think any of the drivers got bogged once. At one spot we were given a chance to ‘sandboard’ which was literally a five second affair sliding down a dune.
On arriving at the camp which was reminiscent of a Bedouin camp, we were greeted by two camels who we could ride, this gave us some nice photos. Inside the very large camp were many areas for eating on the outskirts of a larger performance area for belly dancing, and also an area to try the tradition Arabic clothes (the male thawb and female jilaabah), Henna painting, which Sonya later found out she would be displaying for a month and Shisha smoking of apple flavoured tobacco.
Dinner was a selection of barbeque meats, salads and breads.
Day 2 – Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa
This day we spent exploring Downtown Dubai which includes the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountain.
On arrival to the over-towing Burj our first thoughts were ‘wow, it’s big’. Out of pure luck we happened to be in Dubai a few days after the official opening and managed to go all the way up to the observation deck. The views on the observation deck were amazing, and it was a very surreal feeling overlooking all the other skyscrapers.
For the rest of the day we browsed the adjacent Dubai Mall, one of the largest malls in the world. The mall had a multi-storey indoor aquarium, waterfalls and even an ice-rink. The mall had all the western shops including luxury brands. We finished the day off with another visit to the gold, spice and perfume souks, before our flight back to Perth, which sadly concluding our holidays.