Hello UAE – Part 2: Sightseeing and Shopping

After spending our first day at Dubai Mall, our second day was spent sightseeing Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It was mostly a road trip with food and prayer stops. I realized that the distances between places are too large. It is relatively easy to navigate through the traffic as the traffic generally follows the rules.

Dubai Skyline
Dubai Skyline

Brother’s friend picked us up and started the tour with taking us to Atlantis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah. Well, not actually Atlantis, but the beach right in front of it.The palms are developed on reclaimed land. Thus the beach is not open for sea bathing. It is covered with large rocks and is cordoned off with a railing to ensure that the visitors do not try to reach the water. The water is pretty deep and it would be dangerous to allow visitors to bathe in the sea.

Atlantis Hotel
Atlantis Hotel – Panoramic Shot

The entertainment on this beach is food. There are many food trucks parked right next to the protective railing, where visitors can buy food and enjoy, sitting in front of the sea, occasionally feeling the spray of seawater when a large wave splashes on the rocks. The air is fresh and enjoyable.

Palm Jumeirah Beach

Our next stop as Burj-Al Arab. There is a public beach next to Burj-al Arab. The beach is open and quite a few tourists can be seen sunbathing in swimsuits. If you are not used to such sights or feel uncomfortable, the best option is not to take a stop.

Burj al-Arab
Burj al-Arab

Lunch was a Turkish Affair at Anatolia Turkish Grill in Ibn-e-Batuta mall (Review will be posted on my food blog). Turkish food is awesome. It is light and refreshing. And even if you hate eggplants *raises hand* , you will fall in love with the sauces and purees made with an eggplant base *raises hand again*.

Lunch at Anatolia Turkish Grill
Lunch at Anatolia Turkish Grill

After lunch, it was a long trip to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Cornish is beautiful. We passed by the Royal Guest house of Abu Dhabi. Apparently it was built as a palace for the ruler, but for some reason converted into a guest house. The Sheikh Zayed mosque is a tourist attraction. It is very beautiful. Due to lack of time, we could not go inside to see the mosque. Their are many architecturally amazing buildings in Abu Dhabi.

Entrance to the royal guest house Abu Dhabi
Entrance to some important place in  Abu Dhabi

The return journey was pretty long on the second day. On the way back we stopped in Sharjah at my brother’s friends house to have dinner with his family. On the way back, we passed by the important places in Sharjah such as the ruler’s palace, old airport (converted to a marketplace), Rolla market, Sharjah Cornish etc.

There was some more fun in store for the third day. Who goes to UAE but does not visit IKEA? That’s where we went on the third day. I love IKEA from my childhood spent in Riyadh, KSA. So it was a must visit. IKEA is huge, we couldn’t visit the whole showroom, as I was much more interested in the marketplace. I had quite a few things on my list to buy from there.

A tiny kitchen for a young girl at IKEA
A tiny kitchen for a young girl at IKEA

Hyperpanda is right next to IKEA, so we went there as well. Bought a few things, specially baking ingredients that I could not find in Pakistan, or are available but are very expensive here.

Our hosts picked us up from IKEA and took us to the Global Village which is set up for almost 4 to 5 months of the year in Dubai. Global Village is an affair that requires one whole day. We visited the stalls of quite a few countries, but could not sample any food there. It is a vibrant and colorful display, converging most of the whole world into one single place.

We met two shopkeepers in Palestinian stall , who were hellbent on selling us some perfumes. The entertaining event was when he switched from Arabic to Urdu to claim “Karachi wale kanjoos nahin hotay” (Karachiites are not misers) in an Arabian accent to convince us to buy the perfumes. I bought some Kunafeh from the Jordan stall to bring to Pakistan. There is a small train to take people from parking 3 to parking 5 and the other way round, which helps reduce the long walk from the car park to the entrance of the Global Village.

Entrance of the Global Village
Entrance of the Global Village

Thus ended our trip to UAE. We went back home to pack for our flight next day. Three days of pure fun, without any worries of work next day, or research papers to write, or notes to study were over.

I got to do many things that I could not do back in Pakistan. I rode the metro train, I experienced different cultures, I saw the world’s largest dancing fountain, right in front of the world’s tallest building. I got to bake a cake for my niece, the host’s daughter. Greatest of all, I got to travel. Some day I hope to travel to newer destinations.

My tips and suggestions for visiting UAE for a short trip will come up in the next post can be found here. Read the first part of the UAE travelogue here.


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