Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat–We loved them all!

Back home, we are remembering some of the wonderful experiences we enjoyed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat.   Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi was beautiful.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

And we, as non Muslims, were able to go inside to see the largest carpet, largest chandelier and the grandeur of this mosque.   The fish market was fun and I, Zeb the Duck, got a fish.

fish market for a snack

An evening boat ride, dinner included, showed us old and new on the Abu Dhabi sky line.

Abu Dhabi skyline

A common sight, and sound, throughout our Middle East adventure, the minaret of a mosque with a speaker for the call to worship.

Minaret of mosque with speakers

We gave up a free day in Abu Dhabi to experience a little of Muscat, Oman.   Here we saw some old and some new.   Muscat is a few thousand years old.   We loved wandering through the souk.

We explore the souk

Driving through Muscat, we appreciated the absence of too many cars and the accompanying car noises.

Driving through Muscat, Oman

Here, our guide shows some of the new:  The Royal Opera House of Muscat, Oman.

Our guide in Muscat, Oman

Back to the United Arab Emirates, in Dubai we rode a traditional boat, or dhow, to cross Dubai Creek.

Tourists crossing Dubai Creek on Dhow

We admired Dubai Fountain with Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, all connected with Dubai Mall.

Burj Khalifa behind Dubai Fountain

Dubai Marina was bustling, but still relaxing for our lunch stop.

Dubai Marina from Salsa Restaurant

Mall of the Emirates provided indoor snow skiing and tubing on snow, in additional to fabulous dining and shopping.

Skiing and tubing

Souk Madinat Jumeirah was a modern souk.

I love meeting new friends

The narrow alley of Bastakia Heritage Area showed life before oil and oil money forever changed Dubai.

Narrow alley walkways

Aromas from the spice souk will be with us always.

Spice souk

Of course we loved the animals.   The unexpected flock of flamingos were wonderful to see.

Some are looking at me

And riding the desert native, a camel, made our trip even more memorable.

Our camel is friendly

Of course we will never the gold souk with those huge gold necklaces and gold hats.   But our fondest memories are of the kind, welcoming people we met.   Our trip was a tour through http://www.SmarTours.com.   We have taken tours from them previously.   This was Deluxe Dubai and Abu Dhabi.   The day trip to Muscat, Oman, was not connected to SmarTours.   Chanel’s mom made separate reservations for us and we loved our day in Oman.   We hope you visit Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman soon.   We loved it.

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Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai with Zeb and Chanel

Scrambled eggs, variety of melon, sweet rolls and hot tea started our day.   Southern Sun Hotel in Abu Dhabi treated us to wonderful breakfast buffets each morning.   And we appreciated it.   Our suitcases have been collected and loaded on our bus.   Driving along the coast toward Dubai, we are reminded that Abu Dhabi planted thousand of palm trees, using hoses and pipes for irrigation.   Crossing into Dubai, we notice that Dubai did not plant trees.   This is a cool, overcast, windy day in mid February.   The wind is fairly strong, creating a small sandstorm.

Entering Dubai. Small sand storm and overcast day.  Reflections through bus window.

Visibility is very low; the Persian Gulf is barely visible from our bus.   Conditions do not change, unfortunately.   Our first glimpse of Dubai, even through haze, sand and light drizzle, still impresses.

Dubai. Impresses even through haze

We head to Palm Jumierah, or Palm Island.   This island, made of sand and rock, no concrete or steel, is the largest man made island.  This island was completed in 5 years and was a major engineering project.   Dubai became rich through oil, but that oil is expected to be gone by 2020.   The Sheikh, also the Emir of Dubai, wanted Dubai to be a world tourist mecca and trade center.   A major problem for tourism was a limited amount of coastline.   Building islands gives Dubai more coastline.   Jumierah Island added 75 kilometers of coastline.   This island features retail areas, business office space, luxury waterfront residential homes and hotels, including the Atlantis Hotel.   Driving to the island, the bridge is the base of the palm trunk. Sadly, the drizzle is becoming heavier now and the visibility even less.

Imagine this on a clear day. Can only imagine.

We head to the Atlantis Mall.

Inside mall

This luxury mall features exclusive shopping and our some of our favorite rest stops, such as Cold Stone Creamery.   We enjoy their ice cream creations frequently.

In the mall

Reminding us that we are in the United Arab Emirates, we spot this sign.

Sign in mall

We were given tickets to the aquarium.

Ticket

Seems everyone is enjoying indoor activities on this drizzly day.  This is some of what we see inside.

So many fish

 

Zeb and Chanel admire fish

 

Not our favorite swimming companion

 

Cute, but deadly

 

Interesting

 

Beautiful colors

To build this island, a large breaker was needed to reduce the damage by the sea.   The environment of this area of the Persian Gulf is changing.   Divers regularly evaluate these changes.   New species of fish are now living in these waters and new reefs are forming. Leaving Palm Island, we imagine the inside of these fabulous buildings.

Palm Island

We hope you visit Palm Jumierah on a sunny day, but even on a drizzly day it is impressive.

More Abu Dhabi and a Dhow Dinner Cruise with Zeb and Chanel.

Riding through Abu Dhabi, humans, duck and bear, are staring, wide eyed at all the development and the many palaces we pass.   Gazing toward the water, we spotted some planes flying low, then a few helicopters over head.   We do not know the occasion, but we enjoyed the colors left by the airplanes.

Celebrating something

Celebrating something

A celebration of some kind?  The palm trees along the streets are so pretty, and tropical.

Love palm trees

Love palm trees in front of a royal palace

Abu Dhabi has many mosques.   Most have speakers in a minaret, to call the worshippers to prayer.

Minaret of mosque with speakers

Minaret of mosque with speakers

Several times each day, we hear this call.   Our ears prefer some voices over others, but there is always the call.  Riding along the coast, we approach the beach area of Corniche.   Here again, we marvel at the innovative design of some new buildings.

Modern architecture

Modern architecture

Looking across the water, we enjoyed the view.

Emirates Palace Hotel across water

Emirates Palace Hotel across water

This is Emirates Palace, an exclusive hotel.   Admission is granted only with a hotel reservation, or a reservation at one of the restaurants.  This view of modern architecture and Emirates Palace my look familiar to many of you.

Old and new on the Persian Gulf

Old and new on the Persian Gulf

We were told that some of the recent movie, Fast and Furious 7, was filmed here.   Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is modern while retaining some older structures.   Abu Dhabi’s oil reserves are expected to last many more years, but this former desert community is now a world business center and tourist destination.   We enjoyed dinner on a Dhow Cruise.   Our boat looked festive with all the lights.

Our boat for evening cruise and dinner

Our boat for evening cruise and dinner

Our buffet dinner, delicious by the way, was served here.   The fish dish was my favorite.

Dinner served here

Dinner served here

After dinner mom and several humans enjoyed green tea with fresh mint leaves.   A nice change to our regular green tea.   Moving to the upper deck, I Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear, enjoyed the evening air and a wonderful view of Abu Dhabi.

Enjoying the evening upstairs after dinner

Enjoying the evening upstairs after dinner

The reflections of city lights on the water is a favorite sight for me.

Abu Dhabi skyline

Abu Dhabi skyline

We all marveled at and admired Abu Dhabi from our Dhow Dinner Cruise.

Abu Dhabi skyscrapers

Abu Dhabi skyscrapers

Such a pleasant evening in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

 

Abu Dhabi Mall and Fish Market with Zeb and Chanel

The humans are hungry again!   Humans do like eat.   Tariq, our guide, says we will go to the mall and everybody can choose their preferred restaurant.  What is this?

Ferris wheel

Ferris wheel

I love ferris wheels, but mom says we do not have enough time.   We enter Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi

Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi

This fountain is a little different than ours at home.   The water comes from above, much like rain.

Fountain inside Marina Mall

Fountain inside Marina Mall

Chanel the Bear and I, Zeb the Duck, did not get very wet.   Too bad, because ducks love water.   And this…

Dinosaur

Dinosaur

A dinosaur in the mall to promote another exhibit.   Very interesting.   Having lunch, the reason for this stop, leads us to this Lebanese restaurant.

Villa Beirut for lunch

Villa Beirut for lunch

We order humus with chick peas.   The humus, similar to paste, lines the bowl.   Accompanied by a bowl of assorted olives, all very tasty, but not overwhelming our taste buds.

Our lunch

Our lunch

The aroma of fresh, warm bread teases our senses.   We eat the bread and then they brought another basket.   Heavenly!   But, don’t forget, we are from the United States so we ordered French Fries from this Lebanese restaurants.   Tasting perfect, they did not last long.   And the Diet Cokes quenched our thirst.   We also drank water with lemon.   A perfect light lunch for humans, duck and bear.   Wandering through the mall, we saw this sign.

Common sign

Common sign

Rather common here, but not usual in our malls at home.   Leaving the mall, the column caught our attention.

Column in Abu Dhabi

Column in Abu Dhabi

A tribute to the royal family, we think.    Next stop is the fish market of Abu Dhabi.

Fish Market of Abu Dhabi

Fish Market of Abu Dhabi

I wonder if this is like the fish market I visited last July in Maputo, Mozambique.   Let’s go inside to see.   Yes, it is.   I love seeing the different kinds of fish.   This man is showing me the fish.

fish market

fish market

Another seller and I am with a human and more fish.

fish market

Fish market with my new friend

Well, what is this he is bringing near me?

fish market. eel??

fish market. eel??

I believe it is an eel.   This man likes me, too.   He thinks I might be hungry.

fish market for a snack

Fish market for a snack

Now, I, Zeb the Duck, am sampling a small fish.   Very nice snack for me.  Mom takes me to this display.

fish market

fish market

Some different kinds of fish here.   I like the fish market, and the sellers are always so nice to me.   My friend, Chanel the Bear, is here also, but she is made of cloth.   Mom can put me in a tub of soapy water and wash me.   If Chanel sat with the fish, she would smell like fish for the entire trip.   Maybe not a good idea, Chanel.   We are happy you watched from your carrying bag.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with Zeb the Duck

We are approaching a huge white building.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

Front of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo from Wikipedia.

The main entrance to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is very impressive.   This photo came from Wikipedia.   This, the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, is also the eighth largest in the world.   Let’s go inside.

Let's go in

Let’s go in

This massive courtyard covers 17,400 square meters.   We love this view with the minarets.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Security is tight here.   There are several security men to prevent tourists from walking in the courtyard.   The floor has colored marble and floral decorations that are twisted and coiled in stunning patterns.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Around the courtyard, we admired the more than one thousand columns.

Columns

Columns

Each column was inspired by the palm tree, and decorated with marble and inlaid with floral designs and semi precious stones from around the world.   Construction for this mosque began in 1996 and was completed in 2007.   Before entering the main prayer hall, shoes must be removed and we passed through this smaller room.   The clock here shows the prayer times for the day.

Prayer times for today

Prayer times for today

We admired one of the seven chandeliers in the mosque.

Chandelier hanging from dome

Chandelier hanging from dome

The seven chandeliers inside the mosque hang from some of the Grand Mosque’s largest domes.   There are 82 domes, the largest with a diameter of 326 meters.   Entering the main prayer hall, the chandeliers catch your attention.

Huge chandelier

Huge chandelier

Here is the largest chandelier in the world, weighing about 12 tonnes.   Made of gilded brass, stainless steel and glass panels, the glass panels are studded with Swarovski crystals.   It is beautiful.   Next we see the Mihrab, the place in a mosque where the Imam leads worshippers in prayer.   This always faces the direction of Mecca.

For Imam

For Imam

This one is gold color and covered with gold glass mosaics.   The Minbar, or pulpit, seen here, is the place the Imam stands to address the worshippers during Friday prayers.   On the wall, in traditional Kufic calligraphy, are the 99 attributes of Allah.   Covering the floor of the main prayer hall we admired the world’s largest hand knotted carpet.

Largest hand knotted carpet

Largest hand knotted carpet

This carpet was  2 year project.   Designed by a third generation carpet maker, Dr. Ali Khaliqi, the hand crafted carpet required 1,200 artisans to complete.    In the main prayer hall there are 96 columns clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl.  Leaving the main prayer hall, we put our shoes on and wandered the halls around the courtyard.    We loved the detail on the columns throughout the mosque.

Great details

Great details

You may have missed seeing me, Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear in these photos.   We were there, but we stayed in our traveling bags.   In many holy places, we are not allowed to sit on things.   But, as you can see, mom did let me sit here, outside the mosque for one photo.

I, Zeb the Duck, was here. So was Chanel the Bear.

I, Zeb the Duck, was here.  So was Chanel the Bear.

And one last photo of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Beautiful

Beautiful

This is one of a few mosques where non Muslims are allowed inside.   We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this beautiful building.

Zeb the Duck Flies to New Places

We left Denver International Airport, changed planes in Los Angeles International Airport, and now learning about our new plane.

What???

What???

I, Zeb the Duck, can only read part of this sign.   Now a picture of our airplane appears.

Over 15 hours??

Over 15 hours??

Mom, does that say 15 hours and 15 minutes to our destination??  This is a long flight!   But the seats were big enough.   The plane was not full.   I am seeing the mountain peaks of California.

California's mountains

California’s mountains

And so much food.

That's a lot of food. And tasty chicken.

That’s a lot of food. And tasty chicken.

We received three meals and many beverages.   All delicious.  A long, but comfortable flight, and we were in the economy class seats.   This was nice.   Out the plane window, I see the lights of Dubai.

Approaching Dubai

Approaching Dubai

This is a huge airport.   We are in the United Arab Emirates, and this country was created December 2, 1971.   Everything is new and very big.   So much shopping here, but no time now.

Always places to shop

Always places to shop

We must clear customs and immigration, get our luggage and meet our tour guide.   We are touring with SmarTours of New York.   We meet Tariq, our guide, get on the bus and head for Abu Dhabi.   From the bus we see this mosque, with green lights.

Mosque at night

Mosque at night

Sheikh Zayed Road leads us from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Zayed Road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

About 2 hours driving through the desert will bring us to Abu Dhabi.   This highway is huge.   We see 5-6 lanes in each direction.   I don’t see much traffic now, but they say sometimes there are many vehicles.   We will stay in Abu Dhabi three nights, at the Southern Sun Hotel.

Southern Sun. Our home for 3 nights

Southern Sun. Our home for 3 nights

The lights move on the front of our hotel.   We have a nice, bright lobby.

Lobby of Southern Sun. Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

Lobby of Southern Sun. Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

And you can now see who is here with us!   Chanel the Bear, my good friend, and her mom are in Abu Dhabi.   We will have so much fun traveling together.  I, Zeb the Duck, wanted to find the swimming pool.   It is an outdoor pool on the top floor of the Southern Sun.

Southern Sun pool

Southern Sun pool

A little chilly now, so I won’t stay in here long.   Looking through the glass wall, it is a long way down.

From top of Southern Sun Hotel

From top of Southern Sun Hotel

Chanel and I, Zeb, take our moms for a walk around our neighborhood.   We saw many new things, several small shops and restaurants.   Even a money exchange office to change US dollars into United Arab Emirates dirhams.   We receive about 3.65 dirhams for each US dollar. Carefully sitting on the railing, we wanted to show you how wide the highways are in Abu Dhabi.

Wide highways through Abu Dhabi

Wide highways through Abu Dhabi

We love wide streets.   Walking on side streets, we are happy that most countries in the world use the same type of stop sign.

Stop sign

Stop sign

Isn’t this fun to see?   It is exciting to see new things.   Chanel and I, Zeb, want to show you so many things about our trip to the United Arab Emirates.   We hope you keep reading.