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.


To The Desert With Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

Oh no moms!   Really?  We are flying back home tomorrow?   It’s too soon.   But, our moms say, yes, our time here is almost over.   What to do on our last afternoon and evening?   Well, we are surrounded by desert, so let’s go to the desert.   In our tourist vans, looking out the window, Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear, watch the desert.

Zeb and Chanel going into the desert

Some plant growth here, but lots of sand.   Further from Dubai, the plants are more sparse.

Further into desert. Fewer plants

Our driver stops the van, slightly deflates the tires, and into the desert we go.   No roads here, just hills of sand, or sand dunes.   This is a crazy ride and we love it.   After parking in the sand, the duck, the bear and the humans get out to wander among the sand dunes.

Huge sand dunes here

It is pretty warm, but this was February, winter in the desert, so it was nice.   None of those horribly hot summer days.

Zeb and Chanel on the desert dunes

Chanel and Zeb look and feel rather small in the desert.   Eventually, back in the 4 wheel drive vans, we continue through the desert, adding a little air to the tires and get on the highway.   Wow!   Look what is waiting for us.

Ready to ride a camel. Camel is close to sand when we get on

Camels.   We are going to ride a camel, with our moms, of course.   When the camel stands up, we feel like we will fall over the camel’s head and into the sand.   But we don’t.  We are on the second camel in this photo.

Riding camel. We are on second camel. A little scary when camel stands up

Is our camel trying to get closer to a camel friend?   Yes, and he does get close.   Chanel’s mom even has a bruise on her leg from this camel encounter.   But we all have fun.   After the camel ride, we progress to the area set for us.   These dates are so good.

Snacks before dinner. Those dates are delicious!

The sweet balls are also wonderful.   The tables are set for us.

Tables are ready for us

We, and other groups of humans, will eat here.   Our buffet is to be wonderful.   We believe it.   All our food has been very good.   Before eating, the humans get henna tattoos.   A beautiful young Arabian lady applies the tattoos.

Humans got henna tattoo.

By morning, the raised henna will fall off, leaving the lines on human hands.   Those tattoos did look good in the morning.   Our moms went home with tattoos!   The birds of prey hunt in the desert.

This bird will soon fly for us.   He has his helmet on.

This guy will soon perform for us.   He flies fast and sees very well at night.

Bird flies and dives. Birds of Prey hunt at night. They are fast.  Great carpets here.

This bird is putting on a show now, but when free, he will hunt for his dinner.   Now it is getting dark.   The human entertainers begin.


This man twirled very fast and for a very long time.   Most humans would get dizzy and fall down, but not this man.   While twirling, he unwraps yards of cloth making different, flowing articles of clothing.   Next the female dancer begins to dance, with her cape flying in the wind.


Since it is now dark, the photography is finished.   After the dancers, the buffet lines begin.   Everything was so tasty and good.   And there was a lot of different foods to try.   And we sampled many things.   After the buffet, more entertainment and then our drive back to Dubai and the Hyatt Regency.   A wonderful ending to a wonderful trip.

Zeb Visits Pink Flamingos in Dubai

As a Colorado Traveling Duck, I am always happy to see other birds.   I took mom to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary to see the migratory pink flamingos that spend the winter in Dubai.   Here we are.

Here we are at the Wildlife Sanctuary

Here we are at the Wildlife Sanctuary

The tide is out, so the flamingos rest rather far from us.   Let’s follow the path to see them.

Let's go

Let’s go

Walls are made of palm fronds.

Walls of palm fronds

Walls of palm fronds

Isn’t that so tropical?   What?  The Flamingo Hide?

Flamingo Hide

Flamingo Hide

Oh, we call this a flamingo blind, where we watch the beautiful pink flamingos without frightening them.   Hundreds of fellow birds waiting to meet me, Zeb the Duck.

Hundreds of distant cousins

Hundreds of distant cousins

Many flamingos sleep; they do not seem comfortable with twisted necks, but that is how they rest.

Some are looking at me

Some are looking at me

Some finished napping and with heads up acknowledge the human and duck visitors.   After much watching, photographs and binocular time, we follow our driver back down the path.

Following our driver

Following our driver

Pretty purple flowers grabbed our attention as we approached the car.

Pretty flowers

Pretty flowers.  And in the desert climate of Dubai.

The flamingos spend the winter very close to downtown Dubai.

Flamingos are close to downtown Dubai

Flamingos are close to downtown Dubai

Through the haze, blowing sand, and ever present construction cranes, we view the many skyscrapers of downtown.   We believe there is a plan for building near the flamingos, to protect the winter visits of flamingos, and continue the development of Dubai.   As a duck, I am concerned about all birds, but I have a faith in everything working out well.   What do you think?

Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates with Zeb and Chanel

November 2005, Mall of the Emirates opened in Dubai.   It was huge, it was exciting and it was new.   Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear explored this mall.

Mall of the Emirates

It is beautiful.   In the 12 years since it open, Mall of the Emirates has added something.   Ski Dubai, a real indoor ski area is inside this mall.

Ski Dubai

This is not a cute model snow village.   This is life size and humans play inside.   Here is part of the track for riding on sleds, similar to the luge.


We, Zeb the Duck, and Chanel the Bear, are watching skiers at the top of the photo and other humans enjoying the tubing hill at the bottom of the photo.

Skiing and tubing

These huge balls are fun.   Humans get inside and down the hill they go.

Humans inside balls

Also here, but not visible from the windows, is a penguin encounter.   Real penguins are inside and humans see them and learn about them, and then humans can touch and hug the penguins.   Imagine–penguins in the desert.   This mall has three levels with over 700 stores.

Mall of the Emirates

Inside the Mall of the Emirates there are several restaurants and cafes.

Mall of the Emirates

We really liked the outside wall of Hollister of California.

Hollister of California

This a surfing video and you can watch the surfers actually surf.   We liked it a lot.  As always, shopping and looking makes the humans, duck and bear hungry.   In the Cafe Moritz, we had a table by the window looking into the ski area.   It was fun to see humans skiing.   And, to add to the skiing atmosphere, we really enjoyed this fireplace.

Cafe Moritz fireplace

This mall also has theaters and Magic Planet.   Magic Planet is the largest indoor family interment center in Dubai.   This mall is fun for tourists like us, but if we lived here, we would probably be here a lot during the extremely hot summer months.   Dubai certainly has many attractions to offer.

The World’s Tallest Building with Zeb and Chanel

From Dubai Mall, the largest mall, in area, in the world, we visited the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.

Burj Khalifa from http://www.BurjKhalifa.ae

Through the mall, near the lower level food court, we joined the line to take the elevator to the observation deck.   The elevator stopped at Level 124.

124th Floor of Burj Khalifa

The largest observation deck is on levels 124 and 125 with a spiral staircase connecting the two levels.   Some of our favorite photos, through glass, from the observation deck.

From the top

Very impressive highway system in Dubai.   And another direction.

View from the top

Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf, near the meeting of the Arabian Sea.  Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear look out.

Zeb and Chanel at the top

Is this almost the top of the world?

Zeb and Chanel at top of Burj Khalifa

Some pretty heavy clouds up here.   Humans, especially young humans, like to sit in unusual chairs.

Resting place

We like these chairs.   Yes, Dubai really is in the desert.

City in the desert

Sand in the distance.   Let’s look straight down.

Straight down to pool

Burj Khalifa has 4 pools, in additional to lounges and health and wellness facilities.   More proof that the desert was here before the city.   You can imagine the view of the Dubai Fountain water show from here.

Built on the edge of the desert

Burj Khalifa contains retail space and office space.   The Armani Hotel Dubai and Armani Residences are also housed in Burj Khalifa.   The world’s tallest building is 2,716.5 feet or 828 meters tall.   In the lobby area of the observation deck is this stunning chandelier.

Beautiful chandelier over stairs connecting levels 124 and 125, the main observation decks

In addition to the other world records, Burj Khalifa boasts the highest library on level 123.   The world records are nice, but the views are better.   When in Dubai, we suggest you visit Burj Khalifa’s observation deck.   We, humans, duck and bear were very happy we did.

World’s Largest Mall with Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

Dubai Mall is the largest mall, by area, in the world and we are here.   Over 1,200 shops, over 120 restaurant and cafes and 22 cinema screens wait for us.  But, not only us.   This mall needs humans to control the traffic here.

Traffic control at mall entrance

But, we want to see what will greet us when we go inside.   This wall of wall is gorgeous, and all this water in the desert.

Waterfall Atrium

We are in Waterfall Atrium.   Just look at those divers.   Here is the Quicksilver store.   We have these stores at home, but we have never seen a surfing video of surfers near the entrance of Quicksilver.

Surfing video outside Quicksilver store

We, and most American shoppers, love Bloomingdales.

Bloomingdales of Dubai

Many Dubai shoppers also love Bloomies.  In 2010 Bloomingdales opened their first store outside of the United States, here in the Dubai Mall.   This store is huge with three levels of shopping.  We love Bloomingdales, but we did not come to the largest mall in the world to shop at stores we have at home.   We, Zeb and Chanel, want to see Dubai Fountain.

Dubai Fountain

The lagoon here is really big.   There are a few fountains and we heard that the fountains dance to music, like they do at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.   But this is bigger.   Looking for a place to have dinner and view the water show, we cross the bridge over the lagoon and enter Souk al Bahar.

Souk al Bahar

Up to the second floor, expecting a better view, we discovered Abd el wahab, a Lebanese restaurant.

Abd el wahab Our Lebanese restaurant

Let’s have dinner here.   There is a balcony with a magnificent view of the dancing water show.   We watched three different shows with different types of music.

Water show Dubai Fountain

There is a show every 30 minutes.  The building behind the Dubai Fountain is Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Burj Khalifa behind Dubai Fountain

But we will show more of that another day.  After dinner we return to the mall.

Inside Dubai Mall

Beautiful inside, isn’t it?  Did you know that this mall has an Olympic size ice skating rink?   I, Zeb the Duck, and Chanel the Bear, love to watch ice skaters.

Zeb and Chanel watch skaters at Dubai Mall

They seem to move gracefully, as they glide over the ice.   But, there is more to see.   A huge aquarium is also inside Dubai Mall.

Many fish in aquarium

We did not even go inside the aquarium, this is what we saw from the mall.

Our friend in the aquarium

It is nice that humans, ducks and bears can see so much of the aquarium while shopping and wandering around the mall.   They don’t have to take the time to go inside the aquarium.

View inside aquarium

We can see the stores and reflections of lights through the aquarium.  But we heard that inside is spectacular, so if you have time, check it out.   Oh, if we had not just eaten, we would want to go here, to the Rainforest Cafe.

Rainforest Cafe

We love the Rainforest Cafe and the one in Denver is closed.   But we enjoyed our Lebanese restaurant, and we came to Dubai to have new experiences.   We are happy humans, duck and bear.   When in Dubai, we hope you take time for a visit to Dubai Mall.   It is a great place.

The Dubai Museum

Let’s go to the oldest building in Dubai.   Al Fahidi Fort was built in 1787 and in 1971 became the main museum in Dubai.

Dubai Museum

As we approached Dubai Museum, a stop to admire this traditional boat was appreciated.

Traditional boat

As proof that this was a fort used to guard the landward approaches to the town from the raids of neighboring tribes, we spotted a canon and cannonballs.

Canon with canon balls

Before entering the museum we wandered around the courtyard.   This well intrigued us.

Well in courtyard of museum

Isn’t is impressive?  Time for us to enter Dubai Museum.

Going inside

After descending the spiral stairs we find ourselves on a path viewing dioramas of life in Dubai, before oil.   Today the museum is very crowded, so Chanel and I must stay in our traveling bags.   This man builds and fixes things.

He worked with these tools

See his tools at the front of the picture?   This man is teaching and the students are reading.   They all sit on the floor.

Studying and teaching

A very necessary person in any society, the tailor is busy at his sewing machine.

The tailor

These are traditional costumes.  We love the bright color of her dress.   And, of course, the gold around her neck.

Traditional customs

Continuing on the path we encounter these men building a boat, or a dhow.

Building a boat

Before oil, pearls were a major economic force.   The pearl diver is searching underwater.   This was a very difficult and dangerous job.   You may notice that the diver is not wearing oxygen tanks.

Diving for pearls

Nets are always needed and always need repairing.

Making nets

Here we see how the inside of a Bedouin tent looked.

Inside of Bedouin tent

We saw skeletons from the archaeological site in Al Qusais area that goes back to 3000 B.C.   The items in this room are from archaeological finds of Al Qusais.


Although the museum was very crowded, we enjoyed seeing how life in Dubai was before the discovery of oil.   Our moms did not want to go into the gift shop, but we did see what was offered from this view.

Gift shop

They said we will have time for shopping another day.   Maybe we will visit some of the other souks we heard about.   That would be fun also.

Zeb and Chanel Go Shopping in Dubai

Back on the bus.   We hurry as we don’t want to be left behind.   But it is hard to leave the beach–even when hazy.   Oh, we are going shopping now?   OK   Let’s go.   Entering Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

Entering Souk Madinat Jumeirah

This looks new and pretty fancy.   Near the entrance arch, we can see Burj Arab.

Burj Arab, still hazy

We just left that beach.   Inside the souk, we see many things that we do not see at the Denver, Colorado malls.   These are great shoes.

Fancy shoes

Our moms look, but no new shoes coming with us.   This is my new friend.

I love meeting new friends

He is selling more things we do not often see at home.   Mom and I go to antique shops at home and we think this store looks very interesting.

Sindbad Antiques

But, after walking around more of this area, we realize we are out of time.   The bus is taking us to our hotel, The Hyatt Regency.

Hyatt Regency Hotel

We are near Dubai Creek in the Deira area of Dubai.   That is a revolving restaurant at the top of our Hyatt.   Chanel the Bear, and I, Zeb the Duck, took our moms there one evening.

We ate here. Loved it!

The food was great, the views suburb and we had a lovely evening.   But, our human moms forgot to take pictures of us.   What to do with those humans?  Entering the Hyatt Regency we loved all the red roses.

I love red roses

The lobby is decorated with many fresh flowers and thousands of small lights.

Festive lobby

It seemed so festive for a small bear and a rubber duck.   I love spiral staircases.

Spiral staircase and a boat. I love it!

And I especially loved this ship.

Our hotel has a shopping arcade, and do you know what else?   We have an ice skating rink in our hotel.

Ice skating rink in our hotel. And a snack bar.

Our hotel has a roof top pool.

Roof top pool

The roof top restaurant would be a perfect place for Chanel and I to have lunch.   However, the humans were too busy trying to see many things in Dubai.   Nice to know that they are ready if we want dinner and it gets a little cool.

It does get cool in the desert.

This hotel, and all of Dubai, seem to be ready for anything.

Always prepared

Aren’t these flowers and large pots beautiful?


We really like the Hyatt Regency and Dubai is fascinating.

Lunch at Dubai Marina with Zeb and Chanel

We animals are getting hungry.   So, let’s go to Dubai’s marina for lunch.

Dubai Marina

Remember, Dubai is a little short on coastline, so this marina was built, with canals offering more water front property.   The menu at Salsa’s Restaurant appeals to us.

Menu at Salsa Restaurant. Zeb and Chanel approve.

After ordering, we admire the view from our table.

Dubai Marina from Salsa Restaurant

Our food is here.   This is great.

Lunch at Salsa’s

The french fries are delicious and plentiful.   Look, we each received two sliders, or smaller hamburgers.   But they really aren’t very small.   So much food.   We appreciate the umbrella over our table, as it once again begins to drizzle.   In Dubai, we are in awe of the many skyscrapers, and the new, innovative architecture.   We believe the twisted buildings withstand higher winds without damage.

A water park. For a sunnier day.

Driving to the beach we hope to get a good view of what some say is the most luxurious hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab.   Here we are, but the fog and drizzle are still obstructing the view.   Through the haze, we admire Burj Al Arab.

Burj Al Arab

But wait, hey mom, I think she wants me.    Yep, that young girl wanted me.

Burj Al Arab and a narrow escape for Zeb the Duck

Now I feel sad that she is sad.   Mom puts me back in my traveling bag.   This hotel is designed from the sail of dhow ships, formerly the main boat in the Persian Gulf.   After the design was accepted, an island needed to be built, as a ship does not sail on land.   And more coastline was created.   We love beaches, so another photo of Dubai’s beach.


Riding these vehicles on the sand is so much fun.


But today the weather is not great for beach activities.   Mom seems fascinated by this building with windows resembling a staircase.

New, innovative building design

Dubai certainly shows so many new ideas.   We love this city.

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.


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




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.