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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Around Dubai

The first real stop on our half-day city tour wlas the Jumeirah Mosque.

It's a beautiful building with tons of details and ornate decorations on the outside. It's open to the public, including non-Muslims, to enter and to tour. There was already another group going inside, so we remained outside (in the sweltering heat!).

Our tour guide explained a little bit to us about how Muslims worship and some of their regular rituals when attending Mosque.

There was a beautiful little gazebo on the property and we were told it was a gathering point after services to visit in the shade.

There were also all these beautiful trees (and many others) around town. They'd obviously all been planted in the last few decades, as we were smack dab in the middle of a serious desert.

Many of them are actually date trees, as dates are a very popular food in the area.

The next (not really a stop but more of a drive-by) on our tour was the palaces of Sheikh Mohammad and Rashid Palace. Photography is not allowed near the compound, so I grabbed this quick photo through our windshield as we approached the guard shack. See the gun?

The one interesting thing that we did see on the "Palace Driveway" were dozens of peacocks.

Sorry for the big of blur, but they were in the shade. I've never been this close to one, especially some that were this big and so beautiful!

Next stop was Dubai Creek. This was a sleep, lazy little creek a few decades back, but the government did quite a bit of dredging (see Palm Jumeirah) and has made it much deeper, wider and more accessible for boats during high and low tide. There are tons of tour boats and dinner boats like the one above that will cruise up and down the creek for your pleasure.

It's a bit difficult to see, but there were a few big name, global corporations that had buildings or offices along the creek. These buidings seem so small and normal compared to the mega-structures everywhere else in Dubai. I think this is the "old" part of town ;)

Next stop was "Old Dubai". Anything more than 50 years old or so is considered "old" in these parts. Dubai was once a sleepy little port that was a rest places for traders and other merchants of the middle east.

It was neat walking through these old buildings and reminded me of wandering around the small alleys of Venice (minus the water!).

Many local artists and shopkeepers have made their stores in these old buildings, including some great art galleries with beautiful courtyards.

Next stop was the Al Fahidi Fort & Museum. It was (obviously) once a fort used to defend the very small city.

The inside area was full of interesting and informative displays- mostly about fishing and trade, showing how the city was once filled with desert nomads & how it has evolved.

My mom always tells me I don't have enough "people pictures", so I'll throw one in of myself in front of the fort. I wasn't sure of the proper clothing to go touring in Dubai, so I grabbed some lightweight pants & a lightweight long sleeve shirt over my top. I learned that Dubai, more so than other areas of the UAE, was very liberal with respect to clothing standards and moderate length shorts would have been fine.

Inside the museum, was a re-creation of a nomadic hut (house?) similar to the types used before skyscrapers. I really can't imagine living out in those temperatures (regularly up to 110F in the summer), but they had devised this clever way to re-direct wind and funnel it into the house. It actually worked pretty well (provided there was a breeze).

The museum contained several displayed discussing the people and their culture- weapons and music. I was fascinated that they'd live in these thatched houses- wouldn't the sand blow right through in a good sand storm?

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Ahhhh! The weekend....we've got quite a few chores & catching up to do still, but it's so good to be home!

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