Daily Archives: March 13, 2019

5 March: second day in Dubai – Part II

After spending the morning exploring Dubai, we went back to our hotel lobby to be picked up for an overnight tour to the desert

Azeeze from the Arabian Adventures Tour company arrived to pick us up. We are staying at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This reserve started in 2000 to turn barren desert into a reserve with the dual purpose of
1. Reintroducing endangered species and disappearing desert habitats
2. Supporting Dubai tourism

A large area was fenced off and a number of laws changed to ensure the reserve would be protected. 70 descendants of Arabian Oryx were flown from America and let loose in the reserve. Plants were planted and all linked into the irrigation system. A number of bush areas for animal shelters were established.

The reserve now has numerous Oryx called Oryx Leucoryx, plus Arabian Gazelle and Lizards such as the Spiny Tailed Lizard. The animals are protected – any poachers face the death penalty. If you run over an animal and you are not an Emirati citizen, you are instantly deported.

As well as this there are a number of birds including an Arabian buzzard. The animals are all fed three times a day, and are happy to let you come right up to them in the car.

We are staying overnight but you can also have a tour to go sandboarding, or to watch the sunset, or have a sunset dinner in the desert. Once we got to the reserve we had about 45 min of 4 wheel driving over the dunes which I didn’t enjoy as I get quite bad motion sickness. Thankfully I didn’t need to use one of the vomit bags in the seats.

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Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve for Overnight Desert Safari

After the four wheel drive we had a sunset camel ride which was fun but getting on, and up, and then balancing while the camel sat back down was a bit scary.IMG_7199.jpgIMG_7195The riding was ok once you got the hang of it. About 20 min into the ride a funny looking bird (which I found out later was a buzzard) came racing across the sand and stayed with us all the way into camp. Apparently he does this every night and stays around until the tour leaves the next day. IMG_7221.jpg
The camp was beautifully set out, lovely raked sand and very nice individual tents, with a fire pit surrounded by cushions, an open eating area and open lounge.

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Desert overnight camp

The only drawback is there isn’t an en-suite in the tents. The showers are in a hut with cold water, and a shared shower space which certainly won’t be used by me.

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Overnight tent

There are 15 guests altogether, the other 13 are all from a cruise ship called the Constellation, but none of the couples knew each other before tonight. A pretty good bunch of people and everyone ended up talking to each other before too long about places they had been or were planning to go.

The dinner was served after dark and the only drawback was you couldn’t see what you were eating as the light was quite dim. There was plenty of food – beef and chicken kebab, grilled fish, salad, and humus etc.

After dinner everyone sat round the fire chatting and one of the other guides bought out two hookah (galyan) pipes with flavoured tobacco. He was really disappointed that no one was willing to give it go, so me and one of the other women said we would. The taste was strawberry and was fine so long as you just took it into your mouth.

 

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On the hookah pipe

After another hour or so it was time for bed. Fingers crossed I don’t have to get up more than once.

Strange to think by the time I go to sleep tomorrow night I will be in Nairobi Kenya.

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Bustard doesn’t mind the Persian Rug

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Out in the desert

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5 March: second day in Dubai, part 1

After 10 hours sleep I am feeling a lot better and ready to continue exploring Dubai. After breakfast, we headed back up to the big bus stop to finish the red route. Once again we went past all the malls and skyscrapers, then into the older part of Dubai. This is where you find the gold, spice, and fabric markets, plus the museum.

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which was formed on 2 Dec 1971, and consists of Abu Dhabi (the capital and cultural center), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. Ras Al Khaimah joined 10th of Feb 1972.

Each Emirate has a separate ruler and together form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the Emirates rulers is the president. The elections are every 5 years and there is no limit on the amount of terms a president can serve. There are 9.2 million people in UAE, of which 7.8 million are expatriates.

Even if you are born in UAE and work there all your life you are not entitled to permanent residency and have to leave there within one month of turning 60. You also have no entitlement to a pension. If you do not leave within a month you get fines which get increasingly expensive.
If you own property you have right of residency of 99 years but you have to be able to support yourself.

Dubai is not as oil rich as some of the other Emirates and has worked hard to reduce its dependency on oil. Oil now only makes up 7% of the GNP.

The Emirate citizens are nearly all Muslim, and you hear the call to prayer 5 times a day. The % is 85% Sunni, 15% Shia and a small number of Shias and Ahmad. Religious tolerance is practiced and there is no friction. Both men and woman go to the Mosques to pray, but there are separate sections for men and woman.  On the street you see a number of men in white robes called throne and woman in black called abaya and covered heads is hijab. Everyone here speaks English so it is really easy to get around.

We got off the big bus at the stop where we had the Dhow ride. Was great going for an hours ride up the creek and back. We could see our hotel from the Dhow, plus a number of other Dhow, water taxi and some huge super yacht. One of the super yacht was made entirely from wood which was highly polished and must take a huge amount of up keep.

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Dhow boat ride

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Our hotel Radisson Blu

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Timber mega yacht

After the Dhow ride we walked along the creek front, back to the hotel. We past a number of Dhow being loaded up with goods to go to India and Pakistan. There were huge mounds of goods ranging from fridges, air conditioning units, to fabric. There are no cranes – all the goods are loaded by hand.

When we got back to the hotel we packed and got ready to be picked up for our overnight tour to the desert. We had lunch at the hotel pub, decided to try the burger and beer. Burger was ok beer choice was limited and I ended up with Heineken beer. How tastes change – I used to like Heineken beer.

Then to the hotel lobby to await the pickup (to be continued).

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Dubai Marina area

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Marina district

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Jaw dropping use of glass on the high rise facades

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Water taxi for crossing the Creek

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Millionaire’s boats

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