14

Z – ZAYED | #AtoZChallenge

Z – Zayed | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Wherever you are in Dubai or in fact, the whole of UAE you are bound to come across one name – Zayed or Sheikh Zayed. Everything, from roads to hospitals, from malls to mosques, from universities to airports and from monuments to museums has been named after him and you can see his portraits proudly displayed. He is popularly known as ‘Father of their nation’ and last year Dubai, along with UAE, celebrated the ‘Year of Zayed’.

The year 2018 marked 100 years since the birth of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, who passed away in 2004. His son and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, had declared that 2018 will officially be known in the UAE as the Year of Zayed – to commemorate this historic national occasion.

Sheikh Zayed always promoted and encouraged multicultural diversity and is evident from the ‘open-door-open-culture’ policy at various monuments including the Grand Mosque and Jumeirah Mosque. Consistent with his values the Year of Zayed involved people of all ages, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds in the UAE and internationally. During his reign, he was considered one of the most liberal rulers and leaders among leaders of all the Gulf countries.

The Year of Zayed had the following vision and mission:

Vision: A year-long, international commemoration in celebration of the life, legacy and values of an inspirational world leader, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the United Arab Emirates.

Mission: Commemorate the life, values and achievements of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as an inspirational world leader, encouraging future generations to honor his legacy and fulfill his vision of prosperity, tolerance and peace.

It theme of the “Year of Zayed’ revolved around the values of wisdom, respect, sustainability and human development.

The ‘Year of Zayed’ did not only have domestic reach but it was very well recognized worldwide. British Museum named a gallery after Sheikh Zayed to acknowledge the UAE leader’s lifelong commitment to heritage and culture. The main street in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, was named after the late leader. Stockholm Mosque, in Stockholm, Sweden is also known as Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s Mosque.

There are many things named after him in UAE to commemorate his legacy. The Sheikh Zayed road is the most important road in Dubai as it serves as a lifeline to the whole of Dubai and further connects Sharjah-Dubai-Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a modern wonder of the world. Zayed University, a government-sponsored higher education institution with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

He is often referred to as ‘the man who turned the desert green’. I have a twist to this, for me, he is the man ‘who turned the sand of the desert into gold’.

What you see of Dubai and UAE today and their importance whether it is in tourism or export-import or oil exports, it can all be attributed to their wonderful leadership. I believe no place on Earth has seen so much transformation in the last century where a generation in their life went from being poor nomads to creating the world’s tallest structures.

I would like to end this post and this challenge based on my theme – ‘Dubai – City of Gold’ by quoting some of my favorite quotes from Sheikh Zayed.

The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education.

Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to building the individual, and to using the wealth, which God has provided us in the service of the nation.

Islam affords women their rightful status and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded appropriate respect.

No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind the progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who has been a part of this journey. This was the first time I was attempting this challenge and that too with two themes. I am elated and relieved both at the same time that I could reach the finish line. To all those who became friends on this journey called life – Welcome aboard! To others my heartfelt wishes for your future endeavors and a biiigggg hug.

I will forever cherish this experience of pursuing my passion with patience and persistence.

For all those who were part of this wonderful journey,

For all those who believe in women equality,

For all those who live in the city of Dubai,

And

For all those who believe in the vision of Sheikh Zayed…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 26th and last post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

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16

Y – Yas Island | #AtoZChallenge

Y – Yas Island | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

The previous post discussed the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and I highlighted that try to club your trip with other attractions across the city. Well, let me today take you to one such place where you will get multiple options across all interest levels. I am talking about the best place in Abu Dhabi – Yas Island.

Yas Island is an island in Abu Dhabi – multipurpose leisure, entertainment and shopping center. It was started in 2006 by Abu Dhabi based Aldar properties and is spread across a staggering 25 sq km. It is one of the most astounding manmade wonders and on days it feels as if both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are in a race to outwit each other that which one will come up with a more opulent island.

If you truly want to experience the best of Abu Dhabi, then head to Yas Island. It is about a 40-min drive away from the city center. I already gave you a glimpse of the adventurous side of Yas Island through the Ferrari World. Read the full post here.

Top attractions and places to visit on Yas Island.

Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi

As the name suggests, it is a Warner Bros. characters based adventure theme park. Everyone wanted to get an insider look on what it is like to live like a superhero – this park lets you do exactly that. You can unleash the superhero in you and get to relive those childhood fantasies through its six different zones – Warner Bros. Plaza, Metropolis, Gotham City, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and Dynamite Gulch.

Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Waterworld

In continuation with adventurous theme parks, let me take you to something totally unique – Yas Waterworld. It is the best waterpark in UAE along with Aquaventure in Dubai. The most impressive feature of the park is its theme – ‘The Legend of the Lost Pearl’ that pays tribute to the Emirati heritage of Pearl Diving, usually water parks aren’t theme based.

Thanks to its 45 exhilarating slides, attractions, and rides out of which 5 of them are the world’s firsts, the Los Angeles Times named it the ‘second best waterpark in the world.’

Yas Marina Circuit

If you aren’t satisfied with the gravity-defying rollercoasters at Ferrari World and the adrenaline-charged slides of the Yas Waterworld and you really want to try your hand at one of the F1 cars then Yas Marina Circuit is the place to be.

Dive in the driving seat of an Aston Martin GT4 to a single-seater Formula 3000 Yas racing car show your mettle and driving skills on the 5.5 km track. It got global fame once it got on the F1 Calendar and is open all throughout the year for speed enthusiasts. Treat it as a warning the adventure can cause a severe hole in your pockets.

Seawings at Yas Marina

If you still have budget left after the ride around the marina circuit, try another unique experience – Seawings at Yas Marina. One has to skydive to enjoy the magnanimous beauty of Palm Jumeirah, here it is a lot convenient and less scary. Get on to a state-of-the-art Cessna seaplane at Seawings and fly over the Yas Island along with aerial views of Emirates Palace, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Abu Dhabi mangroves during the 25-minute flight.

Yas Mall

Yas Mall is to Abu Dhabi, what Dubai Mall is to Dubai. It is the main hot spot for people living in Abu Dhabi and the traveler visiting the city. It offers you an ultimate shopping experience through its 370 retail outlets. Watch out for the growing plant wall and the two 12m-high tree-themed sculptures by acclaimed South African artist Marco Cianfanelli, with leaves inspired by Arabic calligraphy.

Yas Marina

Yas Marine is promoted as a dock-dine-discover destination. Like the Dubai Marina, it is a scintillating place with 227-berth marina featuring 9 licensed restaurants and lounges, which cater to all taste buds and budgets. Sitting alongside the water promenade enjoy a drink with snacks with the views of the Yas Viceroy hotel and F1 circuit in the backdrop.

Yas Links

Yas Links is a golf course designed by Kyle Philips and is the best golf course in UAE. It is ranked 24th World’s best Golf courses outside the USA (Golf Digest USA, 2012). After a perfect day of golf make sure to head to their impeccable club for food and drinks.

Yas Viceroy

Yas Beach

An island is incomplete without a beach for the whole family – Yas beach is the perfect getaway from the adventure and thrill of the island. Located in a quiet corner spend a relaxing day with children activity, dining and water sports options.

Yas Viceroy

Yas Viceroy is a unique five-star property on Yas Island. It is the first hotel in the world to be built over an F1 race circuit. You will be simply blown away with its futuristic design and dazzling architecture. On the weekend of F1 race, there is no better place in the world to stay and I am sure you will still not find any of its 499 extravagant rooms vacant.

Where to Eat

Nolu’s Café – it is a place where Afghanistan meets California – the menu-spin comes from the secret recipes of the owner’s Afghan mother.

Felini Garden – It is an open terrace restaurant-bar renowned for its epic all-Italian Friday brunch.

Meylas – It is an amazing place to explore the Emirati flavors.

Stars ‘N’ Bars – it is located in Yas Marina and is voted Abu Dhabi’s best sports bar.

Cipriani – The fusion of Emirati design and Italian food with a terrace that looks out over the grandstands of the Yas Marina Circuit.

Café Bateel – Bateel is famous for its Arabian dates, try out the café version of Bateel where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East.

Tawa Bakery – Gluten free contemporary bakery in the Al Muneer Beach development area.

Getting There

Yas Island has very good public transport connectivity. Yas Express is their complimentary free bus shuttle service that will take you around all the attractions across the Island. Taxis are frequently available round the clock. One can also explore Yas by bike via ADCB Bikeshare, a bicycle sharing system powered by Cyacle that operates 24/7.

There are a plethora of options for everyone whether you are an adventure junkie, a shopaholic, a nature lover, a foodie or a traveler. Just say Yes to Yas Island.

For all the foodies out there,

For all the adventure freaks,

For all the explorers,

And

For all who say Yes to Yas…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 25th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the final post with the letter ‘Z’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

Image ref:

Post banner: https://visitabudhabi.ae/en/explore/islands/yas.island.aspx

#YasIsland: https://www.traveldailymedia.com/yas-island-eid-al-adha-events/

Yas Viceroy: Image by Beatrice Schmuki from Pixabay

Marina Circuit: Image by wendy1704 from Pixabay

 

21

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Today let me take you to the ‘Taj Mahal’ of the Middle East – their star attraction.

The Grand Mosque or as it is popularly known, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. It is the largest mosque in the country and one of the largest mosques in the world. The sheer whiteness of the structure makes it comparable to Taj Mahal (maybe because I am an Indian) as there is hardly any other building in the world like this. If you are visiting in the after, it is literally blinding for the naked eye to stare at the monument.

It is an important place for daily prayers, Friday gatherings and Eid prayers. The mosque has a massive capacity and on Eid, it can accommodate up to 41000 people. The construction of the mosque started in 1996 and it took about twelve years to complete.

While Entering

This mosque is unlike other mosques that you would find around the world. Its uniqueness lies in its architecture that captures seamless interactions between Islam and world cultures. Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different parts of the world including many Muslim civilizations. He wanted the mosque to stand out as a symbol for togetherness of cultural diversity and heritage.

One look at the Mosque and you will feel that it is a celebration of cultural diversity. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration was borrowed parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries. Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky designed it, which covers an area of 22,412 square meters and was made in collaboration with 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies.

The Main area inside

It has soon become one of the most popular destinations not only in the UAE but in the whole world. In 2017 it saw a staggering 3.4 mn visitors and Tripadvisor rated it as the world’s second most favorite landmark with only Angor Wat in Cambodia beating it to the top spot.

It was made at a whopping cost of AED 2bn and is world’s third largest mosque with its 82 domes carved out of white marble, 1096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and the awe-inspiring seven handmade 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

The Grand Mosque also holds three Guinness World records to its name – the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, the biggest chandelier and the largest dome of its kind.

The beautiful arches

The world’s largest carpet measures 5,627 sqm (60,570 sq ft) and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knitters putting in an astounding 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). The carpet alone took approximately two years to complete.

When you enter during sunlight the spectacular ancient-cut domes, the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall will mesmerize you. The pool looks surreal at night, which is illuminated reflecting the mosque’s columns.

It is named after UAE’s founding figure, Sheikh Zayed and after his death in 2004; he was buried in the mosque’s courtyard. Just like the Taj Mahal, its radiating brilliance lies in its carvings and patterns on the columns, which are studded with precious gems and stones like amethyst and Jasper.

To promote an open-culture-open-door policy the mosque is open for everyone and that too free of cost. One can also go for a one-hour guided tour of the mosque and this is also completely free – it definitely worth signing for as it gives an insight into the structure, heritage and architecture.

The Largest Chandelier

The mosque is always full of visitors but its extravagant size makes it feel very spacious and you will not feel cramped or overcrowded.

Timings: 9:00am – 22:00 Saturday-Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays

During Ramadan – 9:00am-14:00 Saturday-Thursday and the mosque is completely closed on Fridays.

Getting there:

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi take a taxi and within 20 min you will be at your destination. If you are traveling from Dubai, although there is a direct bus service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the preferred option is a taxi. The taxi will cost you around AED 250-275 per side and will only take about 90 min.

Important Tips:

When traveling to the Grand Mosque, do plan to visit a couple of other attractions in Abu Dhabi, that way you can make the most of your trip. Try to have meals before you come to the mosque, as you will not find many options in proximity.

Another view from inside

Please dress modestly as it is a Muslim religious site. The ladies will be provided with free ‘abayas’ to cover themselves fully. Remove shoes and socks before entering the main site.

Any time is a good time to visit the Grand Mosque but during summers try to visit in the morning or early evening. It is perfect for photography then. Don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses, as the glare might not make it comfortable for you.

It has a seductive captivating vibe, which makes you sit in silence and just observe and soak in the opulence. Irrespective of the faith you follow – you must visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for its spectacular architecture.

For all those who love the Taj Mahal,

For all those who like architecture,

Pool reflecting the amazing columns

For all those who like visiting religious sites,

And

For all those who are amazed by The Grand Mosque…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 24th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘Y’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

23

W – Weekend Getaway to Fujairah | #AtoZChallenge

W – Weekend Getaway to Fujairah | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Fujairah is the only Emirate, which has a complete coastline on the Gulf of Oman. The new Sheikh Khalifa Highway connects Dubai and Fujairah and is only two hours drive away. It is the best place for a relaxing weekend getaway. It is famous for its luxurious resorts facing the Gulf of Oman with the mountains in the backdrop. It is the perfect place to catch mountains and beaches in a single place.

Kids play area

It is home to the oldest mosque in UAE, Al Badiyah mosque built in 1446. Other places of importance include Fujairah fort, Al Bithanh Fort, Fujairah Museum, Al Hayl Castle, Awhlah Fort and Ain al-Madhab Hot Springs.

We decided to spend a leisurely weekend at Rotana Fujairah. In Fujairah, there are two hotels that are a part of the Rotana group – Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa and Nour Arjaan by Rotana. Rotana group is a major hospitality chain in the Gulf region with resorts and hotels in almost every country of the middle.

We were going there to celebrate the anniversary of an elder brother. I along with my sister and brother-in-law was in one car and the elder brother’s family was in their SUV. We started around noon from Dubai and reached around 2pm. The road is beautiful to drive on with sand dunes on both sides. On the way, there are multiple fuel stations that will definitely have a restaurant or a supermarket on its premises. We took coffee and some snacks as a takeaway from one of the supermarkets at the fuel station.

The humansize chessboard

Once you reach Dibba Al Fujairah, head towards the Al Aqah beach. It is a very famous beach and is home to most of the resorts and large hospitality chains including names like Radisson Blu Fujairah, Le Meridien Al Aqah beach resort, Intercontinental Fujairah Resort and so on. There is a section of the Al Aqah beach where one can go for an overnight camp right next to the ocean.

We were staying at the Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa. It is a luxurious lavish property facing the ocean and a picturesque mountain in the background. We were greeted with welcome drinks and the check-in formalities were being completed while I was scanning the huge reception area. I could locate a little alley where they had shops for souvenirs and gifts inside the resort itself.

View from Room

The resort has about 250 guest rooms and suites that have colonial designs that blend local architecture with a graceful palazzo-style estate. All rooms of this

Beachfront resorts have a private terrace or balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean. The rooms start from AED 1000. To my surprise, the resort was completely booked.

After completing the formalities at the reception we headed for our rooms. On our way, we crossed their massive swimming pool. It had a separate section for kids and its size reminded me of a water park – it was so huge. Since the resort was completely booked it was logical that the pool will be crowded too. I was amazed to see so many people already in the pool. For a moment I thought people directly checked into the pool or what!

Moving further ahead there was a giant human size chessboard drawn on the floor with all the pawns taking a nap. I wondered who would play that.

The Beach

Once in the room we ordered some food and played cards. The room was huge and one could see the ocean through the wall like a glass window. It was luxury at its very best.

Around 5 pm when the sun decided to be calmer, I decided to go for a swim, in fact, all of us went swimming in the turquoise blue water of the massive pool. What’s the point when you pay so much and don’t enjoy all the facilities? Well! Diving in a swimming pool is my favorite. There was a bar right in the middle of the pool and the seats were underwater. It definitely added extravagance to the ambiance.

We all were starving once out of the pool and decided to go out to some restaurant to try out some local cuisine. Luckily we found a decent restaurant near to the resort. The restaurant was serving Arabic and Afghani cuisine. The bread was so big that it would not even fit in our regular plates. On occasions, I can gorge on a decent quantity of food but that day I was also full in one ‘roti’ or I should say ‘Rota’.

The huge swimming pool

After the meal, we headed back to the resort. There was some amazing creativity on display – many showpieces made of colorful bottles with neon lights gracing them. We had ordered a cake that was a surprise for my elder brother and sister-in-law. We cut the cake and celebrated their anniversary, partied, laughed, shouted and danced till the wee hours.

I woke up early and went for a morning walk on the calm beach. There is no better feeling than to experience the tranquility of the misty morning ocean with birds chirping and no humanity in sight. I took a dip before heading back to the room. Everybody was awake by then and were planning to head to the buffet breakfast.

After the breakfast everybody was exploring the property, the ladies went for their pampering spa session while the men strolled around gazing at beauties at poolside. 😀

We checked out around 12 pm and headed back to Dubai – It was a well-deserved break full of luxury and fun. The resort is a perfect amalgamation of modern facilities and design right in the lap of nature.

For all those who like to swim,

For all those who love the ocean,

For all those who adore beaches,

And

For all those who love this combo of nature and man-made marvels…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 23th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘X’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

15

V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge

V – Visit to Al Ain Zoo & Jebel Hafeet | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Papa got his passport done after he retired from his government job. There is some clause regarding NOCs and hence it is difficult to get it made during your official tenure. Just after that we sat together and decided what should be his first international trip. Given his strict daily routines or I should say extremely disciplined way of living the only option I could suggest was a trip to Dubai.

His daughter…I mean…my sister was staying there so all his nitpicking about the food and daily stuff would be taken care of by her. Since he was traveling outside for the first time it was best that we chose this location.

The first trip that we planned to take from Dubai was to the Al Ain Zoo and Jebel Hafeet because of its serene natural beauty and proximity to Dubai.

Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain Zoo is also known as Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort or Al Ain Wildlife Park. It is about one and a half drive from Dubai and situated in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet. Although it is a part of Abu Dhabi to get to Al Ain you don’t have to go through it and there is a separate way altogether.

The 400-hectare zoo was founded in 1968 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late Ruler of Abu Dhabi, out of his sheer love for the land’s wildlife. He was particularly fond of the Arabian Oryx. We left post breakfast and reached around 11am.

Al Ain zoo is home to many of the regions peculiar species including Ungulates and herbivores such as Arabian antelopes and oryx, eland, gazelle, lechwe. It is also home to the rare white lion. The area is huge and you will have to do a lot of walking. It is not like a regular zoo where the animals are usually caged instead every animal has a huge barn-like space for it with the natural interiors kept intact. Keep a water bottle and a map of the zoo handy.

The zoo also hosts a big cathouse – Lions, cougars, jaguars, and black and spotted leopards are found here. A reptile house, monkey compounds, aquarium, and aviary also add to the attraction. You will fall in love with the natural landscape, the cool breeze from Jebel Hafeet and some beautiful animals in the background.

The Al Ain wildlife park also has residential facilities and if you are looking to spend the weekend then you can stay there as well. There is a bird show featuring predatory birds and night birds that lasts 30 minutes starting at 7 pm. The dinosaur trail is open until 8 pm. There are over 4,000 animals in the zoo, with at least 30% of its 180 species considered endangered.

Tickets: The normal tickets are priced at only AED 30 and AED 10 for kids. If you want to do a safari inside the zoo, then it will cost you around AED 200.

We almost visited every nook and corner, and with Papa along, we didn’t want to exhaust him. It was around 4pm that we left for the summit at Jebel Hafeet. If you depart later than this then you might miss the surreal tranquil view from the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet is the second highest mountain in UAE and the only mountain range in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is located on the border of Oman and UAE and is considered an extension of the Hajjar Mountains that we discussed during Hatta.

It is also of archaeological importance as many Bronze Age beehive tombs were discovered at its foothills. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations because of windy winding roads. Since the rock is mainly made up of limestone, over the years, the speedy winds have created a natural cave system.

The 7.3-mile (11.7 km) mountain road to the top is considered one of the greatest driving roads in the world. With it two lanes meandering through the craggy limestone rocks it is an experience to behold. There are a couple of viewpoints with parking spaces where you can get mesmerized by the sublime desert and its winds.

Once you reach the top there are ample parking spaces. Avoid parking on the side of the roads, firstly because of inconvenience to others and secondly because of strict rules. It may get really cold while returning so please don’t forget to carry warm clothing.

At the top, the summit is grilled with huge metallic bars, as the fall is steep. Some stupid people, including me, still try to crossover and take pictures from that side. Please, it is highly inadvisable and risky.

There are a couple of basic restaurants within the complex at the top but I will suggest carrying your own food. The queues are long and the quality of food not that great. We were graced with some royal scolding from Papa and hence this will stick to my memory forever.

You will find many fitness freaks and lovers of endurance sports cycling their way to the top. I know…I know…that thought in itself is pretty fatiguing. One can also opt for the public transport buses from Al Ain city center.

It gets dark really quickly once the sun sets like always in the mountains. Plan accordingly as you will have to maneuver through huge traffic.

It is a truly majestic experience and a welcome climate change to visit Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain Zoo. Take your whole family and have safe fun.

For all those who love the zoo,

For all those who love driving,

For all those who love mountains,

And

For all those who love Jebel Hafeet…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 22th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘W’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

10

U – Underwater Zoo & Aquarium | #AtoZChallenge

U – Underwater Zoo & Aquarium | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

We have been to a Zoo in the past and we have visited an aquarium but how many times you can say you have been to an Underwater Zoo. Well, not many! Let me take you on a mesmerizing trip of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

Situated in the Dubai Mall, it is considered to be one of the largest and most amazing of aquariums in the world. The giant 10 million-liter tank at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo contains more than 33,000 aquatic animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks anywhere.

It is also home to the world-famous gigantic King Croc – the largest crocodile in the world – my personal favorite. Don’t miss out getting a glimpse of it.

After you reach the counters at ground floor and purchase the tickets you can start from the underwater tunnel located at the ground floor itself. After you complete the tour, then you will head to the second floor to enjoy the rest of the zoo & aquarium. The exit is also on the second floor where you can buy souvenirs on the way back.

Aquarium Tank

It is home to more than 140 marine species. The huge captivating blue tank is the largest suspended aquarium tanks in the world. You will find a wide range of sharks, electric rays, and various other colorful fishes and aquatic animals. You will see more sand tiger sharks here than anywhere else in the world. When you go to the second floor, they will take you to a section where you can see how they breed these sharks.

Underwater Tunnel

After purchasing the ticket it will be the first thing you will experience. It is a 48 m long tunnel built over this huge aquarium tank. When walking through it you will feel as if you are inside the tank with the sharks and rays floating over your head. It is the best experience for kids and once inside I have seen a lot of adults turning into kids.

Underwater Zoo

After having the starters at the tunnel let’s head to the second floor for the main course known as Underwater Zoo. It comprises of three different sections, although one isn’t able to differentiate, Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Ocean. Through its 40 different display tanks, you will able to see some really amazing and peculiar underwater creatures like the Humboldt Penguin, Piranha, African Dwarf Crocodile, Giant Spider Crabs, Otters, Lionfish and so many more.

The ambiance inside is way too immersive. You will feel that you are taking a stroll through the Amazon. There are some really vibrant large parrots, which will be not caged and will be flying over your head. The noise of the nocturnal insects adds another layer of authenticity to the experience. After walking for about 30 min inside you will come across the superstar of the Zoo – the King Croc.

King Croc

One has to literally see it to believe it. The King Croc gives a slight peek into the prehistoric Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. If this one were so big, it would have been an all-different unimaginable feel when the dinosaurs walked around.

It is a massive 5 m long that weighs around 750 kg. They say that its head alone weighs around 150 kg. It has the highest bite force of any creature alive and its 60 beautiful pearly white sharp teeth can make a meal out of someone in no time. It is already 40 years old and is expected to live for the next 50 years. King croc is one of the most feared and powerful reptiles to have graced the planet.

UAE’s Night Creatures

Another latest edition inside the zoo is UAE’s night creatures segment. It is created as a dark alley with the inside of the display arenas designed to replicate the Arabian nightlife. It has some unique animal species that thrive in the desert environment. You can spot Arabian Toads, Fruit Bats, Giant Camel Spiders, Scorpions, False Cobra, Desert Hedgehogs, Barn Owl, Veiled Chameleons, Frog Eye Geckos, Ornate Spiny Tail Lizards and Cheesman’s Gerbils.

There plenty of places where you can take some really cool pictures. Special mention is that walkover rope bridge with large owls on both sides.

There are some wonderful aquatic adventure experiences that you can try inside the Zoo.

Shark Feeding Encounter

Wouldn’t it be cool that rather than the shark feeding on you, you are feeding them! You can get up-close and personal with the sharks where you can feed them too, of course under guidance. The 30 min experience is completely safe and something worth trying.

Cage Snorkeling

The size of the Aquarium Tank is huge for a reason – One can get inside the snorkeling gear and inside a big cage. The cage will then be lowered inside the tank where you will become a part of the marine life. No better way to watch hundreds of excited fishes circling around you.

Shark Dive

Whether you are a certified diver or not, you can experience a shark dive. Go take the plunge and make friends with some really scary and beautiful razor-sharp smiling sand tiger sharks.

Scuba Dive

Scared to dive deep in a sea or an ocean, well you can try your hands at scuba diving inside the zoo. After a quick theory lesson from the instructor, you can dive and experience what it is like breathing underwater.

VRZOO

There is a section where you can enjoy the aquatic experience through a virtual reality setup. Not a fan of the real foul smelling creatures, don’t worry, try the VR experience.

For all the kids who believe they have a marine biologist hidden in them, they too can experience the life of a professional aquarist. There are two packages for that – Junior (5-15 year old) and Senior Aquarists (8-15 year old).

Tickets and Timings

The basic ticket starts from AED 130 and it goes up depending on the experience and adventures you want to go for.

Junior Aquarist – AED 157.50 / Child

Senior Aquarist – AED 262.50 / Child

Timings: 10 am to 12 midnight everyday.

What are you waiting for – go become a kid for a day – swim with the sharks, float with the rays and dive deep into the mesmerizing world of Underwater Zoo.

For all those who love marine life,

For all those who want to feed sharks,

For all those who swim with the rays,

And

For all those who want to be a part of the Underwater Zoo…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 21th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘V’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

 

5

T – Things Nobody Tells You About Dubai | #AtoZChallenge

T – Things Nobody tells you about Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

By now, through the previous 19 posts, we have discussed where to shop, which restaurants to visit, which malls to go to and some of the major attractions to cover in Dubai. Today I am going to highlight some of the things, for which not much is written or spoken about but people look for.

Alcohol places

Everybody who travels to Dubai keeps asking me about the places they can consume liquor. Well, there are a plethora of options where you can get a drink but I will tell you a couple of places where you are going to get at the best prices in town along with complimentary food. If you are around Al Karama, head to President Hotel, just beside it there is a small place by the name of ‘The Cowboys’. Till today it is my favorite place to head to for a round of beer and a game of pool.

Another place, where you are sure you to find some offers in their happy hours, is in Ambassador Hotel – George and Dragon bar in their ground floor has good music, decent food and some really cheap cocktail and beer options. If you are into live music then head to the Ramee Royal Hotel in Karama – The Times Café is a huge sports bar where you will find great music with some wonderful deals on liquor.

Sheesha Places

The Arabic world is also famous for its ‘Sheeshas’ that forms a part of their traditional heritage. A sheesha place is not far away in Dubai and you can always locate one in your vicinity. Though my personal favorite is ‘Koyla Lounge’ in Al Karama for their amazing ‘hookahs’ and ‘sheeshas’ and affordable food with great music. QD’s is another favorite hotspot – enjoy the sheesha sitting alongside the creek.

Dance bars

Being touted as the sin city of the Middle East many people travel with the expectation of finding places like in Vegas or Amsterdam. If yes, then you will be highly disappointed; Dubai doesn’t have any strip clubs.

Almost all the major hotels have dance bars in Dubai. Don’t get confused with the dance bars that you might find in India. These are sophisticated places where you occupy a table and watch dancing moves from a distance. You will find a lot of women in the audience as well. It is compulsory for you to order something. Some of the best places include Antakshari in President Hotel in Al Karama and one in Ambassador hotel in Bur Dubai. Make sure you don’t make anyone uncomfortable with your gestures.

Massage Parlors

Massage parlors are like pan shops in India. Sometimes I feel it is difficult to get water in some places but a massage parlor is only a throw-away. If you like to pamper yourself, do try their Moroccan bath – that’s quite famous.

VOIP access is limited

If you are traveling to Dubai, make sure your international roaming is activated otherwise calling through Whatsapp and Skype won’t work. There are other proxy apps that might work but the reception would be patchy and would invariably require an Internet connection.

Lost and Found

If by any chance you forget or lose a valuable thing or some cash, be assured most of the time you will find it back.

Gold ATM

You can even buy gold directly from an ATM in the Dubai Mall. Amazing, isn’t it! The prices are updated every 10 min and are in sync with the current market prices and all you have to do is swipe your card and a gold bar will pop out.

Precautions while driving

Apart from following traffic rules, one has to be very attentive and aware while driving about the road exits because if you miss one it might take you another 20 min to find another. The roads can get really confusing sometimes.

Carry warm clothing

Wherever you traveling to and in any climate, it is advisable to carry warm clothing or a jacket with you. Although you will be in the desert every place in Dubai is air-conditioned and you might find the temperatures in malls and offices freezing.

Avoid altercation

I know I should not bring this out, but if for some reasons you get into an altercation with an Arab, the police might appear to be soft on them. Suck up your pride and move on – the Best thing is minding your own business. Please follow the rules.

Spot a Tiger

In most of the countries, it is very common for someone to see a dog peeping out of a car window, well Dubai is known for its tigers. Don’t be surprised or shocked if you find a tiger staring at you at a traffic light. That’s completely normal.

Road closures

Road closures are quite normal for maintenance work in Dubai. Don’t get too attached to a particular route and always learn alternative options because you will definitely come across a couple of road closures very frequently.

Meeting the Sheikh

If spotting a tiger was surprising for you, imagine what if you are crossing the road along with Sheikh Mohammad. He lives a normal life and it’s not uncommon to find him traveling via metro, simply using a zebra crossing, standing right behind you in a mall queue. In our part of the world where the VVIP culture is predominant, he sets some exemplary standards.

With Dubai, all I can say is always be prepared to be shocked, awed, surprised and be ready for unpredictability in all sense.

For all those who were looking for alcohol places,

For all those who love sheeshas,

For all those who love to pamper themselves,

And

For all those who wanted to know things, nobody tells about…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 20th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘U’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.