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.

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

 

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.

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.

19

S – Souks in Dubai | #AtoZChallenge

S – Souks of Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

After the last post on restaurants and food places of Dubai, I received a lot of feedback from a lot of people that this was the last thing that they were looking for. I am sure most of the women were lying (Just kidding). This post should be of utmost importance to them. If they aren’t concerned with shopping then who will; I have often found women confessing to me that they find shopping therapeutic.

We have already discussed the malls in Dubai, let’s dedicate this post to the markets or as they call it ‘Souks’ in Dubai. I find malls very monotonous, with most of them having similar lines of retail outlets. My father always told, when you travel, to feel the real culture and vibe of a place travel and explore the local markets.

Before proceeding I would like to highlight what are some of the things that are a must buy from Dubai – perfumes, gold, electronics, spices, textiles, coffee, chocolates, dates, honey and carpets.

Gold Souk

It is the world’s largest gold market with around 300 retailers. The gold souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira region of Dubai. There is a reason why Dubai is known as the city of gold. The products are government regulated and hence the quality of the products is pretty much genuine everywhere you shop. The gold is also of better quality, usually 22 or 24 carats, compared to India and hence it is considered cheaper than India.

It is a traditional market with narrow lanes with glittering gold on display everywhere. Don’t forget to be at your bargaining best. The gold souk is very well connected using any mode of transport.

Spice Souk

Just next to the gold souk, you will be transported to the aroma-laden streets of traditional trade hub of Dubai, The Spice Souk. The moment you enter the street a strong aroma of spices, which appear to be pleasantly soothing, will greet you. You can purchase an extensive variety of spices found across the planet. The spice souk is not only famous for spices; in fact, you can purchase some of the best dry fruits and dates for your trip back.

Perfume Souk

The first thing that I noticed as soon as I landed in Dubai was the strong scent of perfumes and ‘ittra’ that the locals would be wearing. For some reason, it gives a comforting feeling to everything. Needless to mention the street is an amalgamation of some of the finest scents available.

Perfume souk is also in the same Deira locale on the Sikkat Al Khail Road. You can find anything from the traditional Arabic ittras to more contemporary options. You will find perfume shops in malls too, but the price in the perfume street is unbeatable. They are the perfect souvenirs and don’t forget to take the ‘Oud’ flavor.

Textile Souk

Take an abra for just one dirham and cross the creek to the other side, Bur Dubai. Here you would come across the textile souk, which is also known as the ‘old souk’. The ambiance is reminiscent of the 80s era with small sand-colored shops with wooden frames and architecture, offering a wide variety of clothing and fabric options at very nominal prices.

Meena Bazaar

Meena Bazaar is my favorite market in Dubai. If you aren’t able to visit all the markets separately then it’s better to pay a visit to the Meena Bazaar. Once there, you will not feel as if you are in Dubai and it reminds so much of any traditional market in India. You will find everything here in its narrow lanes; from perfumes to dates, from gold to clothes, from Indian street food to Arabic shawarma, from souvenirs to first copies of watches.

It is extremely difficult to find tailors in Dubai, Meena Bazaar sorts that out for you. Keep 2 to 3 hours when visiting it. Get down at the Al Fahidi station of the green metro line and start walking towards the creek, Meena Bazaar will be on the left-hand side.

Friday Market

A market that is a little far from the city of Dubai towards the East Coast region. It started as a weekly market, which would be set up on Fridays in Masafi – yeah, the same Masafi from where the mineral water comes from. Today it has become a famous tourist place and is now on all weekdays not just Fridays.

You can visit the market for plants, fruits, vegetable, carpets, pottery, handicrafts and household items that are considerably cheaper than what you will find in Dubai.

Fruits & Vegetable Souk

It is in the Ras Al Khor region and is favored by the wholesale or bulk buyers. Now completely shaded, it is a perfect place to get your fresh veggies at a cheap price. You will find supermarket trolleys to help you with your stuff to the cars.

Naif Souk

Naif Souk has come a long way from its older days of being just a camel market to being a full-fledged marketplace like Meena Bazaar. It is located in the old Deira district of Dubai. The lanes are narrow with shops cramped in and the market is amongst the oldest souks in Dubai. You can find perfumes, attar (ittra), phones, gifts, hardware and a lot of other things including some really cheap food options.

Karama Market

It is the ‘first-copy’ or ‘fakes’ market in Dubai. Located in the Al Karama region you can reach easily by metro and get down at the station with the same name. You will find copies of almost everything; bags, wallets, DVDs, jewelry, watches, shoes, sunglasses and so on. If you are not from the brand or an expert in that product you will not be able to tell the difference with the naked eye.

Some markets that are not the traditional souks but are named and are high-end markets.

Souk Madinat – it is the same market that we discussed in the Jumeirah region. The architecture brings the old-world charm to life with modern shopping outlets. It is a place for souvenirs, fine art and sculptures with some amazing cafes and restaurants.

The Souk – it is a dedicated area within the Dubai Mall reflecting the Emirati heritage and is famous for fine jewelry, precious metals and gemstones.

Souk Al Bahar – the perfect marriage of traditional Arabic marketplace with modern design, situated just on the shores of Khalifa Lake in Downtown Dubai. You can shop while enjoying the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa in the background. It is famous for Bateel dates, incense cones, jewelry, abayas, brass lamps and fresh Arabic pastries.

Note: The Gold Souk, Spice Souk and Perfume Souk are on the Deira side of the creek and The Textile Souk and Meena Bazaar on the Bur Dubai side.

On Fridays, most of the markets are closed in the first half and they usually open around 4-5pm.

All the beautiful women and wonderful shopaholics out there can thank me later and you can always reach out for any other information on what to buy and from where.

For all those who love shopping,

For all those who travel to markets,

For all those who collect souvenirs,

And

For all those who love traditional souks…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 19th 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 ‘T’

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.

12

Q – Quick Guide to Dubai Mall | #AtoZChallenge

Q – Quick guide to Dubai Mall | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

When visiting Dubai it would be criminal of you if you miss the Dubai Mall. It is the second largest mall by total land area and the world’s most visited shopping destination for a reason. Given its sheer size, it is practically impossible to cover everything in one go hence I decided to give you a quick tour of the mall and guide you to places that you shouldn’t miss.

Everybody visits a mall for shopping and with more than 1000 retail outlets your shopping cravings are well fed off. Through this post will try to highlight those places, which either I haven’t discussed earlier or are of interest.

How to reach

The Dubai Mall has many entrances, as it is located in the heart of Downtown Dubai. One can simply not miss Burj Khalifa in the center of it. If you traveling in a taxi you will be impressed with how organized everything is.

If you are taking a metro then get off at Dubai Mall, but it will still take another 10-15 min to reach the mall. There is also a free shuttle bus from the metro station to the mall.

Some of the places you can choose to visit depending upon your preferences:

Football in the mall

Yes, you heard it right! You and your kids can enjoy football inside the Dubai Mall. Go to the 2nd floor (p7) and head to the football pitch called ‘Goal’. It is a ‘Drop and shop’ concept where you can drop your kids while you go ahead with your disturbance-free shopping. It is ideal for kids of 10-15 years of age.

Caboodle

Caboodle is another ‘Drop and shop’ zone where you can leave your kids under a paid guidance and you can go ahead for hassle-free shopping. It is an indoor play arena with multiple activities for kids including an arts and crafts zone. It is one of the popular places for kids in Dubai Mall along with Kidzania.

Supervised Caboodle entry is AED 70 per hour per child.

Emirates A380 Simulator

For all those who wanted to become a pilot and fly a commercial plane, this is a must try for you. It is an amazingly realistic simulator where you get to experience what it is to take off, fly and land a commercial plane. To add to the authenticity you can take help of assistance during the flight. Head to ‘the Village’ on level G.

Tickets: starts at AED 325 for 30 min.

Hysteria

For all the thrill seekers, Hysteria is a haunted house, but way better than what we usually find in India. With the use of technology, the fear-based attractions are on a different level. There is a retail outlet at the exit where you can but some horror and fear related merchandise.

The ticket starts at AED 35.

VR Park

VR Park has replaced the SEGA Republic, which was a gamer’s paradise. The newly opened VR Park is a virtual reality indoor theme park where you can try your hands at many high-tech virtual reality games. When your beautiful half is busy trying multiple dresses and it might seem like ages to you…head to the VR park for some entertainment.

Prices start at AED 35

Print a 3D candy

I know it’s hard to believe but you can get a 3D printed candy at one of the cutest places in Dubai Mall. It is the world’ first 3D gummy printer, which can print up to 20 different designs – including the Dubai skyline. The candy can last for a year but would you let it last that long!

Drive an F1 Car

If you aren’t able to visit the Ferrari World, don’t worry; you can still try your hand at a Ferrari at the Ferrari store on Level 1, which is adjacent to the waterfall. You’ll find a purpose-built F1 simulator sent straight from Maranello (the Ferrari F1 factory). It uses the same software as Ferrari racers train with. Jump into the seat and go zoom!

Read the other post on Kids where you can find more details about Kidzania and Dubai Ice Rink.

Not everything comes at a price and there are many attractions that don’t require your wallet to shed weight.

Fashion Avenue

It is an ultra-modern fashion precinct housing brands such as Armani, Gucci and Chanel. You can not only shop here but also take a stroll around the vast space of 440,000 sq. ft. and click a picture. Fashion Avenue is one of the best places to take pictures inside the Dubai Mall. Even the restrooms are elegant and exquisite and just go there to experience luxury.

Dubai Aquarium

Located at the entry level right in the center of the mall. One can reach the Aquarium from anywhere in the mall. If you aren’t paying and going inside the aquarium and underwater zoo, you can still gaze at the marine life on display through a massive glass partition. This is one of the best places to take a picture in the mall and usually crowded, so finding a spot might be cumbersome. I would still recommend you to pay the price and watch the king croc, believe me, its totally worth it.

Timings: 10 am to 12 am

Rage Bowl Skate Park

It’s a hidden place on Level 2. It is one of the best places to try skating in Dubai. If you finally manage to locate it then you are in for a treat; one can skate there for free.

Meet a Dino

For all the Dino-lovers of all ages, head to the Souk area where in the middle there is full-size skeleton of a 155-million-year-old dinosaur. You will be amazed by the sheer size of the skeleton; just imagine what it would have been in flesh. The most important thing, this dinosaur skeleton is on permanent display and doesn’t require a ticket.

Dubai Fountain

The best place to spend your evening at the Dubai Mall. I am sure you will be tired by now. Head to the lower ground floor and in the opposite direction of the entrance. Take a seat at any of the lavish restaurants beside the lake and watch the Dubai fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system. It is accompanied by a laser show for which the world’s tallest building is used as a canvas. You cannot imagine the scale; you have to experience it to believe it. The sound, the lights, the lasers along with the Fountain makes it for a mesmerizing experience and that too at zero cost.

Shows every 30 min from 6pm to 11pm; Abra rides AED 20 per person.

Where to eat

You can find every possible cuisine in the world at the Dubai Mall. There are a plethora of options at the food court on level 2.

Cake and Coffee addicts – Hummingbird or Magnolia Bakery

Tea – Café Bateel

Salads and grills at Wafi Gourmet

Pasta lovers – Vanellis, it is like the subway of the pasta world where you can decide what goes into your pasta.

TGIF with an amazing view of the fountain and Burj Khalifa.

French cuisine at the ultra-luxe café Angelina or Parisian-style bistro Aubaine.

Candy lovers – head to the world’s largest candy store, Candylicious.

Finish your day with dinner at Souk Al Bahar, an Arabic-style marketplace or enjoy cocktails on the terrace of the Address Boulevard.

I can keep going on and on but then this post will become as big as the Dubai Mall. You can always reach out to me if you have any questions regarding Dubai Mall or Dubai – City of Gold.

For all those who love candies,

For all those who are gaming freaks,

For all those who love fountain shows,

And

For all those who love the Dubai Mall…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 17th 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 ‘R’

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.