Scenes of wonder and curiosity in the United Arab Emirates

So now that I’ve seen the ski slope inside Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, what I want to know is: why doesn’t someone build one in Las Vegas? Having just spent our two final Arabian days (and nights) in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I can confirm that those two are in a fierce Weird Sights competition with Nevada’s citadel of sin. I think Vegas needs a mall-based winter wonderland to stay in the game.

We didn’t ski but watched some of the action from our table at TGI Fridays (where we pondered the fact that Friday in this part of the world is the special day of worship. So do Muslims associate this restaurant chain with piety?)

Experienced skiers and snowboarders pay a little more than $80 for a full day pass. But wouldn’t they get a bit bored after a few runs?

Architectural landmarks in the Emirates range from the ostentatious…
he grand staircase in The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, the biggest and showiest hotel I’ve ever seen.

…to the attention-grabbing…

One view of some the buildings neighboring the Emirates Palace…

…to the religious…

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
It contains the world’s biggest carpet, along with about a million Chinese tourists. Few are as cute as this little one.

We gasped at this bizarre scene when we drove the main freeway from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi city early Friday afternoon:

We had the road to ourselves. Were the locals all at their mosques?

Our automotive pleasure evaporated when we returned to Dubai’s oh-so-smoggy skies (think Beijing. Or LA in the early 1960s). But we needed a car to visit attractions such as the 4-year-old Dubai Miracle Garden.

When one of the guys from Mumbai at the front gate murmurs, “It’s TOO HOT!” you know it’s toasty. But the flowers hadn’t wilted in the world’s biggest flower garden — irrigated with 200,000 gallons of recycled wastewater every day
The theme of the garden is everyday objects covered with a mind-boggling variety of colorful foliage.

Latest attraction here is a life-size Emirates Airbus 380 blanketed in about a half a million flowers. We were impressed, despite our wilting in the heat.

With all the driving, our fuel gauge soon showed us to be near empty. We spent a harrowing hour following bad directions from our GPS and cursing the city’s poorly designed road system before finding our way to a petrol station.

Like most that we saw, it was jammed with drivers in a way that reminded us of the Arab Oil Embargo and subsequent price controls’ impact on the US back in the 70s. But… why do the drivers have to line up like that in the most oil-rich place on earth? We wondered if the guy walking out maybe ran out before he could find a station.

I was happy to get rid of our little rental car. Now I’m writing this aboard our Sunday morning flight from Dubai to Entebbe, Uganda. I’ll try to post it from there, as soon as possible, but Steve recalls that the Internet was pretty bad when we were there 4 years ago. I think it can’t be much worse than the limited online access we’ve been experiencing for the past two weeks.

One thought on “Scenes of wonder and curiosity in the United Arab Emirates

  1. Wes Mudge April 30, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    Oman=😎; Dubai=😠; looking forward to Uganda. Great write ups.

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