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Desert safari and Dubai Shenanigans

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Hi Friends, I’m alive. I know. It’s been a while since my last post, but I promise I haven’t abandoned you all. Between iffy internet connection, and the craziness of the past 2 months traveling, and other crazy shenanigans happening at home… I could barely even find time to sleep.

So let’s play a game of catch up of my travel abroad. I LOVE Dubai. Seriously. It is the perfect combination of Eastern and Western cultures. You literally have the best of both worlds.

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on our way to Jumeria Beach…

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Burj-al- Arab: the 4th tallest hotel in the world, and it’s one of the only 7 star hotels. It’s designed to look like a sail of a ship.

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Dubai is known for its skyscrapers and its majestic buildings. There is constant constructions going on. If you compare Dubai 5 years ago, to what it is today, you will be amazed by the rapid growth of the Dubai skylines.

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And nothing compares to the Burj Khalifa. The world’s tallest man made building standing at over 830 meters (2700+ft), located in downtown Dubai.

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Burj Khalifa is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill the same company that created the Sears Tower in Chicago. The design of this building was created in such a way to represent the spiral miranet, that is predominantly found in Islamic Architecture.

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Originally called the Burj Dubai, the name was switched to Burj Khalifa, when Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi (also the president of UAE) stepped in to fund the project, when there was insufficient funds to complete the building. Sheikh Khalifa hoped that with the creation of this sensational building,  UAE could transition from strictly an oil based industry to a tourism based industry thus garnering more international investments.

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There are 163 floors in the Burj Khalifa. But tourists are only allowed to go up to the 124th floor. But even then you can get a breathtaking view of the land…

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…and the desert that spreads beyond the city.

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Can you guys spot the Burj-al-Arab? The view from the top is spectacular. It’s one of those things you have to do at least once.

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Comparing some of the largest buildings in the world. You can definitely see that Burj Khalifa beats them all.

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Along with some of the largest buildings and amazing skyscrapers, UAE is know for its malls and shopping centers. In fact, the Dubai Mall (not pictured yet) is the world’s largest mall…(Do we see a trend here…apparently UAE is out to beat all sorts of world’s records). The above is one of the smaller malls…Ibn Battuta mall.

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Ibn Battuta is one of the world’s famous travelers known for traveling all over Africa, Europe and Asia. This mall is named after him and is designed to showcase at least 6 of the places he visited. (Egypt, Tunisa, Persia, India, Andalucia, China)

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The architecture is simply brilliant. And it varies depending on which country you’re visiting.

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Only in a middle of a desert can you find a ski resort filled with snow and igloos and penguins. Ski Dubai, located in Mall of the Emirates, is a tourist favorite. It’s the first indoor ski resort in the middle east. Luckily you don’t have to bring your own boots, and jackets and gloves. You can ski and snowboard and all the equipment is provided including jackets and gloves.

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On the other hand, you can’t come to UAE and not go on a desert safari. This was probably one of my favorite parts of UAE. Because you get to experience a little bit of what life is like outside of the city. If you think about it, UAE started off as a nomadic culture where people relied on camels and what little they could find in the desert to sustain themselves. The discovery of oil radically changed people’s lifestyles. After becoming an united emirates, and controlling the oil supply, and becoming a major supplier of oil internationally, it became an incredibly wealthy nation. In the midst of the desert, you can escape the glittering city lights and realize how far this nation has come and how far it still has to go.  We started our desert safari with a dune bashing ride…driving through the large sand dunes. Having a good driver is really important and part of the fun!

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Camel farms! They’re everywhere in the desert. (I can’t imagine how anyone traveled in the desert during the ancient times. Not only is it really hot. But there is nothing but sand everywhere. And at night, it’s really cold, and dark. It’s peaceful until you realize you could easily get stranded and no one would know.)

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Going on a camel ride. Not going to lie, it’s a little bit scary when they decide to get up and sit down. And they really are stubborn. But it’s a lot of fun, and a little bumpy.

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Say CHEESE! (Those teeth are quite dangerous.)

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The camp site we arrived at. They had lots of activities planned including henna tattoos, trying shisha, watching belly dancers, and traditional Arabic dances, and fire acts. They provided dinner, both vegetarian and non vegetarian like kebabs, tandoori chicken, kubuz (like pita bread) and hummus, and all sorts of different salads.

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Shisha time…aka…hookah. It really is a common household items. And they’re sold in any store and for relatively cheap too.  They have some really pretty ones.  (See below)

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Colorful shisha pipes!

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Climbing dunes is quite a workout. But it’s all worth it for seeing amazing sunsets in the desert.

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On our way back, I was able to quickly snap this picture of the Burj Khalifa at night. It’s a breathtaking piece of architecture.

Enough for now. Sorry for the picture overload. I’ll try to come back to a regular posting. Hope you all are doing well.

Salaam Alaikum Dubai!

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Hi friends! Sorry it’s been a while. A quick update, again. Currently I’m in Dubai, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful. Spending 10 days here before leaving for India.

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Arrived at JFK in the evening to catch my flight to Dubai. My goodness is New York extremely crowded. Look at all those houses all packed together.

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If you’re traveling, I definitely suggest using Emirates Airline. OMG spectacular service. They pride themselves in being on time. And apparently amazing food. Seriously. Especially for plane food. This was dinner, an hour after we took off. We had an option of vegetarian, chicken and fish, and I ended up getting vegetarian. We call this biriyani (Rice pilaf with vegetables and a cashew garnish on the top). There was a yogurt vegetable salad, and a chocolate mousse for dessert. The mousse was pretty delicious. And I’m picky with my desserts. Throughout the flight, they give snacks, and the hosts are extremely friendly and they give the best drinks too. I could go on and on about how amazing Emirates is.

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More meal time pictures. I was so full, I nibbled on this. Plus we were arriving shortly in Dubai, and I knew I would eat some delicious food when I arrived.

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 Can you guess this movie? It has Gerard Butler look absolutely handsome! There were so many brand new movies playing, that I had a hard time selecting. This was “Playing for Keeps” and I ended up staying up to watch “Argo”  which was fantastic. I highly recommend it! I started “Lincoln” but wasn’t able to finish it. Like I said, I love Emirates airlines. And no they didn’t pay me to say that. I wish they did though 😛

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This is one of the views that greets me from my Aunt’s place. If you squint really hard, if you can see the Burj-khalifa: the tallest building in the world. It’s the one in the leftish area.

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It amazes me that everyone has access to this kind of view. This is the view from my Aunt’s place. Seriously breathtaking. The pictures can’t even express the beauty.

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These mosques like the one behind me are everywhere, and each just as pretty as the other. There is a mosque every mile all around the city to ensure that those who want to pray can be within walking distance of a mosque. And every few hours you’ll hear the imam start praying from these loudspeakers all over the city. The chanting is beautiful, even at 5 am.

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My cousins took a long walk around the city the other day, and we were greeted by this light show in the downtown area. I ran into several Starbucks, McDonalds, and a lot of other American restaurants. It’s amazing how far American companies have spread.

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Henna time with my cousins! Arabic tradition says that the darker the color becomes, the more passionate and better your relationship with your significant other will be. Hmmm…hopefully my future husband will be passionate and loving! 😉

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Went to this hole in the wall Indian restaurant. It was absolutely delicious. Simple Indian food. With extremely fresh roti’s and delicious daal and saabji (vegetables).

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Sunsets in Dubai. Good night for now friends. So much to do, and so little time. Going on a desert safari tomorrow. I can’t wait to ride a camel! I know this is a random post. Bear with me since I’m so new to the whole blogging while traveling. Lots of love!