Dubai UAE
Up Muscat Oman
Postcards from:


Big Bear Lake California
Las Vegas Nevada
Bangkok Thailand
Dubai UAE
Muscat Oman
Abu Dhabi UAE
Kish Iran
Kuwait Persian Gulf
Bahrain Persian Gulf
Qatar Persian Gulf
Bangkok again 2/2011
Return home


Reference map of the region to be explored... if I live long enough. I've been to Saudi Arabia many years ago and Yemen seems to have tourist barriers so I'll probably have to skip those. Iran is still a possibility, but visa requirements could be a problem.


Dubai: Bruj al Arab Hotel. If any building is iconic for Dubai, this is surely it.


Dubai: Around the base of the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. I just liked the composition of this shot.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. There is a lot of open space around the tower including a pond that blossoms into a wild dancing fountain occasionally.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. There is a lot of open space around the tower including a pond that blossoms into a wild dancing fountain occasionally... like right now.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa. The pond blossoms into a wild dancing fountain occasionally which always attracts attentive crowds.


Dubai: wild dancing fountains attract attentive crowds like these.


Dubai: Around the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world.


Dubai: This city has more extraordinary buildings than anyplace I've ever visited. It has to be the Architectural Mecca of the World.


Dubai: This building looks like the victim of severe earthquake twisting, but no, that's the way it is designed.


Dubai: One of the iconic Metro Stations; easy to find from their shape. The train terminals likewise follow the same architectural design.


Dubai: One of the currently unoccupied porters sleeping in a plaza next to the Creek where all the shipping activity is located.


Dubai: This is the Burj Nahar, one of three watchtowers constructed in 1870 to guard against invasion by sea. Today it sits next to the Fortune Grand Hotel where I stayed several nights while in the city.


Dubai: This Mc Donalds features a sidewalk cafe seating area... but designated for smokers. Aside from dodging the smoke, it is a great place to people watch while slurping a Pepsi or wolfing down a BigMac. Located near two of the hotels I used, it became a welcome respite from less familiar fair.


Dubai: Colorful trash cans decorate the sidewalks near in the Deira City Center. My artist friend, Entera will like these photos.


Dubai: An artsy view of the colorful trash cans.


Dubai: More colorful trash cans.


Dubai: A couple of the colorful planters seen around town. Each design is unique. Notice the black clad figure in the background.


Dubai: Display of shiny vases of unusual design in a store window on the way to the Union Metro Station I used a lot.


Dubai: Sign designating the location of the combination men's room and men's prayer room in the departure lounge for my flight to Kish Iran.


Dubai: Stop sign in Arabic... which reminds me of a mother worm admonishing her baby worm to be careful.


Dubai: Meat cooking on a spit at a place where I had dinner one night near the Al Khaleej Hotel. Delicious.


Dubai: View across the street from the Al Khaleej Holiday Hotel where I stayed while in the city.


Dubai: View of the street activity below the window of my room in the Al Khaleej Hotel.


Dubai: Sign on the window of a store in the Creek Area popular with many Russian tourists.


Dubai: Attractive water display at the entrance to the Al Khaleej Hotel where I stayed most of my time in Dubai.


Dubai: View of the boat activity in the "creek" as seen from the window of my room in the Al Khaleej Hotel.


Dubai: Night view of the boat activity in the "creek" as seen from the window of my room in the Al Khaleej Hotel.


Dubai: Breakfast in the dimly lit dining room at the Al Khaleej Hotel. The picture makes it look (a little) darker than it actually is.


Dubai: Twenty passenger water taxis sit idle during the off hours across from my hotel. They serve as very busy ferries in the afternoon and evening rush hours.


Dubai: Dock leading to the loading area for the passenger water taxis.


Dubai: Twenty passenger water taxis sit idle during the off hours across from my hotel. They serve as very busy ferries in the afternoon and evening rush hours.


Dubai: Twenty passenger water taxi fully loaded and ready to depart the wharf. They serve as very busy ferries in the afternoon and evening rush hours.


Dubai: Other passengers on the ferryboat that carries 20 as we prepare to cross the "creek."


Dubai: These 20 passenger water taxis or ferryboats provide round the clock connections between the two sides of the creek.


Dubai: One of a fleet of deluxe "water buses" that ferry people back and forth across the creek; they cost five times as much as the open "taxi" boats.


Dubai: Another section of the waterfront along the creek that runs by my hotel.


Dubai: Sign showing the routes for the twenty passenger water taxi. They serve as very busy ferries in the afternoon and evening rush hours.


Dubai: Further on down the wharf from the passenger water taxis a number of cargo vessels sit tied up waiting for cargo operations.


Dubai: Another cargo vessel sits tied up waiting for cargo operations.


Dubai: Flower bed in the median between the hotel and the creek wharf area.


Dubai: This is the Dubai-Muscat bus "station" where I get my ticket and presumably from where the bus departs at 07:00 and 15:00 daily.


Dubai: Monument in the plaza at the Union Metro stop not far from the Al Khaleej Hotel where I stayed off and on.


Dubai: Monument in the plaza at the Union Metro stop.


Dubai: This is souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum where I met Mohammad, a Dubai policemen from Oman and his friend Ahmad, a store keeper from India.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum I met Mohammad, a Dubai policemen originally from Oman.


Dubai: In the souk where I met Mohammad, a Dubai policemen from Oman I also met his friend from India who didn't talk much.


Dubai:  This is Mohammad's friend Ahmad from India who tutored me in Islamic culture.


Dubai: The picture taken outside a clothing store says it all.


Dubai: Part of the produce market next to the Sharjha bus terminal; this area specializes in dates of every kind.


Dubai: After checking out of the Dusit Princess Hotel and Paying back the $500 Lari Exchange "loaned" me over on Kish Island I booked a flight for Kuwait and waited at the bus station for the bus going to the Sharjah Airport. This is part of the market surrounding the terminal area. Seems like a strange place for a produce market, but here it is! Everyone wanted to sell me some fruit.


Dubai: Strict rules for the City Center Mall. Notice the "no kissing" rule and the admonition to wear proper clothes. At least the no smoking rule is enforced here.


Dubai: Sanitation sign seen in many mens rooms sponsored by Lifebuoy soap, I notice.

 


Dubai: Doorman posing in front of the 5 star hotel across from the museum. I tried to get the guy to look natural, but he had so perfected his camera smile my efforts were futile. Might be a Sikh thing.

 


Dubai: Entrance to the Royal Mark Hotel Apartments where I intended to stay on my return from Qatar, but found them fully booked... leading to a hasty departure for Bangkok.


Dubai: This is the Clock Tower that serves as a landmark near the city center.


Dubai: Killers waiting for their next victims. Why killers? Every time they coax someone to ride the few blocks they could have walked, they shorten their lives... and often don't save the client any time given the gridlock that slows much traffic to a crawl.


Dubai: One of the iconic Metro passenger entry buildings located along the line. The design is distinctive and generally easy to spot from a distance.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, second tallest building in the world.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world.


Dubai: Around the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. There is a lot of open space around the tower including a pond that blossoms into a wild dancing fountain occasionally which attracts attentive crowds like these.


Dubai: Around the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. Thought I should include at least one photo of your author/photographer... O.K. I took more than one, but couldn't decide which one to keep.


Dubai: Part of the elegant breakfast buffet I enjoyed during my one night stay in the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel just before leaving for Kuwait.


Dubai: Part of the elegant breakfast buffet I enjoyed during my one night stay in the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel just before leaving for Kuwait.


Dubai: View of the dining room where I enjoyed an elegant breakfast buffet during my one night stay in the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel just before leaving for Kuwait.

 


Dubai: Around the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. Thought I should include at least one photo of your author/photographer... O.K. I took more than one, but couldn't decide which one to keep.


Dubai: Other passengers on the water taxi/ferry boat I used to cross the Creek.


Dubai: One of the more expensive River Buses one may use to cross the creek. Fare for my open water taxi is one UAE dirham; for the bus it is four dirham.


Dubai: After checking out of the Dusit Princess Hotel and Paying back the $500 Lari Exchange "loaned" me over on Kish Island I booked a flight for Kuwait and waited at the bus station for the bus going to the Sharjah Airport. This is part of the market surrounding the terminal area. Seems like a strange place for a produce market, but here it is!


Dubai: Mosque on the grounds of a hospital along the southern banks of the Creek.


 


 


 


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


 


 


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.

 

 

24 December 2010

 

Seasons Greetings from Dubai on the shores of the Persian Gulf,

Hello from the architectural superlatives capital of the world. The Air India flight from Bangkok stopped in Delhi before continuing on to Dubai. Getting oriented has taken a few days, but already I'm beginning to learn a few interesting things about this city-state. For example, buses are gender segregated. Tired from hours of walking I plopped myself down in one of the available good seats near the front of a bus (and behind a flimsy turnstile meant to exclude males) and only later saw the BIG sign on the window glass announcing "Ladies and families only." The several ladies sitting around me seemed amused and when finally realizing my Faux pas and getting ready to move my fanny to an approved location one gestured for me to sit still. I guess they make exceptions for disoriented male foreigners... or maybe it is for white haired septuagenarians (Actually, on subsequent days I saw many young men use the unoccupied seats until being chased out by arriving ladies or the bus driver). Another cultural oddity, men stand in lines to buy bus tickets, but women are allowed by custom to crowd right to the head of the line for their purchases.

While Dubai has a long history full of Arab tribes, surprisingly everyone I met during the first few days here has been either from the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh or Pakistan! I can't imagine where all the native born UAE citizens keep themselves. The foreign workers are running the country as far as I can tell, from security personnel and policemen to hotel staff and bankers. I guess the rich Emirati sheiks spend their time shopping or making new multibillion dollar deals to turn the few remaining parcels of empty desert real-estate into new eight star hotels or glitzy sprawling shopping centers. There sure are a lot of the latter.

This city state is an architectural extravaganza. The vast majority of high rise buildings express some designer's wild dream; there are non-linear surfaces everywhere - some creating the most improbable shapes imaginable. There is even one building widely reported to be under construction that is designed to change shape, though even after a good deal of searching I couldn't locate the darned thing. It now turns out to be a wild figment of some guys imagination  for "dynamic architecture!"

My first night $70 3-star Orchid Hotel in Dubai turned out to be a disaster. With only one sheet and no blankets in a room cooled to wine cellar temperatures, I nearly froze to death... and the next morning suffered through the flimsiest basic breakfast I have ever seen.

The first morning after arrival I walked the city shopping for hotels as is my custom. Friday in this Muslim country is like Sunday in other parts of the world. Hotels continue to operate of course, but the streets and sidewalks are deserted until noon when the usual shopping activity resumes. Most of the acceptable lodges I found caused immediate sticker shock, until I stumbled on the Al Khaleej gem hidden off an ally from one of the main streets near the "Creek." The 3-star  Al Khaleej Hotel is better, if a bit pricey at $84. Breakfast is included, but is served in a tiny dungeon like room with intimate atmospheric lighting that makes finding anything on your plate without a flashlight difficult.

 

Early morning diners and serving staff jostle one another during essential trips around the cramped buffet layout. Breakfast consists of olives, honey, yogurt, toast, eggs, lunch meat (no pork, of course), dates, dried apricots and figs, many kinds of cheeses, fresh fruits, MŘesli with strange milk (camel?), toast and pastries, a strange sour stuffed pepper thing the size of a hard boiled egg, several choices of reconstituted juices, a croquet-like patty filled with some unknown green paste, coffee or tea.

Internet access is adequate and my room on the eighth floor faces the "Creek," actually an estuary with a lot of nautical activity. Last night I watched for an hour as a large fleet of 20 passenger ferryboats worked the wharf below my window. Before this visit I always associated the Persian Gulf states with deserts and camels, not boats!

 

I'm walking enough to get normally tired as well as feeling the threat of more blisters. The sciatic nerve pains are nearly a thing of the past. So, it really was all in my head... just as asserted in so many words during the Teaching Company neurology lecture series I just completed: great stuff. I can hardly wait to watch the new Brain lecture series that arrived after I left.

Today I bussed over to the fabulous Burj Al Arab Hotel and learned from the entry guard that only guests paying $2500 a night for someplace to sleep are allowed unfettered entry to the grounds... unless they have a reservation at one of the outrageously expensive hotel restaurants. I'll continue to investigate ways to finesse an invitation without depleting my sack of gold... perhaps I could pose as a reporter with plans to interview one of the many world famous people who loiter in the place. "How much would a breakfast set me back?" I asked the security guard.

 

"About 250 Durham," he said with a smirk. That's around $70. I just might have to splurge unless I can figure out another way to finesse a less expensive visit... where there is a will, there is a way, they say.

Parched Southern California and Nevada could learn a few things from Dubai. Both hotels I've tried have had instant hot water which means they have circulation plumbing to eliminate running cold water until it becomes hot. I'm sure that must save a lot of water. Public bus stops offer air conditioned waiting rooms: little eight seat pods with two pods at some locations. This time of year is not all that hot, but I can imagine travelers would find them life savers in the summer heat.

One of the things I never see here is anything like Latin machismo. Arab males hardly give any woman a second look... even the gorgeous non-Muslim ones in provocative clothes with exposed faces. Even the foreign young men are ultra-discrete when snatching a furtive glance at a particularly attractive girl strutting her stuff. Most of the women without masks are of foreign origin of course and they form the vast majority of the female population in Dubai. Also, I've seen NO beggars anywhere, probably because the practice is against the law here and according to a newspaper article, the law is enforced! The few scruffy people I've seen all seem to have been workmen in the middle of dirty jobs.

I'm still trying to make arrangements for a bus trip over to Muscat, the capital city of Oman. Several people have given me consistent directions to the bus terminal, but none actually got me there until my conversation with Hessa, a young twenty something female Muslim travel agent I found near one of the city bus terminals. When I asked about her head to toe black garment she replied that one observes HIJAB (covering the head and the body) because Allah has so commanded. Wondering about the prohibition of social contact with unrelated men, this single lady informed me she was free to speak to men without the presence of a male relative because: "It is part of my job!"... even answering irreverent questions posed by an infidel citizen of the Great Satan. And, I had a lot of questions. Who would choose her husband, I wondered aloud? "I will choose my cousin because we are from the same family and everyone will approve... and it will be less complicated"

"But what of the possible genetic incompatibilities of close relatives?" I asked.

"Oh, there will be blood tests before we decide. If there are complications, the authorities would not approve... but we could still marry, if we decided to assume the risks ourselves." she replied circumspectly.

"Westerners assume women have fewer civil rights than men in Muslim countries. I wonder how women actually feel here in this very modern city; some have told me the benefits outweigh the inconveniences." I ventured.

"Oh, yes. That is something many of us think must change, and there are changes taking place. For example, I can now work in a public occupation and some of our politicians are women, too. Not too long ago that would not have been possible. There are many highly placed women in business as well. Still, there are woman's activist groups here in the UAE working for even more equality. You seem very well informed on these matters." she noted. That made me suspect few foreign men ask the kinds of questions I'd been asking.

Maps are next to useless with a compass, something I always carry during foreign travels. For one thing, Dubai maps are oriented with the top pointing to the SSE! Wrap that around your internal GPS and you will see the source of my navigational confusions. The sun is never where I expect it to be at any particular time of the day.

Saturday I rode the Metro transit trains from one end to the other. At the western end is one of the most lavish and unusual shopping centers in the world: Ibn Battuta Mall, named after an imminently famous Arabian explorer of ancient times- kind of the Middle Eastern Marco Polo. The mall is divided into five pavilions themed to represent each of the regions visited by old Ibn. Shoppers wander through what feels like meticulously restored archeological sites onto which has been grafted 21st century glitter. The whole place is impressive and fun to ogle. One could easily spend days window shopping and snacking here.

As this is the Christmas shopping season, cheerful Christmas music fills the air while shoppers boost the bottom line for retail establishments in the mall... even though very few shoppers would be Christians! It occurred to me that one of the most appreciated Christian contributions to cultures world wide is the music. No other religion, with the possible exception of Hinduism has such a large repertoire of upbeat joyful musical celebrations associated with it. Today, of course, much of that gay music is secular.

Dubai is noticeably more expensive than other places I've visited around the world. It is hard to get a meal in a restaurant for under ten dollars, even at a Burger King. To my delight and relief, laws here restrict smokers for the protection of non-smokers almost everywhere. Transportation is well thought out and the integrated bus-train prepaid fare card subtracts from your deposit according to how far you have traveled: a trip from one end of the Metro train to the other costs about $1.15 and that is the most you can pay for any one ride around town.

While visiting the Bruj Khalifa near the Dubai Mall I spoke with Bernard, a security guard from Uganda and learned he is paid about $400 a month for his services (... about $2.50/hour). Later, while shopping for a map, the young Philippina store clerk confided that she pays 700 Dirham ($195) per month for "bed space," which for her is an upper bunk bed in an apartment shared by six girls! Life is very expensive in Dubai for everyone, not just the visitors. The Bruj Khalifa is the tallest tower in the world and looks like something gleaming out of a science fiction film. Throngs of visitors are treated to dancing water fountain shows throughout the day in the surrounding expansive plaza.


With so many foreign workers, English is the common language spoken by just about everyone I've met; great for native English speakers like me. This is a Muslim country, of course, so the muezzins sing their call to prayer five times a day... starting at 5:30 AM... well before sunrise! The melody is distinctly different from what I recall in other Islamic countries, softer, more musical, hardly the harsh "shouts" remembered from Egypt or Turkey.

Soda cans still use the pull tabs we replaced with the integral design a decade ago. I suspect obsolete equipment manufacturers found happy customers here in the Gulf region eager to grab a bargain. Longtime readers will remember one of my pleasures is wandering dark allies at night in strange towns. Forget that in Dubai. There are so many lights in the city nowhere is ever dark. Maybe that is why a British couple caught kissing in public was arrested here last week! Actually, the newspaper article failed to mention they were also intoxicated, rowdy and refused discrete requests from police on the scene to be more respectful of local customs, according to Mohammad, a handsome Dubai policeman originally from Oman I met in one of the Souks.

 

He shared enthusiastically his knowledge of Islamic customs, especially the high regard younger people have for their elders. According to him, children are "eager" to provide loving care for parents when they become terminally ill and would never consider hiring strangers to meet their needs. I had a hard time getting him to change the subject once he got going and wondered if he might have been struggling with feeling of guilt!

Something some might find interesting is the possible mnemonic origins of the Arabic numeral system. According to this legend, the numerals originally were written with a lot of straight lines and the number of interior angles equaled the quantity represented by the symbol. I searched the Internet, but couldn't find confirmation. However, that is what a display at the Persian Pavilion in the Ibn Battuta Mall claimed. It makes a good story even if not literally true.

My comment about the health implications of the Root of all Evil video in the Bangkok postcard was meant to be a provocation, not an editorial. I wanted to include the link for anyone who had not previously seen the film. One easily may conclude that ALL dogmatic religious practices can have destructive impacts on human health unless the individual feels more comfort than constraint from the dictates of his/her faith and limits the practice of faith to its personal implications. The minute anyone feels in any way constrained by their faith or feels compelled to constrain the beliefs or actions of others, they are bound to suffer from chronic physical/psychological stress and that is not healthy... ALL the credible evidence I've seen supports that conclusion!

My personal studies for the past several decades have focused on the nature of ultimate reality: "What can human beings expect to eventually learn about the nature of our vast universe and how does consciousness relate to that reality?"
Closer to Truth is the personal quest of Robert Lawrence Kuhn. I discovered the series on the Public Broadcasting Station while recovering from the aftermath of open heart surgery. Nearly every episode has blown my mind. An archive of past episodes is available online.

Back in 2001 while traveling in Spain after the epic trek through Africa, I wrote: "Away from the major cities in east/west/central Africa white skin actually does denote wealth. The poorest white person is almost always far richer than the wealthiest black person in a village. The range of reaction to this reality runs the spectrum from awe to envy. Perhaps more importantly, poverty does not equate with lives devoid of abundant joy; preoccupation with those in more affluent circumstances does."

 

I have often lamented the disparity between the richest and poorest members of humanity. It is with deep sadness that I learn the situation has not changed for the better in any of my seventy-six years on this planet. Quite the opposite: the gap widens everywhere we look around the world. People gripe from time to time and our political leaders vow to take action, but nothing ever really changes. My guess is that eventually the neglected and exploited masses will finally come to their senses and revolt against the unconscionable unfairness of the  world's dominant political-economic systems, but that may be a naive speculation (Little could I have known that a couple months after writing this there indeed would be revolts erupting in my wake throughout the Middle East and specifically in Bahrain where I witnessed the preludes first hand. 3/15/2011). Another friend sent me an authoritative assessment of the price society pays for the growing wealth gap. If you check out the site, be sure to link to The Evidence. One would think enlightened self interest would propel humanity toward a more equal distribution of resources.

 

The following piece has intensified my outrage to the point of action. Take a look at: Wealth Disparities in U.S. Approaching 1920s Levels. The world continues to be manipulated by the power elite and this article underscores that outrageous fact.  When you are ready for a bitter dose of reality, check out this piece by Robert Jensen: The end of the American Dream. It is an hour long lecture on the sober realities facing the human family in the immediate future and steps that must be taken mostly by the developed world if the human race is to survive with anything like dignity. He makes it clear that it is now too late to avoid many of the perils, that the best we can hope for is to minimize the impact of the disastrous changes already underway.

 

The problem is that those of us in the richest part of the world who enjoy pursuing the "American Dream" are likely to only be inconvenienced during the remainders of our lives. However, for the majority of people now living on a dollar a day, true life threatening disaster already is inevitable!

 

More when something noteworthy happens along the trail, probably from somewhere in Oman. Until then,

Peace

Fred L Bellomy


PS: A good general maps site is here:
mappery.com -

 

 

1 January 2011

Back again after seven days in Muscat Oman. I'm back here four nights before heading off to Abu Dhabi.

 

 

 

8 January 2011

 

I am back again in Dubai after a quick, three night exploration of Abu Dhabi... more about that in the Abu Dhabi postcard. After two days in my old standby hotel, the Al Khaleej in the Russian district next to the Creek I found and moved over to the MUCH nicer and only slightly more expensive Fortune Grand Hotel next to one of the restored ancient round towers.


For now, it is back to enjoying my latest astounding value hotel, the $96 Fortune Grand that I decided to splurge on for a while: I deserve it, right? Actually, the $96 is towards the lower end of the range for expensive Dubai... and less than five percent of the $2500 per night they get at the Burj Al Arab!

The muezzins have started their evening yelling... er, singing/chanting as it is nearly 6PM and time for prayers once again.  Truth is, not many people pay much attention to the call to prayer, but the yellers do their thing anyway.

 

 

23 January 2011

 

I'm once again back in Dubai after a six night visit to the Iranian island of Kish. It should not have been a surprise, but all the good value hotels I've used in the past are fully booked until next weekend. There is some sort of health conference underway and every hotel is fully booked with conventioneers. In desperation I stopped at the new Movenpick Hotel and the concierge called around and found me a room in a four star 600 dirham place called the Dusit Princess, a truly luxurious house with free WiFi Internet access... which I'm using right now. I'll plan to cut this segment in Dubai short and dash on to one of the other destinations on my "bucket list." I ended up making a quick dash over to Kuwait and then to Bahrain before returning to Dubai

 

12 February 2011

 

I'm back in Dubai once more. The day before I left Bahrain my web page for Bahrain ceased to be displayed with the latest edited drafts. Government censors apparently are serving an old cached version to any requests from within the country. It looks like someone doesn't like my irreverent references to the king of Bahrain... a punishable offense in Bahrain, by the way! I suppose I should be grateful nothing worse than a little censorship happened.

 

While using the men's room at the airport just before my afternoon flight, about a half dozen men performed their cleansing ritual purification in preparation for prayer. They looked like a bunch of street people I'd seen in the Santa Barbara Library men's room taking vigorous "baths" with soap and water from the sinks, water splashing the walls and floors. The ritual is something to see. First the arms and hands get a good scrubbing, then water is splashed on the face, then each nostril is individually washed and snorted clean, then each ear gets scrubbed in preparation for the grand finale: washing the feet... one at a time in the sink! ... with soap and water. Each man made sure every prescribed part of his body got thorough attention.

 

Never mind the mess being made. Never mind others using the restroom had to wait for the gang of guys to finish their lengthy ritual. Never mind I now got to wash my dainty hands in the same sink just used to scrub a bunch of dirty feet! Such cleanliness is commendable, but in an airport restroom while others are waiting to wash their hands and rush off to a flight? As I stood watching incredulously, the guys checked me out as well before finishing with wads of paper towels and shuffling off across the airport lounge to the men's prayer room and I meandered back in line for my boarding flight.

 

Television sets all over the airport continued to report on the huge anti-government demonstrations in Egypt: Mubarak still had not announced his resignation and the angry people kept the loud protests going through the night. One monitor carried a different sort of program though: dramatized "bible stories."  Well, almost certainly stories from the Qu'ran, but the old bearded guy standing at the entrance to a large tent with a staff in one hand and reading from a large book in the other to people tending flocks of sheep could just as well have been stories out of the old Christian-Jewish bible... assuming Arabic had been the language of choice. The next day Mubarak capitulated and ran off to his Red Sea hideout, ending thirty years of harsh treatment of dissidents and corrupt management of the country's wealth.

 

This afternoon I tried to get a haircut, but got chased out of a Ladies Saloon with the "No men in here." pronouncement urgently delivered by a young female hair dresser who quickly closed the entry door and then opened a tiny picture frame sized window off to the side to complete our short conversation. Friendly, but firm, she directed me down the street to a men's saloon (yep, that's what they call 'em.) where the uniform military cuts insure no clean shaven male would ever be mistaken for a woman defying Islamic law by exhibiting her long hair.

 

I've been in Dubai this time only three nights before rushing on to the next destination. Tomorrow at 17:00 I leave for Qatar on FlyDubai Airline flight FZ-005. This is the last of the Persian Gulf countries I'll be able to visit this trip.

 

19 February 2011

 

I returned to Dubai from Qatar to once again find all my usual hotels fully booked. So, quick arrangements and I'm flying back to Bangkok tonight.
 



Dubai: Bruj al Arab Hotel; it does indeed look like a sail-boat, doesn't it. This unique building caught my attention a few years ago and prompted me to include Dubai on my short list of adventure travel destinations. I never managed to get inside the structure as exorbitant admissions fees are in effect.



Dubai: Photogenic view of pilings along the Creek.


Dubai: Water taxi activity along the Creek.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum I met Mohammad, a Dubai policemen originally from Oman.


Dubai: This is souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum where I met Mohammad, a Dubai policemen from Oman and his friend Ahmad, a store keeper from India.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum I met Mohammad who became fascinated by my tiny "CIA" camera and wanted to try it out. I became his amused subject and the picture turned out so good I decided to keep it.


Dubai: One of the fancy boats used for dinner cruises along the Creek.


Dubai: Part of the waterfront along the creek that runs by my hotel.


Dubai: Humorous city promotional sign I saw near the hotel.


Dubai: Another humorous city promotional sign I saw near the hotel.


Dubai: Another of the displays in the unusual Dubai Museum. The main part of the cavernous exhibit halls is deep under ground... and cool.


Dubai: Another of the displays in the unusual Dubai Museum. The main part of the cavernous exhibit halls is deep under ground... and cool.


Dubai: One of the displays in the unusual Dubai Museum. The main part of the cavernous exhibit halls is deep under ground... and cool.


Dubai: A camel sculpture near the creek wharf. Notice the huge portrait of the sheik of Dubai in the background.


Dubai: Another of the several painted camel sculptures I saw around town.


Dubai: One of several painted horse sculptures I saw around town.


Dubai: Another of several painted camel sculptures I saw around town.


Dubai: One of the many colorful planters scattered around town.


Dubai: The iconic Clock Tower stands in the center of a major traffic circle near the Deira City Center.


Dubai: Iconic fish round; sculpture sits in the middle of a principle traffic circle near several hotels I used.


Dubai: Stop sign in Arabic... which reminds me of a mother worm admonishing her baby worm to be careful.


Dubai: Sign on the door of the only travel agent in Dubai authorized to arrange travel visas to Iran.


Dubai: Announcement display in the departure lounge where I waited for my flight to Kish Iran.


Dubai: One sees signs like this all over town. Rents are not cheap: one female store clerk told me she pays about $200 for a bunk bed space in an apartment shared with five other girls.


Dubai: Bruj al Arab Hotel. Photo taken from the Metro train.


Dubai: View of the boat activity in the "creek" as seen from the window of my room in the Al Khaleej Hotel.


Dubai: Diagram of the creek-side area across from my hotel.


Dubai: Other passengers on the ferryboat that carries 20 as we prepare to cross the "creek."


Dubai: More of the waterfront along the creek that runs by my hotel.


Dubai: These 20 passenger water taxis or ferryboats provide round the clock connections between the two sides of the creek. Very few women ride these boats.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek I found the unusual Dubai Museum that has been built to look like an historic fort. The main part of the cavernous exhibit halls is deep under ground... and cool.


Dubai: A couple of the colorful planters seen around town. Each design is unique. Notice the black clad figure in the background.


Dubai: The iconic Clock Tower stands in the center of a major traffic circle near the Deira City Center.


Dubai: Nautical activity on the Creek.


Dubai: Photogenic view of a water taxi tiller on the Creek.


Dubai: The foundation of the Burj Nahar is constructed from coral and other soft sandstones. It is one of three watchtowers constructed in 1870 to guard against invasion by sea. Today it sits next to the Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights while in the city.


 


 


 


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Close up shot of the stone foundation of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Entrance to the Iranian consulate where I learned visas are available only at a single authorized travel agency in the city. After searching on foot for several hours Ali, a Dubai policeman gave me a ride over to the consulate... because "you are old.".


Dubai: Street sign on the closest intersection near the entrance to the Iranian consulate

 
Need to add captions for many photos here.

 

 


Dubai: Bruj al Arab Hotel; it does indeed look like a sail-boat, doesn't it.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, currently the tallest building in the world. Sorry for so many similar photos, but I'll probably never be by this way again.


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world.


Dubai: World's tallest building captured by one of the smallest pocket digital cameras, the Philips KEY019


Dubai: Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. There is a lot of open space around the tower including a pond that blossoms into a wild dancing fountain occasionally.


Dubai: Water is a big deal here. One sees scenes like this all along the sidewalks of the business district every morning.


Dubai 2010: The meaning of the sign on the window of this bus is clear enough, but I didn't see it until I'd been sitting in the women's reserved section for a while. The ladies let me stay for the duration of the ride.


Dubai: One of the ultra-modern air-conditioned bus stop pods. What a delight to wait for buses!


Dubai 2010: This is the Orchid Hotel where I got stuck the first night in Dubai.


Dubai 2010: Meager breakfast at the Orchid Hotel for my first night in Dubai. I got out of there quick.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek I found the unusual Dubai Museum that has been built to look like an historic fort. The main part of the cavernous exhibit halls is deep under ground... and cool.


Dubai: Field of blue flowers being tended by gardener near the Metro Union Station.


Dubai: East entrance to the Metro Union Station near several hotels I used during my several stays in the city. Notice one of the policemen waving at me... in greeting... or warning me not to take this picture... I'm not sure. I only noticed his wave after processing the camera contents.


Dubai: Enlargement of the policemen waving at me; the officer doesn't look too happy, either... I thought for a minute this policeman might have been the one I met earlier in a souk.


Dubai: Sign next to the Metro station landscaped area. What the heck is "shisha" and isn't this sign a poster?


Dubai: Three block long landscaped boulevard divider near the Fortune and City Star hotels I used.


Dubai: Wide landscaped boulevard divider runs about three blocks near two of the hotels I used while in the city.


Dubai: View from the roof of the $98 Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights.


Dubai: View from the roof of the $98 Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights.


Dubai: Another view from the roof of the $98 Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights.


Dubai: One of the cargo porters who locate themselves around town waiting for a job. My messing with my tiny camera caught the attention of the guy on the right.


Dubai: One of the cargo porters who locate themselves around town waiting for a job.


Dubai: Day laborers nap whenever they have no toting work. Scenes like this are seen all around the wharf area.


Dubai: North side of the creek seen from the south side of the bridge across the creek.


Dubai: North side of the creek seen from the bridge crossing to the south side. The boat is a currently unengaged water taxi.


Dubai: A sea of white flowers as far as the camera can see near the bridge crossing the Dubai Creek, actually a seawater estuary.


Dubai: River dinner cruise boats line the wharf area along the southern side of the Creek.


Dubai: This is the Burj Nahar, one of three watchtowers constructed in 1870 to guard against invasion by sea. Today it sits next to the Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights while in the city.


Dubai: Entrance to the $96 four star Fortune Grand Hotel near the iconic fish round.


Dubai: Exterior of the $96 Fortune Grand Hotel near the iconic fish round.


Dubai: Close up of the base of the Burj Nahar, one of three watchtowers constructed in 1870 to guard against invasion by sea. Today it sits next to the Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights while in the city.


Dubai: Looking up to the sole entry door into the Burj Nahar some fifteen meters above the ground, one of three watchtowers constructed in 1870 were built to guard against invasion by sea. Today it sits next to the Fortune Hotel where I stayed several nights while in the city.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: This is the watchtower corner of the fort now used as a museum located in the Bur Dubai region along the southern banks of the Creek.


Dubai: Iranian Hospital beautifully decorated in blue tile. It is located near the Iranian Embassy in Dubai.


Dubai: Another view of the Iranian Hospital near the Iranian Embassy in Dubai.


Dubai: A closer view of the blue tile decorations.


Dubai: Another view of the Iranian Hospital near the Iranian Embassy in Dubai.


Dubai: Photogenic view of pilings along the Creek.


Dubai: Photogenic view of a water taxi tiller on the Creek.


Dubai: Explanation of the Wall of Old Dubai.


Dubai: Building on the south side of the Creek. I liked the intricate decorations on the facade.


Dubai: Water taxi at sunset on the Creek.


Dubai: Flocks of sea gulls follow one of the river buses as it transports passengers from one side of the creek to the other... for four times what the open water taxis charge.


Dubai: Sea gulls pose for my camera along the docks at the Creek.


Dubai: Explanation of Ibn Battuta's travel exploits as seen in the fabulous shopping mall that bears his name.


Dubai: Information sign in the Ibn Battuta shopping mall.


Dubai: Metro station at the Ibn Battuta shopping mall.


Dubai: Freeway sign near the Metro station at the Ibn Battuta shopping mall.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum I came across this police salvage operation and learned one of the water taxis overloaded with GOLD had overturned leading to this big operation to retrieve the gold. This is the police captain in charge of the operation who provided the details.


Dubai: In the souk on the opposite side of the creek near the Dubai Museum I came across this police salvage operation and learned one of the water taxis overloaded with GOLD had overturned leading to this big operation to retrieve the gold.


Dubai: Near the souk on the opposite side of the creek and near the Dubai Museum I found this photogenic mosque.


Dubai: Solar powered parking meter payment station. It dispenses a payment card.


Dubai: One of the windows for purchase of the 20 Durham bus tickets for Abu Dhabi, a two hour ride down the road on buses that leave every 30 minutes. Notice the separate lines for men and women!


Dubai: This is one of the buses for Abu Dhabi, a two hour ride down the road on buses that leave every 30 minutes.


Dubai: The new Al Zarouni Mosque under construction in downtown Dubai.


Dubai: Sign marking the new Al Zarouni Mosque under construction in downtown Dubai.


Dubai: Iconic fish round provides a well known landmark when I get lost.


Dubai: Entrance to a vacant building I discovered during one of my many walks around the city. Notice the name: Bin Ladin!


Dubai: Triple grab poles on the Metro cars. Very practical.


Dubai: In the Duty-Free area of the departure lounge at the Sharjah International Airport I found this display of one of my old neighbors in Santa Barbara. Here is George Cloony selling expensive watches to the super wealthy Emiratis. His face caught my attention, but didn't persuade me to spend thousands for a useless time piece... that I couldn't read with my old eyes in any case.


Dubai: In the duty free section of the departure lounge I saw plenty of high quality/expensive liquor on sale; this promotional poster is a reminder that anyone with money can get alcoholic beverages whenever they want in this Muslim country.


Dubai: Twenty passenger water taxis sit idle during the off hours across from my hotel. They serve as very busy ferries in the afternoon and evening rush hours.


Dubai: Further on down the wharf from the passenger water taxis is this very congested cargo handling area.


Dubai: Further on down the wharf from the passenger water taxis a number of cargo vessels sit tied up waiting for cargo operations.


Bangkok 2010: Sign saying no littering along sidewalks with no trashcans.


Dubai: Around the Bruj Khallifa, tallest building in the world. Thought I should include at least one photo of your author/photographer.


Dubai: Entrance to the pharmacy where I bought a refill prescription for generic 40mgm Simvastatin prior to leaving for Oman; cost $40!


Dubai: Iconic fish round; sculpture sits in the middle of a principle traffic circle near several hotels I used.


Dubai: Iconic fish round; sculpture sits in the middle of a principle traffic circle near several hotels I used.


Dubai: Iconic fish round; sculpture sits in the middle of a principle traffic circle near several hotels I used.


Dubai: North side of the creek seen from the bridge crossing to the south side. The boat is a currently unengaged water taxi.

 


Dubai: Part of the elegant breakfast buffet I enjoyed during my one night stay in the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel just before leaving for Kuwait.


Dubai: View of the spiral staircase leading down to the lobby of the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel where I stayed just before leaving for Kuwait.


Dubai: Portraits of the UAE royals hanging in the lobby of the $165 four star Dusit Princess Hotel where I stayed just before leaving for Kuwait.


Dubai: After checking out of the Dusit Princess Hotel and Paying back the $500 Lari Exchange "loaned" me over on Kish Island I booked a flight for Kuwait and waited at the bus station for the bus going to the Sharjah Airport. This is part of the market surrounding the terminal area. Seems like a strange place for a produce market, but here it is!


Dubai: Wide landscaped boulevard divider runs about three blocks near two of the hotels I used while in the city.


Dubai: One of the water buses that connect the two sides of the "creek." Take a ride in style for 4 Dirhams or use one of the open air river taxis for one Dirham! I used the cheaper, more interesting mode of transportation, naturally.

 

Need to add captions for many photos here.

 


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


 


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Another shot of the Burj Nahar.


Dubai: Close-up shot of the base of the Burj Nahar.


 


 


 


 

 

Reference photo: author
 August 2002
 

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