Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Emirates Old and New + Random Photos

The first time I visited the Emirates four years ago, I asked my sister, "what's old here?"

I have heard of the Emirates', especially Dubai's infrastructure reputation, as ultra-modern and hi-tech. Seeing and experiencing it was a visual proof of what a vast amount of space, money, and architectural expertise import can do.

Monumental buildings with state-of-the-art lifts that can transport me from the 1st to the 124th floor in 60 seconds is absolutely impressive, but I'm an old soul and moved by structures and sights steeped in history.

My family took me to Old Dubai in 2010, and I revisited Dubai museum on my recent trip. The fort was built to protect the natives from invading neighbouring tribes. The oldest surviving tower in the fort was built in 1787. 

Nothing has changed in the galleries since the last time I was there, so I will be posting a separate feature in the future to share the experience with you.

Courtyard of Al Fahidi Fort

A model house featuring a wind tower used for air conditioning

Before the oil trade, Dubai's economy relied on pearling industry, which collapsed in the 1930s due to the Japanese invention of cultured pearls. With the discovery of oil in 1966, Dubai began granting concessions to international oil companies. Dubai is 2012's 22nd most expensive city in the world, and the most expensive in the Middle East.

Inside a model house was a comfortable minimalist bedroom which is a far cry from the luxurious amenities today's Emiratis can afford.

The woman in black at Dubai museum. She seemed to have been moved since I last saw her in 2010. Tell me, are those boots she's wearing?

Where the Al Maktoum dynasty arose...

Al Ras Metro station is designed in the traditional Emirati home style with the tall wind tower. I prefer this over the below typical Metro station in downtown Dubai which I find very flashy and futiristic.


As telegrams were done before, this signage didn't bother with punctuation marks or full stop.

Traditional abras or Emirati boats stationed at Bur Dubai that ferry passengers across the creek to Al Sabkha on the Deira side. The fare is 1 Dirham or roughly 20 pence.  I bet you could only imagine locals cruising in their top-of-the-range cars.

My sister took a selfie of us while waiting for our boat to leave for Dubai museum

I don't know how this part of the boat was called, but it was rusty. Had it snapped and hit me, my travel insurer would have to pay for my tetanus treatment. I must say though that I enjoyed the ride on an abra as much as I enjoyed the lift ride to Burj Khalifa, for much much less--a Dirham against 125.

Only men seemed to be going into this building. Could be a mosque? Spotted while walking towards Dubai museum.

Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah at night

I was told the waterfront was carved to let the sea water in.

In here, it's always Friday.

These policies haven't caught up with modern times. Above is a signage outside a blacked out women's salon down the building where my sister and brother-in-law live. Below is a reminder on a bus to Abu Dhabi from Sharjah that the front seats are to be occupied by women only. It means that even if there are empty seats in the front area, the men will have to squeeze themselves at the back. Here, chivalry isn't dead as it is still always ladies first.

A view of the waterfront from the park

The mosque and fountain at the entrance of the park

Just a few minutes drive from my family's home, the waterfront park is ideal for recreation, dinner, and just to watch the fountain display at night.

The Blue Souq in Sharjah where gold and local products are sold.I love haggling here.

Built in the 70s, the Blue Souq is called as such because of the blue tiles which adorn its exterior.

Borrowed yet again from my sister's Instagram account. She captioned it as #bluesouk #bluesky #blueskirt

Almost like a cathedral

Various sizes of lamps sold in the souq. Why did I bring a weekend suitcase?

Yet more floors to climb at Burj Khalifa, as seen from the 124th floor observation deck

Snapshots of the waiting area at the Cheesecake Factory at the Mall of the Emirates

Part of the ceiling at Burjuman Centre

Part of the ceiling at the food court of Burjuman Centre

The dome at Mall of the Emirates. I love ceilings, did you say? I particularly favour ones that allow the use of natural light.

This has nothing to do with the rest but thought I'd include it. I went in to a women-only salon in another part of Sharjah and I was given this set to choose my nail colour from (the brand is Orly by the way). I like everything organised so this appeals to me. I picked the red shade on the upper left side.

So this was how the first month of the year has gone by for me. How was yours?

If you missed my first two posts about Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi, please click 'Dubai, from the Burj Khalifa' AND 'Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi'.


  1. Thanks for taking me with you on this trip. Very nice impressions and as I said before, I will add this destination to my travel list for 2015. And now that I've seen that there is a Cheesecake Factory, I definitely must make this trip happen :)

    1. Thanks Anouka. Cheesecake Factory seems to be everyone's favourite! They do have good food and gigantic serving :)

  2. Another very interesting post. I'm like you, I love old historic things. x

    1. Thank you. I love anything historical, whether ancient or war-related :)

  3. "So this was how the first month of the year has gone by for me. How was yours?" In comparison to yours, a pile of $%&*£! You are so lucky to have family in such a beautiful part of the world. I can't believe they are just minutes from that stunning waterfront.

    TGI have very recognisable branding because even in a different language I realised what it was.

    I have a love/hate relationship with that policy about women having sole occupancy of the front seats on the bus - I love seeing it, but I'd hate it if we had to practice it in the UK.

    I've just got to say how stunning that waterfront is. No holidays for me this year, I don't think, s it's nice to have experienced this trip. Enjoy the rest of your weekend xx

    1.'s just the beginning of the year, so you have 11 months more to go. And it was my bday month so I deserve some loving :D

      I wouldn't dare go into TGIF here, but it's different in Dubai. Food was just amazing. Plus I had proper real iced tea :)

      Don't even think about implementing that policy here in the UK. Probably in France where covering your face is already illegal.

      The waterfront was indeed beautiful, especially with the dancing fountain at night. That's man'made by the way. It's lovely during the summer months when it's sweltering in the UAE.

      This is probably my biggest holiday this year. Back to the daily grind. Sigh. Have a lovely week x

  4. What a great selection of varied photos showing familiar places in Dubai. Whenever we visit, we like to go down to the Creek and wander around 'Old Dubai.' I've always thought that the windtowers were such a clever idea! We like to have a mint lemonade in the Arabain Tea House too. The traditional Al Ras station is wonderful but I also like the futuristic ones too but that's just me ( I like cosy country cottages, glamorous French villas and minimalist apartments too!!)

    1. You know what, I'll explore Old Dubai more next time. I'm sure you love Al Qasba?? The Al Ras station of course is only traditional outside--you can imagine how modern it is inside. Have a lovely week :)

  5. lovely blog :)

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