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Our Journey to the UAE [20-Minute Video]

A short [20 minutes] video of our journey to the UAE.

 

One More Stop to Dubai Mall Before Heading Home

Before boarding the plane and saying goodbye to Dubai, we went back to Dubai Mall to meet up with Nduku and Mutethya’s cousin Nyiva. I can’t say enough about how huge this mall is. At 12.1 million square feet, it is the world’s largest mall in total area. One thousand and two hundred stores alone is more shopping options than some cities; The Mall of America has just under half the number of stores; Potomac Mills in Virginia, which is probably the largest mall in the area, only has 200 some stores.

We grabbed a bite to eat at [one of a couple] the food court. Dubai Mall has over 160 food and beverage outlets. And though we were 7,000 miles away from Washington, DC, the food court isn’t that much different from Potomac Mills. Even after a week, seeing Arabs lined up at McDonald’s was interesting. And then there was a place called Ribs and Rumps, but I didn’t check out the menu to see what kind of rumps they were serving. And since Dubai has everything America has, of course we’d find Church’s Chicken, but with an asterisk. In an Arabic Muslim country, church isn’t quite acceptable. And since Mosque’s Chicken doesn’t sound so tasty, it’s called Texas Chicken.

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Getting Away to Fujeirah and the Rest of the Country

As our trip draws to a close, what better way to top what we’ve done so far by getting out of town? Dubai is but one of seven Emirates, but by no means does Dubai represent what the UAE is like in general. Friday would be a day we saw the rest of the country. But first, we got something to eat at Burger King. Bean Royale anyone?

Bean Royale

Before we got on with the long road trip, we came across Sharjah Institute of Technology [I won’t say the acronym joke] and University City Hall. They would be the last modern looking structures for many, many miles. Many, many, many miles as we drove into the deserts.

We decided to head east, cutting through Sharjah en route to Fujeirah. The road to the Indian Ocean was about what I was expecting from a desert country. All desert. Even saw some real camels roaming the sands. Miles and miles of road surrounded by miles and miles of desert. Well, until we reached the mountains.

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Burj al Arab, Heritage Village, The Souks in Deira, Atlantis The Palm, Global Village — So Much To Do in One Day in Dubai

The day started with a quick trip to the store, but there’s nowhere in Dubai where there isn’t something to gaze at. One of the world’s most recognizable skyscrapers has been duplicated in Dubai, then duplicated right next to it. Not only does Dubai have two buildings styled after the Chrysler Building in New York, they even bought a 90 percent share in the original!

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Our Day Trip to Abu Dhabi, UAE

You know, I used to think that the United Arab Emirates was a part of Saudi Arabia. Seriously. I thought it was a special part of Saudi Arabia set aside as a tourist destination, free from the Wahhabi influence from the main, uh, desert. I mean, who names a country UAE anyway? Then again, we are the USA, huh?

But the UAE is an actual country. The country consists of seven emirates [essentially states]. Abu Dhabi is the capital; Dubai is the juggernaut. The other five are Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain, but none are as flush with money as Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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Dubai Aquarium, Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach Walk — Did I Mention How Uber-Rich Everyone Is?

Nduku has three sisters, each with at least one child. Najwa has a total of seven first cousins if you include my brother’s three children. She has dozens more second and distant cousins since Nduku has 20+ aunts and uncles. Family tree? Najwa has a family forest!

Of all the first cousins though, Alexander is the first one she met. Not that either of them will remember this moment, but it was good to introduce Najwa to her first first cousin. When we landed in Dubai around midnight, Alexander was asleep. The next morning when the cousins met, let’s just say they weren’t as excited to meet as we were for them to meet.

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Strolling Through Emirates Mall in Dubai

Since Nduku’s sister and brother-in-law had to work, they got us tickets for the hop on hop off Big Bus tour so we can get a little taste of everything Dubai. We caught a cab to Emirates Mall where the indoor ski slope is. Normally the thrill seeker in me would want to experience it, but something about spending the entire week in a cast made me change my mind.

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Najwa Running Around After the Dubai Creek Cruise [Video]

After we debarked from the hour-long cruise in Dubai Creek, we had a little time to wait until The Big Bus came back through. Najwa, forced to sit still for an hour, was ready to spread her wings and fly. Every time she got a chance to run around, we were boarding another bus. And another. And another.

So, what the hell, we just let her go…

 

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Our First Journey Into The City of Gold — Dubai

With so much to do but a whole week to get it done, we spent our first real day out and about on The Big Bus. Every big city has them. The hop on hop off tour buses which take you from one site to the next and gives you a true snapshot of what a city has to offer.

We started our tour at Emirates Mall, but with an entire city to explore, we didn’t waste any time getting on with the tour. Once we got on the main road, what I would consider a highway considering everyone was averaging 100 mph, we were greeted with a sign warning about a sand storm. But a Dubai sand storm isn’t what you see in the movies. No gusts of wind blowing grains of sand in our eyes. Actually, if it wasn’t for the sign, we probably wouldn’t have noticed there was a sand storm other than the fact that we couldn’t see the skyline in the distance. It looked more like a fog obscuring the buildings.

Sign warning us of a sand storm in Dubai

Sign warning of a sand storm in Dubai.

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First Moments Out on the Roads of Dubai

We finally headed out to explore the city. My goodness was I in for a big surprise. Expecting this exotic land tucked away in the corners of Arabia, I was waiting for the sounds, smells and sites of a foreign land. But I can’t explain how normal I felt. Not only because essentially the majority of the people are also foreigners, but America’s fingerprint was everywhere!

In America it seems like overnight that Spanish words showed up alongside English words on all the signs. In Dubai English words are paired up everywhere with Arabic words, even on their traffic signs.

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