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The City of Gold – Dubai!

#Shutterbug Travel Shaikh Mohammed Saif • June 12, 2017
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This trip was as random as random gets!

My sister was cribbing that she rarely gets to go on trips with her friends and that’s when, out of the blue, she said, “chal, let’s go Dubai.” I was quite honestly taken aback with the ease with which she just said Dubai as if it is the station after Dadar! A couple of calls to friends there, a glance over the dates and that’s how my first international trip got finalized!

Tickets were booked, and on 6th October last year, we set off to the Land of Gold! The travel itinerary had been arrranged by my closest friend Dheeraj, who is from Dubai. As soon as we landed, I rang my friends who picked us up. Instead of going to Dheeraj’s place to rest and freshen up, we went straight to this club called Royal Ascot and greeted Dubai! Music blasting across the place, people dolled and dapper, exotic sheesha’s around, it was safe to say that we had arrived!

While at Royal Ascot, we discussed the places we would visit, activities we would do, shopping and so on.

Day 1: To the surprise of many of our friends back home, we skipped Ferrari World, Dubai and instead went to the recently opened, world’s largest indoor theme park, The Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari World of Adventure or IMG World of Adventure.

Thrilling rides, roller coasters, live shows & attractions crammed into 4 zones, MARVEL, Lost Valley, Cartoon Network and IMG Boulevard, it was worth every minute spent there. Rides featuring superhero icons such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, The Avengers and Power Puff Girls sent our minds into a tizzy! The Lost Valley took us back in time to the prehistoric kingdom of dinosaurs and the mega launch coaster, ‘The Velociraptor’ made us scream our lungs out!
The live shows were the perfect icing on the cake and they completed a full day of crazy kick-ass adventure.

I thought I had had enough enjoyment for the day until we stepped outside. A Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a gold Bentley, a Maserati, a Dodge and a Mustang, all lined up right outside the exit. For a person who is taken aback by the sight of supercars, it was a sight to behold. How could I miss the chance of clicking some pictures with cars I would probably only see once in a lifetime?

We dined on some exquisite Lebanese food and then called it a day after walking for 12 hours around the theme park.

Day 2: Thanks to a long day the day before, we spent the first half of the day lazying around with some street shopping at the Dirham shops close to where we were staying.

Post lunch, another close friend, Naghma, joined us along with her husband and my good friend, Salman for the Desert Safari. Everyone had told me that the Desert Safari is something you have to experience. The desert is an exquisite location and the safari is the icing on the cake! It is definitely one heck of a ride. As you go deeper into the desert the the ride gets wilder and wilder, a rollercoaster of a different kind. The drivers are simply amazing in the way they navigate the terrain, their control over the car is simply a class apart. The driver halted at a couple of places so we could snap up some pictures and admire the sunset right from the centre of the desert. The peace there was at another level.

After a crazy 30 minute rollercoaster trip, we arrived at our desert camp. The camp is no less than a fair. Extensive rows of tables set up in a traditional manner so guests can unwind and enjoy the spectacles of belly-dancing, the fire-show and a traditional Tanoura dance that followed. I have to say, the shisha was a bit of a let down. I was looking forward to smoking some top notch flavours, but then realized I make it way better (brownie points to me from me)

The dancing began and it left us in awe, the fire-show took us by surprise and so did the Tanoura dance. The food consisted of Arabic food, but it could have been much better in my opinion!

I agreed with what everyone had told me – the desert safari is truly one of the most unique and authentic offerings of Dubai.

Day 3: After the desert safari, we moved to a friend’s place in the “IT center of Dubai”. Day 3 was going to be a long drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in order to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is truly an architectural marvel which any visitor should definitely pay a visit to. It is a work of art that leaves everyone in awe of its beauty.

Here are some facts about the mosque that might just give you an idea of its magnificence:

  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s design and construction “unites the world”, using artisans and materials from many countries including India, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Republic of Macedonia and United Arab Emirates
  • There are four minarets on the four corners of the courtyard which rise about 107 m (351 ft) in height. The courtyard, with its floral design, measures about 17,000 m2 (180,000 sq ft) and is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.
  • The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet, measuring 60, 570 sq. ft!
  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven imported chandeliers, that incorporate millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque, the third largest in the world and has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.
  • There are 96 marble pillars in the main prayer hall, each delicately inlaid with mother of pearl
  • Apart from this, the marble flooring, the pillars have been intricately hand painted and the mosque uses a special lighting system in evening hours that follows the phases of the moon – they gradually become lighter as the moon becomes full
  • It is the final resting place of the late visionary president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was buried in the courtyard of the Mosque

Before you visit the mosque, be sure to wear proper attire:

  • Long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or skirts for women and men.
  • Women must wear a headscarf

Our visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was a revelation indeed. The stunning works of art and architecture that brings together people from across the globe under one roof to spread love and thought is simply inspiring.

Day 4: After being hosted for a couple of days by our family friend, we headed off to check out the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa! While we were traveling in and around Dubai, the building was visible from practically as far as the eye could see! I simply couldn’t wait to get up-close and personal with it.

We visited at The Dubai Mall first, and did some shopping while being surrounded by this humongous structure. We also checked out the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. I have to say, the Sheikhs definitely know how to attract a crowd!

The Khalifa’s sheer vibe is something to experience first-hand. It is no surprise that at over 828 meters (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa holds the following records:

  • Tallest building in the world
  • Tallest free-standing structure in the world
  • Highest number of stories in the world
  • Highest occupied floor in the world
  • Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
  • Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
  • Tallest service elevator in the world

The famed fountain show that takes place daily at Burj Khalifa showed us why Dubai is a crowd favorite. Check out the video below and you’ll know why!

I will never forget the time spent at Shakespeare and Co. Located bang opposite the Burj Khalifa, it gave ‘living the life’ a whole new meaning!

The remaining couple of days were spent checking out the malls (Mall of the Emirates, Ibn-e-Batuta Mall), checking out the Souks, local dining, being mesmerized by the supercars, the road discipline, unending shisha sessions at different cafes and rounding off the trip by spending a night at the highest point in all of UAE i.e Jabal Jais. Bonfire, barbecue, chilly weather and a close knit of friends. LIT AF!

Dubai is a dream. Given the fact that this place was a desert, it has now transformed into a bustling hub. Tall structures with mind-numbing architecture, palaces, amusement parks, supercars and so much more! Thanks to the lavishness, it is true that if you think money can’t buy happiness, Habibi go to Dubai!

I would like to give a massive shoutout to Dheeraj, Naghma and Salman, who made us feel at home and made sure that we had a trip to remember for all the right reasons. Lifelines, for a reason.

Dubai 2016, you were worth it!

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