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Arabian Adventure

When my friend’s parents moved to Abu Dhabi, we saw it as a fantastic opportunity. Having never been to the United Arab Emirates, and what with it being so different to the Western world, we had a chance to experience the country with tour guides; my friend and her parents.

Our flight took us through Doha airport (one of the most ornate and beautiful airports I have ever seen) and when we touched down in Abu Dhabi airport the heat hit us with an alarming force. Wow, it was going to be hot!

And my ten days in the country were like nothing I have ever experienced. The heat (in October) was so hot that I couldn’t sit on the beach all day. We swam in the bath warm sea and reclined under parasols until the sun dropped and it cooled enough for us to come out from the shadows.

Abu Dhabi is a far stricter country than Dubai, so we followed customs and covered our shoulders and knees. It made the days hot, but we were careful to not offend any of the traditions that we knew little about. By day we swam and sunbathed on the Corniche, taking time out to visit some of the fantastic shopping centres, and by night we ate some delightful food in tiny little restaurants, or visited bars in the hotels like the Hilton.

One night we went as VIP guests to a party in the club Etoiles, which is nestled in the bottom of the Emirates Palace. It was a night to remember; I’ve never had such star treatment and I don’t think I ever will again. We were waited on hand and foot, with a man even breaking a neck to provide a light when my friend produced a cigarette from her bag.

The emirates palace is a truly magnificent place. We stopped at the cafe and had chocolate fondue coated in gold leaf, and cappuccinos with gold sprinkles on the top. Everything about the country exudes extravagance, and it was unreal.

The architecture in the mosques is simply divine too. The Arabs really pay attention to their buildings and nothing is drab or plain; the skyscrapers loom out like something in a designer film and the mosques are ornate and intricate, truly carved for the gods.

It’s a place that will go against any ideas that you have; everything is different to the westernised world and it’s a rich and heady blend of old and new. I was surprised to see Arab men in full attire, turbans and white robes carrying palm pilots and talking on their hands free kits. The shops; Prada, Gap, MAC… all have the names in English, repeated below in beautiful Arab cursive. It’s strange but at the same time, perfect.

If you are going don’t make the mistake a friend made and go without travel insurance. Even in the winter it is over thirty degrees at midnight making it really easy to get dehydration. I went with Swiftcover’s holiday insurance in the end because they just seemed to be the best and cheapest, but have a look around.. Maybe try the meerkats!

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About laurahartson

www.sandbetweentoes.wordpress.com Visiting the world one country at a time!!

10 responses »

  1. Sounds like you had a fantastic visit! The heat is like a wall hitting you though, isn’t it? I lived and worked for several months in Oman – and in the summer months, the heat was unbearable. I also really enjoy Arabic architecture – wonderfully ornate with intricate details. It can be a bit of a culture shock – with modern gadgets and traditional clothing being quite normal – you get used to it after a while 🙂

    Reply
  2. I haven’t got the chance to visit middle east countries. During my recent trip back to Malaysia on Etihad Airways, I had to get down to Abu Dhabi Airport and wait for two hours for transfer. As the transfer happened at night, I hardly felt the heat. The airport, in my opinion, is a little bit small by their standard.

    After looking at your photos, I might well be planning a longer transfer next time so that I can stay at Abu Dhabi for a few days!

    Reply
  3. It sounds you have great experience history! great article.

    Reply
  4. These photos are absolutely beautiful.

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  5. The photos are outstanding. I have classmates that still works in the Middle East but they don’t really talk about the beautiful parts of the place but on a 10 day visit, you made want to see the place atleast even once. Great post.

    Reply
  6. I enjoyed your post. It gives me a little peek into Abu Dhabi without being there. After being in Saudi Arabia, I am hoping to visit at least one or two other countries in the Middle East. everyone keeps suggesting Dubai. It sounds and looks like you had a really great time in Abu Dhabi. I know what you’re talking about when you mentioned the heat. One plus about Abu Dhabi is that you only have to cover your shoulders and knees. In Saudi Arabia, women have to wear a black abaya which covers from the neck down to the ankles OVER their clothes no matter how hot it gets. Thankfully, foreign women can opt not to wear the black scarf (which native women must wear whenever in public) or wear a different color scarf (if they must in particular situations or areas). The native women must also wear a black face covering (niqab).

    Your description of your desert sounds so good! I wish you had some pictures of it:-)

    Happy future travels!!!

    Reply
  7. You take these photo? So beautiful! Wonderful architechure!

    Reply

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