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Wow.  I’m feeling a bit of culture shock from my first visit to the Middle East, but am learning more about an important part of the world.

Arriving two hours late, our flight approached Dubai with the city skyscrapers rising out of the morning mist, almost like a futuristic mirage.

Approaching Dubai

We flew inland before turning around to land, giving us a good view of the desert dunes.

After a brief nap, Michael and I decided to head to the oldest part of Dubai, along the Dubai creek, where we visited the Dubai Museum to learn a bit more about the history and culture of this interesting city.

The Dubai Museum entrance

Michael spent a little too much time with the camels.

The museum is housed in an old fort.  In earlier times, pearls were an important trade here.  Oil wasn’t discovered until the mid 20th century, and was only exported starting in 1969.  Most of the development is within the past 20 years or so.

Houses were traditionally made of date palm fronds.  Summer homes were more loosely woven and used a wind tower to keep cool, which you can see in the next photos.  Wind towers are also seen on some of the older buildings in the market areas.

Traditional home made of date palm fronds, with wind tower

Traditional home interior

There are some traditional markets (souks) near the museum.  We walked through the textile market; then we crossed the river in a small river taxi called an abra to see some of the other markets.  Some sellers were quite aggressive, something we are not quite used to.  One seller threw a shawl over my shoulder and wouldn’t take no for an answer until I had to throw the shawl at him.

Taking the abra (river taxi) on Dubai Creek

walking through a souk

On Sunday, Michael had to work (the workweek is Sunday to Thursday here).  After a late breakfast, I took the Metro to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.  You have to make reservations a couple of days in advance to go to the observation deck, so Michael and I will try to do this on Friday.

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

I spent some time walking around the nearby Dubai Mall, which has all the major stores at home, in London and in Paris, and then some more.  But this mall also has an impressive aquarium

The aquarium at Dubai Mall

waterfall

The Dubai Mall waterfall, with sculptures of divers

and an ATM machine to buy gold.

The Gold ATM

I also saw the non-3D version of the movie, The Adventures of Tintin, which added a bit to the spirit of being in London and the Middle East.  The new Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol movie, which comes out at the end of December, takes place in Dubai.  You can see some of the city in this movie preview clip:

 

For dinner yesterday, we ate near the Dubai Mall, so we were able to witness the famous Dubai Fountain, which shoots water high into the air, moving around and coordinated to various types of music.  We’re hoping to take some video if we get back to the area on Friday.

After all of this, all I can say is, “Wow!”

This morning, we arrived in Abu Dhabi, driving through the desert.  Michael went to the office in downtown Abu Dhabi, and I was dropped off at our hotel on Yas Island, a bit of a distance outside the city.  I’m not sure what’s nearby, so I’ll have to explore a bit.

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