As the weather in Kuwait gets cooler, and the clouds float slowly across the sunny skies, I am becoming more fixated on outdoor activities here in Kuwait than ever before. For example, we have a rooftop garden that I have been frequenting a lot more. It’s wonderful for nighttime cookouts, too. I ride my bike to new parts of the city (with a helmet, of course!) during the DAYTIME now – not just the brisk hours of the morning when the temperature is lowest. I can’t wait to tell you more concerning the Kuwait seasons in my next post…
But for now, Dubai! Stories remain yet untold, and souls are still undesired. You need closure, I understand that. Today, I will bring you to the end of our idyllic stay in the city of the future.
Picking up where I left off, our day began with a trip to the beach. Doesn’t the above picture look just like Hawaii?! It’s so GREEN! Hard to believe that we’re in the desert. Sean and I went first to Jumiera beach, which is the most popular public beach. It cost a mere $1 per person to access the beach, and we were met with beautiful landscaped gardens, palm-tree lined beaches, white sand, picnic tables, and little shops selling sunscreen and umbrellas. I never wanted to leave!
I love this picture because it captures the essence of Dubai; sand in the background and flowers in the foreground. It was really beautiful. At the beach, there were hundreds of families picnicking, but it’s not like what you imagine back in the States. Here, to picnic means to gather your friends and twenty closest relatives, reserve a picnic table at the beach, set up tents, bring in catered food, and sit around for hours socializing, snacking, and enjoying the company of your loved ones. It’s really cool to see! (Except when I’m on my bicycle and I have to try hard not to hit the little kids scurrying across the path…)
There you have it, the Burj Al Arab. It seems to be the staple of Dubai (excluding the world’s tallest building). This photo was taken from the monorail we took out to The Palm. What is ‘The Palm’ you may ask? Well, it is the man-made islands that you probably heard of one time and said, “Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, let me give you a clearer idea of where the next few pictures are located by providing you a picture from the internet to clarify:
To quote Wikipedia, and explain what you’re looking at here:
“The Palm is in the shape of a palm tree, topped with a crescent, and has a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment centers. The Palm Islands are located off the coast of The United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf and will add 520 kilometers of beaches to the city of Dubai.
The Palm comprises approximately 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand. All materials will be quarried in the UAE. There will be over 100 luxury hotels, exclusive residential beach side villas and apartments, marinas, water theme parks, restaurants, shopping malls, sports facilities and health spas.”
We took the monorail out, which runs the length of The Palm in the picture above. It allowed us to get a birds-eye view of the entire thing, which is actually incredibly complicated to navigate. It’s huge! Here are the private communities on The Palm in the above picture. I wonder how much it costs to live on this thing…
Here is the world-famous hotel, Atlantis. It it at the zenith of the crescent in the picture of The Palm I posted above. It is an amazing hotel, incredibly opulent. I think I am going to save up and splurge next time I’m in Dubai, and spend just ONE night here! There are tropical fishtanks in every hotel room built into the wall…. You are met by endless coastline on either side of you… it is just incredibly surreal. I always say that this hotel looks like the “seamonkey kingdoms” we used to buy as kids…
Maybe only I ‘sea’ the resemblance. Ha. ha. ha.
Anyways, the hotel was absolutely amazing. I want to go back.
Here is the waterpark that’s on The Palm; it’s owned and operated by the Atlantis hotel. Notice how you can see ocean on either side of the waterpark in the background of the picture. There’s something strangely eco-sinful about that to me…
While we didn’t go to the waterpark or stay in the hotel, visiting The Palm was quite the experience. I’m glad we did. My sphere of understanding just got a wee bit larger.
Speaking of “wee bit”, now it’s time for the Irish Village! That’s right, we were recommended by at least two or three people from back in Kuwait to visit the Irish Village. We were skeptical at first, wondering why in the world would we want to go there when we’re in the diamond of the Middle East, but am I glad we did!
It really was set up IDENTICAL to an Irish town. Note the cobbled streets, facades, and pint’o’Killigans Irish Red!
Sean had a cider that he particularly enjoyed as well. The outdoor seating was really nice, and it was right next to a pond. ALSO, this place served PORK! That’s right, Sean got a ham sandwich and washed it down with cider!
For those of you who have no idea as to why I am obsessing over the fact that Sean ate pork, let me back up a little bit. Pork, in Islam, according to the Koran, is seen as dirty and ‘haram’ (forbidden). It is mega-illegal in Kuwait, along with alcohol. Even in Dubai, we couldn’t get pork in any other restaurant. This place got away with selling pork and alcohol because of two reasons, according to our waiter:
1. They are on the airport grounds, and are owned by the Duty Free company… which somehow makes them exempt from local law. I don’t get it.
2. It is co-owned by the Amir (president) of Dubai. I REALLY don’t get it.
But, hey, who cares if we don’t understand it? It makes for a good story.
The next morning, post-libations, we needed to walk off the excess weight from the night before. We went to the “Mall of the Emirates”, which is the OTHER famous mall in Dubai.
You guessed it, this is the place with the indoor ski hill! All of you Glacier National Park aficionados, note the “St. Moritz Cafe” sign and the Swiss lighting in this photograph. I feel like I should be sipping hot chocolate looking out over Swiftcurrent Lake!
The indoor ski hill in the mall was HUGE. I was going to go skiing there, but we had to catch our flight at 3pm and it would have been too short on time. Looks like we have to go back.
This is my favorite picture. There’s even a chairlift…
We then strolled past the arcade in Mall of the Emirates, and I posed on top the faux camel.
We were also rather amused by this simulation guy; he was having a lot of fun off-roading in his virtual world. Also rather appropriate for our ‘city of the future’ theme.
Well, there you have it. Dubai. Filled with world records, vices, natural and artificial beauty, and—for a short time—two cheeseheads who walked around with wide eyes and wider smiles.
I can’t believe I haven’t pitched a request to you guys yet. How many blogs have I posted and NOT asked you to come visit?! What have I been thinking. Well, now, come to Dubai! It’s a mere hour’s flight from Kuwait, and a ticket roundtrip from Kuwait-Dubai costs $75 on weekdays. You can stay at our apartment, explore the streets of Kuwait, and then high-tail it to the city of the future for a weekend of fun and record-making.
Stay tuned for next week, when I give an account of our nine-day vacation, “Eid Al Adha”. (Yes, you heard me right, nine-day vacation after our trip to Dubai. We ARE teaching over here, too, you know.) Because we had to go through all of the visa work in Dubai, our passports are now in process at the Ministry in Kuwait, and we can’t leave the country until we get them back. So our nine-day break has turned into a Kuwait ‘stay-cation’ with friends. Excitement is sure to ensue!