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Old January 12th, 2013, 06:59 PM   #1
King of Construction
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Dubai and Abu Dhabi New Year's trip

Hello, and welcome to my trip report of Dubai!

I have always been a huge fan of Dubai, like you can see in my signature .
When I graduated from highschool my parents promised me a trip to Dubai, but instead we went to the United States and saw many cities like New York, Washington, Boston, Toronto, San Fransisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles (not bad either ).
Now some years later, my dream of going to Dubai has finally come true.
We also made sure to go around New Year, so we could see the Burj Khalifa fireworks.

On the 30th of December we left in the late evening from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. Flying at night we could see the sun come up in the morning:



From the plane we had some nice views of the city:



My first view of the Burj Khalifa, the #1 reason to visit Dubai as I am a huge skyscraperfan:



When we landed we had some great views of the Emirates Terminal with alot of Airbus A380's:



We stayed at the York International Hotel a decent hotel but with a reputation. However upon arrival we were upgraded from Standard to Executive rooms for free. It's situated in the Dubai Creek area close to the Gold Souk, and also just 50 meters away from the Al Fahidi metro station:



After having catched up some sleep we missed in the airplane, the view from the balcony looked like this at night, a busy interchange:



It was already the 31st, so we had to go to the BK.
We decided to walk to it, and go back with the metro (something not possible we later found out). Soon we came at Sheikh Zayed Road, a skyscraper paradise road.
Emirates Towers is three towers? Always thought it were just 2...:



Some of the SZR giants:



It was quite hard to get to BK as a pedestrian.
I have to say, if Dubai should develop one thing better is pedestrian walks, on many places there isn't even a road for pedestrians. And also at zebra-crossings drivers never stop, so you just have to be lucky you have a little time to pass. We found a good spot from a elevated highway, which was closed for traffic because of NYE. From here you could see traffic was getting quite heavy:



After some time drivers gave up, and just stepped out of their cars to see the fireworks display. It was really getting crowded now:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 07:03 PM   #2
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Then it became 2013 and the pyrotechnics came into action.
I filmed the whole thing and made some photo's. Others have made much better photos and videos of it, so I'll only post one picture to show from which angle I was watching:



The fireworks were of course beautiful and we tried to get closer to the BK, but that was really impossible. All the roads were closed and even getting to a metro station was impossible. This is as close as I came that night:



We decided to walk back to the hotel passing all the metro stations, and than getting on the train at the first station that didn't look like you would have to wait 5 hours before getting on.

Nice see through of the Dusan Thani building:



Long way ahead, seeing the metro line on the right:



Not a single metro station didn't look very crowded, so we had to walk all the way back. I think in total we walked 25km's that night.

1 January 2013
First thing on my list was to see Dubai Marina, so after having bought NOL cards (which are upgradeable) we could take the train to there.
These cards work really nice and also travelling by metro is quite cheap.

We arrived at Dubai Marina when sun was already setting:



Couldn't get all the high towers in one pick so made another one:



There is a boulevard next to the Marina called "The Walk", this is a real nice place with lots of restaurants and shisha bars.
If I would ever move to Dubai, I would of course want to live in a skyscraper.
If I had to chose I would definitely go for Dubai Marina, and not for SZR. Dubai Marina is a lot more cozy and has an intimate feel to it:



Looking down to the other side of the harbour, with the "not-so-high-buildings", which would all still make it in the top 10 of highest buildings in my country .



The really high part of the Dubai Marina, with towers like Princess Tower, 101 Marina and Ocean Heights in it, didn't have such a nice look at ground level. Of course I had to walk there. It was quiet here, you wouldn't think so with all these people living here:



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Old January 12th, 2013, 07:18 PM   #3
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Of course made alot of pictures of every tower here, but those are for other threads.
Tried the zoom function of my new camera, and it was quite good. Zoom in on 23 Marina:



At night the Walk really looked nice:



Than we took the train to the Dubai Mall, which is the biggest mall in the world. Doesn't surprise me with it's huge atriums and connecting parts between those.



We went outside to see the Dubai Fountain, had a nice show, but a few days later we would go again, and that show was a lot better.
Was very crowded here, so hard to take good pics:



Back inside the Old Souk really had a nice touch to it:



Dubai Marina's "the Waterfall":



Biggest single aquarium wall in the world, also in Dubai Marina:



We had dinner at the food court, overlooking the Ice Rink in the Marina.
Then we went back home.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 07:42 PM   #4
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Marina walk looks splendid but those side streets Horrible really. I can't understand why people living there don't complain about such bad looking streets.

And indeed despite the density, what a dead place. But that's pretty much due to there is nothing in the base of the towers but parking....no shops, nothing. It creates dead streets. In Brussels they made such mistake 50 years ago with the Brussels North District. It is still a dead place today with no pedestrians, only cars and buildings. That Dubai had to make such mistakes 50 years later is just stupid. At least they could have learned why setups like these weren't working in other parts of the world.

Each tower has enough inhabitants to keep shops in the base of the tower up, running and profitable. Cheap urban planning. That's what it really is.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:07 PM   #5
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2 January 2013

Next day we went with the hop on hop off bus. It's a good concept with doubledecker busses riding through the city and stopping at multiple points. You can get off at points you like and than get on the next bus, it also includes an audio-tour.

Sheikh Zayed Road from a different angle:



The cars people drive in the UAE are very different than those in my country, and most of Europe.
Gas prices are just at around 1.75 dirham per liter (€0.35). This explains why you see so many big SUV's which consume alot. This photo was characteristic:



An obligatory picture of the Burj Al Arab, which comes with every Dubai trip:



Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Hotel and Downtown Dubai in one picture, taken from Palm Jumeirah. To bad of the street lantern:



This picture doesn't show it, but the Dubai Marina (with Burj Al Arab in it's vicinity) and Downtown Dubai are far away from each other. I wonder why this is?
Maybe some Dubai residents know the answer to this? With the metro it doesn't matter alot but it's still strange that when they planned a new area they decided to make it so far away from the rest of Dubai.

Atlantis Hotel from another angle, not with the opening in it:



We got off here, and it was a nice developed area. You wouldn't say less than a decade ago all you would see here was sea.
Getting back on there was no place on the open second level of the bus. This picture would have been nicer on the top level, but still shows Dubai Marina from a nice angle:



We went past the Dubai Mall from a different side, where all the cars come in. This is the main entrance:



HHHR Tower, for some reason I really like this one:



Fairmont Hotel, fancy design, and also great elevators with nice views inside:



Next stop we got off was at Wafi Mall, yet another huge mall. Dubai seems to be full of those.
This one had an Egyptian theme, with alot of pyramids etc.



Inside it was still Christmas, strange for me as an North-European.
I connect Christmas to coldness, winter and snow, seeing Christmas in Dubai is quite strange:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:26 PM   #6
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A great stained glass pyramid in Wafi Mall:



Outside the Mall there was a residential building, also in pyramid-style with an Egyptian obelisk infront:



Dubai and the United Arab Emirates all together is very fond of it's leaders, the Sheikhs.
You can see portraits of men like Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (namegiver to the Burj Dubai)
everywhere, in about every restaurant and hotel, in most homes and on cars:



on buildings like these, the Deira Twin Towers, where some days later we would have dinner:



We passed the Creek now, and on the boulevard preparations were being made for the Dubai Shopping Festival.
There were alot of country-themed places. Like the USA place where they were making Austrian's Felix Baumgartner's capsule
from which he made the highest parachute jump ever.



We went underneath the Creek and came into Deira. Here alot of the poorer people live but it really feels like a natural city,
not like some other parts which feel artificial (like Downtown Dubai).
Some older people feeding the pigeons, with the shops in the background you see everywhere in these parts of the city:



Shisha bar on the other side on the banks of the Creek:



Alot of old ships are docked here, which shows Dubai has a long history as being an important port.
These ships sail between Dubai and countries like Iran and Jemen:



These ships lay side-to-side, many times 4 rows into the water, I wonder if you're the ship closest to the shore how you can get away:



Construction with buses waiting for builders to take them home:



Dubai is under construction:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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3 January 2013

Next day we went to the Creek by foot. Between Al Fahidi street and the Creek there was an old city, which was in very good shape.
They either renovated it very well or it's just build in old style. There are some small museums here and also a mosque:



Part of old city wall, protected by this roof:



The mosque behind the tree and one of the many windtowers in Dubai:



We went to the Dubai Museum. It's in and under the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai.
Below ground most of the museum is situated, nice in the summer, it's never really warm in there.

Now we had seen most of the area close to the hotel, we decided to take the metro again.

The metro in Dubai is probably the best I've ever seen in the world. It has automated trains, no machinists driving it.
There is also a lot of police (who look military, maybe they are?), who manage the crowds.
They have alot of authority, much more than in the Netherlands at least.
No one dares to argue with them, which in some cases is much better.
The stations in the Old City/Deira are underground, the rest is above ground and look like this:



Inside everything is very clean and looks almost like from a futuristic movie:



This is the platform, which has about 15 to 20 doors into the train. There is a special door for gold members and one for women and children.



Hard to get used to the idea women having separate rooms, but of course this is common in the Arabian world.
One day we also had a barbeque, and women had to get in special lines. In Europe, this is unthinkable.

We got out at Business Bay.
Business Bay is really an area under development, this is how the whole of Dubai must have looked like between 2006 and 2009 roughly.
It has a lot of futuristic buildings:



Emirates Park Towers:



They were laying new sidewalks infront of us as we walked almost literally.
We tried to get to the Ubora towers, which I really wanted to see from close by, but without a car, it was nearly impossible to get there.
We started walking towards the Burj Khalifa, and there was a boulevard there, very new, with some shops which still had to open.
There were good views of the BK from here:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 08:57 PM   #8
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I agree with what u said about Dubai Marina. It's nice to look from above and far.. but at ground level ( between apartment blocks ) it looks bad. I visited a friend's house there and was shocked to find poor third-world ish quality of streets between some of the tallest residential blocks in the World !

But overall Dubai is great global city I enjoyed it alot. Love the vibrant life in Dubai
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Old January 12th, 2013, 09:42 PM   #9
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They recently opened the Dubai Link, it's convenient if you need to get from the Metro Station to Dubai Mall or BK, but it's a really boring long walk. We walked beneath it this day and saw alot of nice restaurants there. Also some that still had to open.
I fear for their future, because all the potential customers walk passed above:



Aston Martin dealership right underneath the Burj Khalifa, wonder how much they pay to have a store there:



View from Dubai Mall on Sheikh Zayed Road:



Just some cars standing infront of Bloomingdale's:



Like I showed before the Dubaians really love their ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum,
I don't know what the occasion was here:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 09:48 PM   #10
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4 January 2013

Next day we went on a Desert Safari late in the afternoon. I don't have to tell you most of the UAE is desert. There are some fairly high sanddunes, but where we went the desert wasn't as spectacular as on other places. There were alot of roads here with quite some traffic. Before going to the UAE I thought outside Dubai and Abu Dhabi there wouldn't be much life at all, and the only big road was between those two cities. But there are more highways which carry quite some traffic.
Start of the desert tour:



We were first driven there by a man, and than when we really went into the desert another "Emirati-looking" driver took over. He raced over the dunes until we came at an settlement. It was very touristic, with many many jeeps dropping tourists off:



There was a bbq, shisha tent and also a podium on which some dancers performed:



Once again the night had fallen and tomorrow we would go to Abu Dhabi.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 10:16 PM   #11
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Incredible I did exactly the same travel at the same time and visited he same places. Even the desert tour, at the same place, same day!!! We may have seen each other!
Anyway, nice pics, nice comments, and I agree with you! Dubai is a vibrant city. It is REALLY a world class city!
PS: desert tours drivers are not Emiratis, they are mostly Iranians or from South Pakistan (but they may look like Arabs). They just drive crazy.
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Old January 12th, 2013, 10:22 PM   #12
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5 January

When we were at the meeting point, where we would be picked up by bus, I realized I had forgotten my camera

Luckily I had taken my mobile phone with me, but this makes bad photo's and it's also bad in dark or if there's to much sunlight.

I tried to make pictures as good as possible.

We first passed Yas Marina Island, it's quite far away from the city. We didn't really go close, because it would have taken to much time.
Abu Dhabi consists of multiple island. This bridge connects the main island with the land:



We first arrived at the mosque, one of the few mosques you can enter as non-muslim:



I think this is the same for mosques as Sagrada Familia is for churches.



The main courtyard, which is aircondioned in the summer:



Beautiful entrance:



A decorative chandelier in the prayer hall:



Overview of the whole complex



At the mosque we got on a hop on hop off bus again, from the same company that operates in Dubai.

Alot of construction going on outside the city center, if I had my camera with me I would have posted some pictures.
But the zoomed-in pictures taken by my mobile phone are really to bad to show here.

We got out at the Corniche, this is a road alongside the Gulf, it has a great great boulevard.
The green here has a much more natural touch than Dubai. It's both planted and carefully planned, but for some reason in Abu Dhabi
it looked better.



There was a wide stroke of land between the sea and the city (roads and buildings).
This area was very nice:



When we walked in the city I came across I funny little street, it had high buildings on all sides, but in the middle there was a sort of mausoleum and a
very decayed old building:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 10:35 PM   #13
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We came past the Central Market building and some other buildings under construction.
Would have blended in Dubai real nicely. Once again, the pictures I took of these aren't worth posting here.
We came across another nice park:



We drived pass the highest flagpole in the UAE and than came at another mall.
It had the Sky Tower at the back end:



The base of the tower is in a lake inside the mall and goes up through the tent:



3 of the 5 Etihad Towers, they have some of the best cladding I've ever seen:



Across the street from these towers is the Emirates Palace, the most expensive hotel ever build.
This is the entrance to it, which is only opened for kings and queens and such:



Even the street lanterns look "royal" here:



This is a funny tradition in the UAE. Many women here don't have driving license. So when the need to go the groceries,
they take a cab which takes them to in this case the Carrefour. There employees put their buyings in the car.
That's why in front of many supermarkets it's full of cabs:

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Old January 12th, 2013, 10:56 PM   #14
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6 January

The last day we didn't really have anything planned, but still saw some nice things.

They put a huge flag on top of Burj Khalifa!:



Oh, no it's just a model...:



In the night we went to the Gold Souk, which really comes alive at night and has a very vibrant atmosphere:



A lot of neon advertisements in the Gold Souk neighbourhood:



We went to the other side of the Creek, to the Deira Twin Towers.
In here there is yet another mall, with on the 3rd floor a restaurant with great views.
We saw another fireworks display, in celebration of the Dubai Shopping Festival.

From here you could see the dhows which are wonderfully lighted at night:



More Dhows, with Burj Khalifa in the background:



This was our last night in Dubai and the next day we had to get up very early to take the plane back to the Netherlands.
We had a tankstop in Bourgas. Quite funny, in the summer I went here on vacation with temperatures of almost 40 degrees,
now the whole landscape was white.

I had a great time in Dubai and saw it's still under heavily construction.
I would recommend a trip here to anyone who is thinking about going there.
Some people compare it to Las Vegas. There are some similitaries but Dubai has much that LV doesn't have:
culture, good ideas, history and much more.

Hope you enjoyed and see you with my next trip report!
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Old January 12th, 2013, 11:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D K View Post
Incredible I did exactly the same travel at the same time and visited he same places. Even the desert tour, at the same place, same day!!! We may have seen each other!
Anyway, nice pics, nice comments, and I agree with you! Dubai is a vibrant city. It is REALLY a world class city!
PS: desert tours drivers are not Emiratis, they are mostly Iranians or from South Pakistan (but they may look like Arabs). They just drive crazy.
Haha that's indeed incredible. Are you going to make a trip report to?
And I know those drivers aren't real Emiratis but they try to look like them very hard!
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Old January 13th, 2013, 02:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Construction
Inside it was still Christmas, strange for me as an North-European.
I connect Christmas to coldness, winter and snow, seeing Christmas in Dubai is quite strange:
Nice pics... You should try Christmas in tropical Singapore. Especially along Orchard Road, all the typical Christmas decor in a modern metropolitan minus the winter.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 12:22 PM   #17
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Awesome, very nice photos from Dubai and Abu Dhabi
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Old January 13th, 2013, 02:55 PM   #18
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Great Dubai tour!


This view is pretty unusual, we mostly see Dubai skylines from afar but it reminds of Manhattan here!
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Old January 13th, 2013, 05:23 PM   #19
Toronto3
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I am soooo jelous. These pictures are great, wonderful job.
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Old January 13th, 2013, 09:54 PM   #20
italiano_pellicano
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great pics
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