Dubai, UAE
الْإِمَارَات الْعَرَبِيَة الْمُتَحِدَة

Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Mosque
The House of Maktoum or Āl Maktūm آل مكتوم is the ruling royal family of Dubai and one of the six ruling families of the UAE.

Penultimate sunset of the year, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE — December 30, 2022

Dubai logo


Zara & Brian, Bayz Tower, Dubai, UAE — December 31, 2022


Museum of the Future, Dubai, UAE — January 14, 2023


New Year’s Eve at Burj Khalifa, UAE — January 1, 2023


Relaxing on the Corniche, Business Bay, Dubai, UAE — December 31, 2022


Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai, UAE — January 12, 2023


Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE — January 14, 2023


Burj al Arab, Dubai, UAE — January 13, 2023


flydubai flight 56 on Boeing 737-800 A6-FG arriving to DXB Dubai, UAE — January 11, 2023


Sunset over Business Bay, Dubai, UAE — December 31, 2022


J One Towers, Business Bay, Dubai, UAE — January 13, 2023


J One Towers, Busies Bay, Dubai, UAE — January 13, 2023


Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE — December 30, 2022


New Year’s Eve at Burj Khalifa, UAE — January 1, 2023


Museum of the Future, Dubai, UAE — January 14, 2023

Biking around Business Bay, Dubai, UAE — January 1, 2023


New Year’s Eve at Burj Khalifa, UAE — January 1, 2023


Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE — January 14, 2023


Sunset over Business Bay, Dubai, UAE — December 31, 2022

Business Bay 180° view from the 27th floor of the Danuabe Bayz Tower, Dubai, UAE — January 5, 2023

Bike ride around Al Wasl neighborhood, Dubai, UAE — January 14, 2023

Water fountain at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE — December 30, 2022

UAE 2022 Journal

Friday, Dec 30 — Dubai

I land in Sharjah International Airport and when I get off the plane, I have to ask if I have landed in India, as 95% of the folks do look like they are of the South Asian decent. Upon closer look, I realize many could be from Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. But it is nice to be around a bunch of folks from such a colorful and vibrant culture and it brings back fond memories of my time in India. After some back and forth, I realize Uber does indeed service Sharjah, but I just have to figure out if I am going to be picked up in the Arrivals, as one chap said, or the Departures, as several others confirmed. Luckily the walk between the two sections of the airport is not too far, with Sharjah airport being quite tiny. (I compare it to Burbank airport in Southern California.) Eventually I learn that Ubers go to neither place, but in fact pick up in the parking lot beyond the Arrivals terminal. There is nice shade spot to wait while the driver approaches.

I make it to the Citymax Hotel Business Bay, and check into room 801. The view is of the side area and the busy freeway behind. There is a wonderful pool in the adjacent building, a massive, glimmering pool, and I make a note to try and access it at one point. Sadly, the pool is right next to the busy freeway, so no matter how much tranquility one tries to find in such a beautiful pool, the vibe will always be drowned out by the constant buzz and hiss and occasional high rev sounds from the traffic.

Zara and I have a nice hello, and we get ready and head to the Jumeirah Palm for dinner at a nice at Al Safadi Restaurant The Pointe مطعم الصفدي Lebanese restaurant called . At one point, jet lag hits hard, but I fight it an carry on.

I can’t help to notice the cleaver Dubai branding on license plates on tourist adverts; it is simply the word Dubai, cleverly written with a combination of Arabic and English characters:

Dubai logo

Saturday, Dec 31 — Dubai

Breakfast at Mist Restaurant on the Corniche. We ordered shakshouka, lentil soup, black tea and orange juice. Our waitress was from Kampala, Uganda and was quite pleasant to chat with her about Africa.

For New Year’s eve, we head over to Nargus and Ehsan’s place and have a dinner of aush reshteh, chicken, tahdig rice and saffron rice with tart barberries. We watch the view of Dubai and the Burj Khalifa fireworks on 27th-floor balcony of the Danube Bayz Tower; the views, company and festivities are superb.

Sunday, Jan 1 — Dubai

Breakfast at Andar Cafe. We take a Careem bike ride from Business Bay to Jumeirah Beach. It is wonderful.

Monday, Jan 2 — Dubai

We check out of our room 801 at the Citymax Hotel Business Bay, but check again to a different room, this time to room 1110, a left-side corner room facing the Burj Khalifa. It is a bit less noisy, but there is still a construction site where working start pounding stones at 6:30am every morning. Still, in the evening, the views are nice, and the window opens slightly. The view is of the Empower station, which looks quite industrial with its 8 massive chimneys and 2 massive cylinder containers. I make a note to walk over and investigate further.

Tuesday, Jan 3 — Dubai

I Uber to the Dubai Frame, which I must admit is quite impressive. But so do hundreds of other tourists, so the queue is quite long and my patience much shorter. There is a park adjacent, named Zabeel Park, so I buy an entrance and walk to the back side of the frame (which looks exactly like the front side, minus the throngs of excited people, and have the Frame all to myself. For some reason, I do a series of jumping photos, and it takes me about 50 shots to get a pic I am somewhat happy about.

Eventually I move on and head over a pedestrian walkway and through the Al Karama neighborhood. At one intersection I find the intriguing Hot Fish Hot Fish Karama cafe (@73 6C) St with a nice outdoor terrace in the shade. I debate for a moment and convince myself to take a look. You order inside and there are trays of various fish marinating in various tandoori sauces. Everything looks good. I point to a delicious fried fish dish someone is eating outside, what turns out to be the Hamour Fry, and order the same. I am also given a small meal set which includes basmati rice, a yellow curry dipping sauce, some orange/tan soup, and a roti. About 10 minutes later I am feasting on the most amazing spicy, tasty, freshly fried fish. All this for AED 51!

After lunch, I stroll through Al Hamriya, and then westward into Al Souk Al Kabir. I continue into the Al Fahidi historical area, walking along the Dubai Creek shore along several cafés with touts at each one asking me to eat. I find the Grand Souq - Bur Dubai, and shop around for spices and other bronzewares. I hop on the boat from Bur Dubai to Deira Old Souk and pay 1 dirham for passage.

In Deira, I continue through the maze of shops, finding the Perfume Souk and then the gold souk, which has received a nice face lift since the last tie I was there (like much of Dubai.) At one point, I find Al Nassma, selling their newly-famous camel milk chocolates. Of course I have to try and buy some. Eventually I poop out and call an Uber. At this point, I turn off my Strava, and the walk in total is around 10 miles.

In the evening, Zara and I decide to try some Yemeni food, so we head over to Madfoon Al Sadda - Jumeira, and dive deep in. We are seated in a private family booth, and order a Supreme Mix (with butterflied chicken and shrimp over rice), some type of stew, a Jarjir Salad (greens, pomegranate and onion), and a leben ayran (like doogh) to top it off. The bread they give us is fresh, hot and crisp. After dinner, we head over to Kite Beach, meet up with Nargus and Ehsan, and check out the evening scene, complete with food trucks (some local, like Oakberry Açaí Bowl, and some corporate, like Fridays and Krispy Kreme). Pretty cool.

Wednesday, Jan 4 — Dubai

We have a breakfast at the hotel and head over to Alserkal Avenue السركال افنيو - القوز - دبي, a well-known hub of the contemporary arts scene boasting an evolving collection of galleries. We find the Lawrie Shabibi art gallery and check out an exhibit by Shaikha Al Mazrou, who Zara studied with previously. The colorful metal art on display invites the imagination to think of it as soft material; everyone wants to touch it. There is also a room with Escher-esque art; really nifty! After the gallery, we find a car gallery, with many restored vintages, including old Mercedes, BMWs, Volvos and even an old, pristine Datsun.

We then Uber to Al Fahidi, known for its Historical neighborhood, with traditional buildings like 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort. We meet up with Dr. Jassim Al Awadhi, a previous instructor of Zara’s, and check out his marvelous art gallery and the beautiful art within. The gallery is part of the historic building, and the modern art contrasts beautifully with the traditional architecture.

We find a karak chai stand and happily consume the spiced milk tea and caffeine. We grab an Uber and head back to our hotel, and take a nice afternoon walk along the Business Bay Corniche. The views of all the tall and sometimes quirky buildings is sensational. The weather is great too. For dinner, we hit up the Anbar Cafe.

Thursday, Jan 5 — Dubai

Today I take an Uber out to the Umm al Quwain museum. I then walk around the dusty village and meet several Pakistani and Afghan folks. I hail a taxi on the side of the road to Ajman, where I grab lunch in a local Emirati restaurant, where I order harees, a dish of boiled, cracked, or coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat and seasonings. I also have freshly made flat bread with slight cheese and honey. I then head to the Ajman museum where I visit for around an hour. The exhibits are in rooms around the fort, and seem a bit hidden. But are great

Friday, Jan 6 — Dubai

A chill day. Research in the morning; visit to Dubai mall in the afternoon with a visit to the Address Hotel and a walk around the fountain to the Palace Hotel. I had Arabic/Saudi coffee in both places and tried out some parfume shops for leather and oud tobacco. No bikes left at the Carreem bike stands, so we just chill around.

Saturday, Jan 7 — Dubai

We head over to the local Al Khawaneej neighborhood, to the pleasant One Coffee House where we meet Zara’s friend, Alia, an Emirati with a job in the arts. We have a nice coffee. It begins to rain quite fully. We drive to a take out place and order several paratha with cheese. I grab an Uber from the corner Emarat gas station and head to Sharjah, where I begin my tour at the Blue Souk. It is still raining heavily, and the Blue Souk has many spots where the rain in dripping inside. I head over to the Souq Al Jubail, a modern souk with stall after stall and row after row of fresh produce, seafood and meat. There are some cafeterias in the back and on the first floor, Al Jubail 1441, a nice seafood restaurant where I have a fish. The also give me an excellent olive tapenade, and at this exact moment, I realized I need to learn this recipe and serve it to all my family and friends at every future gathering! The vies across the harbor are great, and there are some massive palatial government buildings, with a mega yacht parked in front of one. After lunch, the rain stops, and I head over to the Sharjay Fort, which is closed from the rain. I then head to the Sharjay Heritage Museum, also closed. I wander through a maze of shops and puddles to the Corniche and take a wander along the water. I think of Zara and know that she must have wandered down this same Corniche, many times, a decade ago. I head back across the street, where the modern art museum is closed. I find another souk of shops and shop around a bit. I try some saffron oil, some leather, and some tobacco oud parfumes. I wander into a shop where some Yemenis are selling daggers and Arabian coffee pots. I want to by several items here, but resist. I walk of to the The Chedi Al Bait hotel, and am memorized by the beautiful courtyards and ambiance. I make a note to stay here at some point in the future. I hail a taxi and head back to Business Bay, Dubai.

Sunday, Jan 8 — Fly to Kuwait

We check out of room 1110 at the Citymax Business Bay hotel and walk over the Bayz Tower and take the freight elevator up to the 27th floor. We have a nice ghormeh sabzi lunch made by Nargus, and then we take a swim.

Wednesday, Jan 11 — Dubai

We arrive back to Dubai, view DXB airport. We taxi over to the Hyde Hotel Dubai with a Ugandan taxi driver. The hotel lobby smells wonderful. We check into room 1211. The door to the room is in a sleek, dark brown wood pattern. The room has a wonderful terrace with a full view of the Burj Khalifa and southern view along the Dubai Creek to the high rises in the distance along Sheik Zayed road. The view is stunning and I am so happy we shelled out for this room!

Thursday, Jan 12 — Dubai

We have a nice breakfast at the hotel. After some research in the room, I grab a Careem bike, via the Careem bike app ride, and head south along Safa Park. I take an elevator up and bike over Tolerance Bridge and down the spiral on the other side and into down to Al Wasl villa neighborhood. In this area, it is mostly Emirati living in villas on land that is given to them upon marriage by the government. I change bikes at the Canadian University of Dubai. There is nice outdoor mall there called City Walk. I make a note to check it later. From there I bike to La Mer, which is a nice beach-side area of outdoor game booths for kids and cafe pavilions. Much of the area is still under construction or not yet rented. It will be very nice here in a year. I continue on to Jumeira Mosque and take some nice photos. The mosque is only open to the public twice a day, earlier, so I wander around and continue on to the Etihad Museum. The museum looks closed, but I still try, and in fact it is open. I spend an hour walking around looking at the historic items from the creation of the UAE including a visit to the round building and room where the papers were signed to form the UAE> Sheik Zayed road. From the museum, I bike passed the harbor and a compound where all the workers stay. There is a small restaurant serving South Asia food; it looks very good and I would eat there if I didn’t have the bike. I keep pedaling until I end up in the Al Fahid neighborhood, where I dock my bike and wander around the

Friday, Jan 13 — Dubai


Saturday, Jan 14 — Dubai


Sunday, Jan 15 — Dubai

Dinner on the Palm

Monday, Jan 16 — Dubai

One last breakie on the terrace, and we sadly check out of the Hyde Hotel. Our driver whizzes us off to Abu Dhabi, to Ansam on Yas Island. We are staying with Zara’s school friend, Alia. We arrive to building 2-A; it’s a lovely spot. We drop our bags and head out to Louvre Abu Dhabi. The weather is perfect, the grounds spectacular, but to our dismay, as we approach the entrance to the museum interior, a security guard stops us and informs us, “Museum closed.”

“South Koreans?” I question.

The guard nods, “Yes.”

Zara turns to me in surprise, “How did you know?” Even the security guard is curious about where I received my intel.

My response is simple, “I read in last night’s Khaleej Times the Koreans were in town.”

We meander around the grounds a bit longer, stopping at spot where the sea water is allowed to enter the museum area. The combination of future architecture with traditional Arabian designs is well done, and I make a note to return when the museum is open. We hail an Uber and head to our next destination, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

At the mosque entrance, Zara is forced to buy modest clothes, and we regrettably fork over 50 dirham for about 2 dirham worth of fabric. Once the annoyance subsides, we take the long walk into the mosque. I have to say, no matter what one’s take on religious monuments, you”d have to be numb to not be impressed by the sheer size and scope of the building. The only difficult part, especially for Zara, is staying within the roped areas. “They used to let us everywhere, last time I was here. Now we are stuck here.”

Indeed, the massive carpet covering the floor over the mosque, in fact the alleged World’s Largest Rug (The 60,546-square-foot carpet took more than a thousand weavers over a year to complete) is now entirely off-limits for the common visitor. It makes sense to me, but I understand the nostalgia for persons who previously were allowed access.

After some time, we exit the grounds, and find another travel in the similar ‘modesty’ predicament we found Zara in before. Zara jumps on the opportunity, and offers her fabric to the traveler at a reduced price of 40 dirham, thus solving our problem, and the new visitor’s problem too. Now that I think of it, I wonder how many times this fabric has been hawked off before we got it!

We head downtown, on the advice of Alia, to the Al Hosn Festival, by chance running from January 13 - 22. The festival is in the square next to Qasr al-Hosn, which is an historical fort and apparently the oldest stone building in the city of Abu Dhabi. I am instantly memorized by all the locals in their traditional dress, as well as all the activities taking place. In one corner, next to the fort, the faithful are praying, at sunset. In another area, helpers are serving up traditional Emirati sweets and coffee. At one point, I enter the fort which commands a perfect view of the festivities below. In a nearby Bedouin tent, men are dancing back and forth while chanting. I spot Zara in the crowd. I find Zara and we enjoy another Arabic coffee with some dates. Zara snaps some pics of me. We then find a khanjar workshop where a man is creating the sheath design which will soon be embroidered with silver metal. The owner of the stall proudly displays his collection of finished silver khanjar.

“How much?” I ask.

“Not for sale,” he responds simply.

Fair enough, they do seem like museum pieces. We chat more and I learn this shop also does repairs. KhanyarI ask for his card, which says: Khanyar® - Mohammad Al Hashemi. We wander on and stumble upon several men making traditional Arabian ceremonial gowns, worn by sheiks and other notable persons. I try on an outfit and feel like a million bucks. On the wall is a collection of dallah or my beloved traditional Arabic coffee pot. I don’t bother to ask the price, as they may not even be for sale, and then again, how would I carry around a large coffee pot?

We continue on an find some women, in traditional clothes, burning oud and other aromatics in a mabkhara censer. They are both wearing a battoulah also called a gulf burqa. I find the courage and ask them to take a picture, to which they accept. It becomes one of my favorite photos. I want to chat with them a bit, but we don’t seem to speak the same language, so instead we enjoy the gorgeous smell of the burning oud.

Alia, Zara and I leave the festival and drive to the InterContinental, where we meet up with Rashid, and sit down at the Belgian Café, where we order rounds of beer. What a day!

Tuesday, Jan 17 — Abu Dhabi

Last day in UAE. I have a swim in the morning and take a taxi to AUH Abu Dhabi International Airport. I board Qatar Airways flight QR 1051, and at 17:35, our Airbus A320-200 (A7-LAE) takes off toward Doha, Qatar.