Categories: "United Arab Emirates" or "Dubai" or "Ras al Khaimah"

Dubai 2012-13

June 23rd, 2013

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We are heading home again for the summer after another lovely year spent in the 'Gulf'. This post is a retrospective look at the year. Perhaps I should do more than one for an entire year, but hey, here we are!

Another day at the beach

Dubai designates specific beaches for different activities. If you want to go surfing (when there actually is a surf), you need to go to one beach. If you want to wind-surf, then you go to another beach.

Our favourite beach is Sufouh Beach, which is about a 10 minute drive from our villa. This beach is for families and no activities are permitted that may cause harm to others (like a surf board in the head). They also ban 'bachelors' - a euphemism for the armies of labourers that comprise a significant portion of Dubai's population - they may or may not be bachelors, but certainly their wives are not resident in Dubai.

Dubai Media City and the Marina loom in the distance and the trunk of Palm Jumeirah is to the right.

We tend to go in the morning and have breakfast on the beach. However, we will sometimes switch it up and head down for the sunset.

The beach is much less crowded in the evening

Iconic architecture abounds. The Burj al Arab sits just a couple KMs from the beach and if the air was clearer, you would be able to see the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building off in the distance.

Burj al Arab - 7 star landmark

When not at the beach, we love to sit in our garden, often after returning from the beach, have a glass of something light and read in front of the fire. We have been known to play a game or two of backgammon as well.

The fire is mainly for ambiance, although in the middle of winter we sometimes huddle around it for warmth.

Not nearly often enough, we invite some of our awesome friends over for a shisha and a cold one.

Jo & Tiina and Phonda & John

With all of these tourist attractions, which I assure you attract millions of tourists every year, we are fortunate to be able to act like tourists ourselves and go out with friends to enjoy some of the finer treats Dubai has to offer.

Burj Khalifa in the early evening - surrounded by hotels and restaurants

All of these wonderful experiences are made so much better by sharing them with great friends.

Rhonda and John

Rhonda and John live close by on the 17th floor of one of the many apartment blocks that shape the Dubai skyline.

The view from Rhonda and John's balcony

While my studies have put a major dent in our outdoor activities, we still manage to get out of the city and do some exploring.

Hiking in RAK

My students come from some fairly remote areas in the UAE and so I sometimes go and drive around their communities just to see what they see everyday.

Near Madam - close to the Omani border

Some students drive more than an hour each way to come in from their desert homes

Desert highway from Madam to Sharjah

Once I get home from work everyday, I often spend time in the garden tending to our vegetable patch. This past year we ate salads and vegetables out of this garden alomost everyday from October to May, when the heat finally fried the last of the baby bok choi.

All organic! Fertilized with Bokashi

We used to foster abandoned cats before we adopted Bella and Donna. So, we have a soft spot for the many kitty cats that run around the streets here. This cat refused to leave our garden and so we fed her for a few weeks and then eventually found her a home.

'A.K.'  - Another kitty-cat

Speaking of cats, Bella and Donna continue to prosper. Donna will be 12 in September while Bella recently turned 9. Both have been shaved in preparation for their long summer home alone. It will be just them, the maid and the gardener for 6 weeks until Annette returns.

Donna on her favourite chair

Bella likes to distract me from my studies.

Visit - 2011

January 2nd, 2012

If you were to visit us this year, here are some of the things that we might make you do. First of all, we would drag you off to Business Bay where we would go to the top of the world's tallest building.

The Burj Khalifa

Once at the top, we would enjoy spectacular views over the city.

Looking north and over the Persian Gulf

We would then hang around until the evening when, along with thousands of other people, we would watch the nightly fountain show.

Join the crowd in front of the Dubai Mall

We would then most likely go north to Ras Al Khaimah, where we used to live, and visit the camel racetrack again (view our post on the races here).

Pacing the camels

If you were interested and inclined, we would give you some camel riding lessons.

Not as easy as it looks!

We would even visit the track to meet some of the local jockeys.

Robot jockey

Our next stop would be one of the awesome beaches...

The beach at the Jumeirah Beach Residences

... where we would eat dates, that of course were grown locally.

Dates growing at the Al Ain Oasis

We would then head for the mountains where I like to go hiking. On the way, we would see lots of flora and fauna including this plant...

Sodom's Apple - somehow, I am thinking of pillars of salt, but that is perhaps another story.

... these birds ...

Bee-eaters - we watch them eat dragon flies in season.

... and goats ...

Just a nice goat

... which would follow us up and up into the mountains.

Climbing up though a wadi and deserted village

Finally, we would take you to the world's third largest mosque, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

They offer wonderful tours in English where you can see the world's largest carpet, the world's largest chandelier and a prayer room for 40,000 people.