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Dubai Travel Guide

Posted in Dubai hookups on May 17th, 2011 by admin – Comments Off


This engaging museum is a must for visitors and their Dubai hookups, not only for its whimsi­cal dioramas but also because it vividly charts the rapid progress of Dubai. A couple of hours spent at the museum before exploring the rest of Dubai really helps put the speedy evolution of the city into perspective.

The museum is housed in the Al-Fahidi Fort, built c 1787 to de­fend Dubai Creek. After serving as both the residence of Dubai’s rul­ers and the seat of government, it became a museum in 1971. After entering the museum courtyard, you’ll see several small boats ane a barasti (palm-leaf) house, with traditional wind-tower ‘air condi­tioning’. The hall on the righ: houses displays featuring khanjars (curved daggers) and other tra­ditional weapons; the hall to th left of the courtyard has a video o~ traditional Emirati dances, a dis­play of musical instruments ane more weapons… you in the large display halls… The real treat, however, awaits are underground. After a multi­media presentation of the devel­opment of the city, there is a series of dioramas representing the pas: commercial life of Dubai as well as domestic life, desert life ane life on the sea.

The vivid scenes ­ complete with disconcertingly lifelike dummies – are augmented with hologram-like video projections’ and an atmospheric soundtrack. Pho tography isn’t allowed, but the desire of most visitors to be photo­graphed next to one of the histori­cal characters keeps the museum guards very busy!

After these vivid tableaux, the archaeological displays are bound to disappoint all but the most ded­icated fan of digs. Everyone else will head straight for the decent gift shop.


This small, densely concentrated neighbourhood of narrow lanes and wind-towered residences was once home to wealthy Persian traders, mainly from Bastak in southern Iran, lending the neighbourhood its name, Bastakia. These merchants, dealing mostly in pearls and textiles, settled in Dubai because of its tax- free trading and accessible creek.

Most of the houses here date back to the early I900s and the prosperous merchants constructed their homes from coral and lime- stone, a step up from the more modest building materials offered by the ubiquitous palm tree. This is one of the main reasons that the buildings in Bastakia have lasted – they were far more durable and more valuable than the traditional barasti hut made from palm fronds.

While there is some debate as to the origin of the wind-tower con­cept, there’s no doubting that tow­ers and courtyards were common features of Iranian coastal build­ings. The towers take the hot air upwards and out of the building and also pick up breezes and direct them downwards.

The Bastakia has now mostly been restored and the quarter is starting to develop a lovely arty feel. Courtyard buildings you can visit include , a wonderfully restored house that is a hotel, gallery and cafe, and the traditionally decorated Bastakiah ights res­taurant. As you wander through the narrow, peaceful lanes you can easily imagine the life of the merchant residents at the turn of the 20th century.

It would be difficult to find a more fitting a symbol of Dubai today tha:: the audacious and iconic Burj Al Arab (Arabian Tower). The world’: tallest dedicated hotel, the sail-shaped building tops out at an impres sive 321m and was the boldest and most ambitious of the mF­iad 1990s projects undertaken b:­Crown Prince Sheikh Moham­med. The ambitious Sheikh kne that a world-class city – which he was determined to make Dubai ­needed an iconic symbol like the Eiffel Tower.

The process of constructim: began on the world’s only ‘seven star’ (actually rated five-star lux­ury) hotel in 1994, with pillars 0: the offshore island plunging 40rr: into the seabed. It wasn’t unti: 1999 that the hotel opened i ­doors to its first awestruck gues ­who marvelled at the white wovec glass-fibre screen sail facade and then were bewildered by the ‘Ara­bian fantasy’ interior.

It’s as though the imagination that fuelled the design of the ex­traordinary exterior of the hotel had run out of puff after filling the dhow (traditional wooden boat sail, leaving the building’s beauty decidedly skin deep. The interior seeks to impress with its sheer extravagance, having left taste ex hausted at the door and, while everything that glitters here is gold, colours that match gold are only randomly in evidence. Perplexingly, the interio: designer has stated that there was no specific colour scheme – perhaps another world first for Dubai right there! As for the rooms, suffice it to say you half expect an Arabian Joan Collins to make an entrance via the internal staircase. The cost of construction of the hotel has never been made public, but it clearly was money well spent as Sheikh Mohammed could then happily tick off ‘iconic sym­bol’ on his formidable to-do list for Dubai.


The air of the atmospheric old alleys of the Spice Souq on the Deira We­terfront is heady with the aromas of spices, herbs, nuts, pulses, dried fruit;: and chillies. Sacks overflow with frankincense and oud (fragrant ground cardamom, cumin, paprika and saffron, cinnamon sticks ani cloves, as well as the local favour­ites, which are sumach and zaata­(thyme). Inside the shops, shelves are lined with orange- and rose­water; henna powders; incensi’ burners and charcoal and other products, both ancient ani modern, from pumice stones and traditional wooden tooth cleaners, to hair colours and cake mixes.
The souq’s wooden archways and wind towers are restored, but this market, established in the 1830s, would have an antique quality ifit weren-: for the odd shop selling plastic kitchenware and toys. Focus instead on thi’ spice sellers, taking time to stop and smell the bouquet of aromas.

By far the most popular buy, with dubai hookups and tourists alike, is frankincense. The best quality crystals come from the harvested gum resin of trees in the Dhofar area of Oman. Frankincense can be bought by weight although these days spice sellers prepack­age the crystals in kits that include a small clay or decorative incense burner and coal. Ask for a demonstration on how to prepare the incense. Emiratis burn incense on a daily basis, often passing it around afte:­meals, and at weddings and parties, so that the smoke perfumes guests clothes. Tiny boxes of saffron, rose-water and henna are also great buy~ and make exotic souvenirs.


Established in the 1830s, Dubai’s souqs have long had a reputation as the best in Arabia, and with good reason. Like the Deira Gold and Spice Souqs, Bur Dubai Souq is a bustling bazaar with great bargaining opportunities, interesting architecture and lots of atmosphere.

In reality the ‘souq’ encapsulates several shopping areas. The covered souq by the waterside, with its re­stored wind towers, houses small shops with Russian signage in their windows selling vibrant textiles, Arabian ‘antiques’ and collectables, sequinned slippers and curly-toed Aladdin shoes from Afghanistan and Pakistan; this souq also proffers tacky souvenirs, cheap T-shirts and clothes, and Indian sweet shops. Along with the alley between the Sikh Gurudaba and Hindu Shri Nathje Jayate temples (p25), which has shops selling religious paraphernalia, bindis, garlands of flowers and incense, this area is the most atmospheric.

Dubai Hotels

Posted in Dubai hookups on June 21st, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

Burj al Aratk

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

At night the multitude of buildings under construction in Dubai are just silhouettes in the darkness. Lit up, though, are the congregations of cranes. They look like weird skeletal Meccano birds, feeding on the frames they perch on top of. It is said that one-fifth of the world’s largest cranes are in Dubai, hoisting floors higher and higher as the city literally reaches for most elevated status. Structural expressionism is definitely the ascendant architectural style here.

Worldwide, its most famous example is Burj al Arab, in English and in truth an Arabian Tower, standing many heads and shoulders above its neighbors. When architect Tom Wills-Wright was asked to submit designs for what was to be a landmark building on the Dubai skyline, he and the creative team reviewed other iconic buildings ­the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids­around the world. All have an unusual shape, so it was clear that for this new one to really catch the eye and imagination, it must have a remarkable form. Burj al Arab launched in 1999, and people have been looking up to it ever since.

The high-impact, high-altitude atrium is central to the prestigious hotel s unique design. It takes up a third of the interior space; with a height of 597 feet (182 m) it could shelter the Statue of Liberty. Its architect cites this as one of his favorite places; he likes to see people standing and staring up, or looking down to the lobby far below, amazed

Burj al Arab viewed from the Jumeirah Madinat hotel

Naturally, interior designer Ms. Kuan Chew wanted to continue the “wow effect” of the building inside, and deliver the timeless and unusual concept requested. The interior was viewed as radical when the hotel opened, its dazzling decoration making it an exuberant partner to the attention­attracting facade.

Then, in that era of minimalism, eschewing decorativeness, it would have been a surprise, a shock even, to see the great soundshell-like curves framing the reception desks, and the gold columns, curling gold garlands and silver-mirrored rails that frame the first five floors of the atrium.

Glamour in the atrium

Entrance to AI Mahara Seafood Restaurant

Colors of carpets and furnishings are vibrant and rich, not muted and pale. Pattern is conspicuous. The fact that thousands of square feet of 22-karat gold leaf have been used in the interior was met with astonishment.

To this recent viewer, the overall effect is stunning; a glamorous, even futuristic interior that appeals for its lively opulence and brave use of color within such an ethereal yet masterfully engineered white spire.

Water is a central feature; dancing arcs of it weave together in a graceful display, ajet of water shoots skyward, 138 feet (42 m) high. A waterfall cascades between the escalators to the atrium lounge in an artfully computer-choreographed sequence of mesmerizing movements. Even more captivating is the underwater-therned restaurant. Access is via a three-minute virtual submarine voyage. Once you disembark, you will dine on award-winning fare, seated beside the diverse sea life of the Arabian Gulf: leopard and reef sharks, manta rays, moray eels, butterfly, unicorn and parrot fish swimming in a massive floor -to-ceiling aquarium that wraps around the hotel’s signature restaurant.

The billowing sail of a traditional Arabian dhow was chosen as the essence of the design, transforming five years later into a spectacular hotel. Currently the world’s tallest hotel, it soars 1,053 feet (321 m) into the air. A helipad cantilevered out from its top Iloor has also served as a grass tennis court for Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, and a green for Tiger Woods. The sail’s translucent white fabric is actually Teflon-coated fiberglass, stretched across the steel structural frame. By day the glow of the white wall lights up the atrium; at night, the facade becomes a beacon, with a kinetic display of light in changing colors. Fire and water shows make an even greater spectacle.

ot long after Burj al Arab opened, an understandably enthusiastic journalist reported that her stay here was a “seven-star” experience. Although in fact the hotel is rated the highest of the star system at five-plus, it is indeed in a different galaxy in terms of its innovative design, its luxury suites, butler service and spa, and its ability to impress even the most jaded. It has become the pin-up poster of destination architecture.

A new Colossus of Dubai is taking shape. Currently under construction, Burj Dubai is a 2,650 foot (808 m) – and could be even higher – skyscraper designed by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. When completed, it will be the tallest humanmade structure of any kind in history. Standing apart on its own island, curving white against the sky, Burj al Arab will keep its title as the instantly recognizable and iconic building on the Dubai skyline.