UAE: Old World Charm with a Western Twist
Not long ago, I had the fortune to travel to a part of the world that is probably off the radar for most people. Coming from the Western World I had some preconceptions about what I was about to experience. I encountered a down-to-earth and friendly culture, stunning scenery and fantastic cuisine! The UAE is now one of my top travel destinations after China, Hong Kong and Iceland. Dubai is the Emirate (1/7) that resonates in most people’s mind because it is such a World Wonder, and it truly is –and much more!
In contrast with Bahrain, Fujairah, Muscat and the rest of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most modern metropolises with a flavor of the Arab World. The landscape in Dubai is amazing with luxurious and endless skyscrapers (unfortunately many were empty or left at half construction because of the bubble burst), inviting top-of-the line shopping, and a very thriving nightlife and culinary scene. The diversity of Arab-Asian cultures makes for a fun and vibrant place to live and visit. Opulence is the word that comes to mind when I think of the mosques, sheik palace, malls, hotels and restaurants.
While very expensive, shopping is something not to be missed, especially at the gold souks (walking street markets). Jewelry is exquisite and Arab fashion so unique. Old world perfume houses still mix oil-based fragrances on-site and the bottles are as precious as what they contain. Where else in the world can you find a 7-Star hotel, the tallest tower, snow skiing in the middle of the desert and man-made islands with the shape of a palm tree?
What’s really different from the West
Taste a great variety of scrumptious Middle Eastern/Asian cuisine from many ethnicities, –even the fast food at the United Arab Emirates Mall Food Court is great! Safety is taken very seriously as the pettiest crime is severely punished. There are opulent mosques for men and more conservative mosques for women. Segregation of the sexes is a way of life not only at praying time, but at home, in schools, and elsewhere. Western women visiting any of the Emirates must observe and respect customs and traditions, especially when visiting mosques.
For our next Culinary Adventures and our 2011 Upcoming Events Listing.
¡Happy New Year!