United Arab Emirates – World Trip Day 6 – 12

united arab emirates, dubai, abu dhabi, old town

Day 5 (Evening) – Flight to United Arab Emirates

Arriving in Abu Dhabi at 1:30 am after enduring over 40 hours without a bed, drained from Kuwait, we hopped on a spontaneous flight for a mere €24. The decision was made just 8 hours before departure, marking the most impromptu flight direction in my life thus far.

The immigration process was straightforward, although the nearly one-hour wait tested the endurance of my already fatigued legs. For this one night, we indulged in the most expensive hotel of the journey, costing €120. Despite having only 8 hours from check-in to check-out, the deprivation of sleep from previous days left me yearning for more rest.

Day 6 – Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, luck continued to elude us. Attempts to contact our Airbnb host regarding an early arrival went unanswered. We booked a hotel in downtown Abu Dhabi near the beach – a genuine luxury at €60 per night, boasting a rooftop, pool, gym, and spacious rooms and bathrooms. Contemplating the prospect of moving to an Airbnb the next day and sharing an apartment with the host, we savored our time at the hotel. We enjoyed a shisha on the rooftop and spent hours working in the comfort of our bed.

Earlier in the day, we grabbed shawarma (I opted for a falafel sandwich), visited a supermarket for water and snacks, and took a leisurely stroll along the beach. Here, we stumbled upon the MOTN (Mother of the Nature Festival), an event touted as instagrammable, likely another strategic move to promote tourism in the Emirates.

As we wandered, we grappled with questions about our behavior in this foreign land. Can we display affection in public? Like holding hands when we go for a walk? How should we dress? Is the protocol different in other emirates like Dubai? Opting for discretion and withdrawal, we continued exploring Abu Dhabi Marina, discovering the impressive Rixos Hotel. A taxi ride back to the hotel concluded our day, with the remainder spent working.

Day 7 – Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The anticipated check-in for our Airbnb the next morning was met with silence from the host. Undeterred, we set out to explore the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. To reach it by bus, we first had to secure a day ticket at the main station – a 6 km walk from the hotel because you can’t get these tickets at normal bus stations. A chance to acquaint ourselves better with the city. The bus ride took 30 minutes, and upon arrival, I adorned a headscarf for the first time in my life—purchased in Turkey for €2. The sensation was peculiar but deemed fitting for the mosque visit. Entry was free; registration on-site and a QR code snapshot granted access.

The mosque’s beauty captivated us, and we understood why it often appears deserted in Instagram photos. Access to the central square was prohibited, except for designated areas for photography.

After our mosque visit, we lingered in the mall for lunch and then returned to the hotel to retrieve our backpacks and check into the Airbnb. A disconcerting surprise awaited us → no response from the host, and lacking the precise address (unreceived), we couldn’t check in. Enlisting Airbnb’s assistance yielded a cryptic claim from the host that I inexplicably failed to show up. No response followed my numerous messages to the host. Thus, at 7 pm, we scrambled to find another hotel, surprisingly even better than the first, and still priced at an unbeatable €60.

Day 8 – Traveling to Sharjah

Fully recharged, our journey to Dubai began by bus. A city bus to the main station presented a peculiar incident where my friend, seated in the ladies‘ section, drew a reprimand from the bus driver following a passenger complaint. Arriving at the main station, we boarded a bus to Abu Dhabi, costing €6.25 per person. This time, seated again in the ladies‘ area but with fake wedding rings in place, no complaints arose about us sitting together as a couple.

Arriving in Sharjah, a city north of Dubai, we relished in affordable and delectable Arabic cuisine, took a brief nap due to sheer exhaustion, and later headed to the waterfront at 7 pm to witness a light show at the fountains (akin to Dubai). In the waterfront park, there were signs everywhere stating that only families were allowed in some areas. Oddly, we saw all kinds of people here. Also, it was emphasized in big letters to refrain from holding hands. In general, Sharjah gives me the impression of being even more conservative than Abu Dhabi, and I wondered what it would be like in Dubai, where you always see girls half-naked on Instagram. After a 10 km walk, we retired for the night, preparing for a day of exploration in Dubai.

Day 9 – City Strolls Dubai

Today’s agenda included exploring the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai Marina. Around noon, we ventured into the mall, an intricate labyrinth. Discoveries included the famous aquarium, a waterfall, an ice rink, Chinatown, and a traditional Arabian souk. Multiple rounds around the colossal food court ensued due to lunch indecision. Exiting the mall, we marveled at the Burj Khalifa, proceeding to the Dubai Marina. A stroll along the canal brought us to yachts, and we arrived at Marina Beach just in time for sunset, although our stay was brief. Our return to the Sharjah accommodation concluded the day.

Day 10 – Dubai Old Town Tour

Commencing at 7 am, our day began early, aiming for a 9:30am tour of the Old Town of Dubai. The bus journey from Sharjah unfolded with observations of a significant Indian presence in the vicinity. Arriving in the Old Town, we met our tour guide, who provided insights into the history, culture, and heritage of Dubai and the UAE.

Starting with a walk through Al Seef, an area built solely for tourism seven years ago, we progressed to the Old Town Souq. A short boat trip across Dubai Creek followed, and we explored the Spice Market and the Gold Market. The tour was an enlightening experience, offering new perspectives on life in the Emirates. Returning to Sharjah, we spent the afternoon in the waterfront park, with the evening dedicated to work.

Days 11 & 12 – Back to Abu Dhabi

The subsequent days facilitated our return to Abu Dhabi and provided time for work and relaxation. The initial challenges and experiences in Kuwait and Abu Dhabi lingered in our bones. Since Abu Dhabi didn’t interest me much anyway, I didn’t necessarily have to look at any sights in the city, and we replenished enough energy for the next days in Oman.

Until our next rendezvous, dear ones! Feel free to check out my previous diary entries about Istanbul and the big fail in Kuwait!

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