Wednesday, April 17, 2013

UAE & Oman Trip

I'm back from my little get away to the United Arab Emirates and Oman, and away from the Czech cold.  It was great.  And the weather was nice and sunny.  35°C (95°F).  Thank goodness for plenty of SPF 55.

I flew in to Abu Dhabi and made my way the 2.5 hours to Sharjah.  It's basically a suburb of Dubai.  With all of the traffic it's a little more than an hour to Dubai from Sharjah but I guess that's what happens when gas is so cheap.

The next day was my day trip to Khasab.  This was by far my favorite day.  It was absolutely brilliant!  I loved cruising down the fjords in an Omani dhow.

Dubai wasn't quite what I was expecting.  I think it's like when you're the last person to see a new movie.  Everyone has built it up so much that by the time you get around to seeing it, you're like ehhh, whatever.

It wasn't bad but not quite what I expected.  It was very smoggy while I was there so the mega skyscrapers were impressive but not as much as they could have been.  The Dubai metro isn't really geared for tourists.  Every cool building seemed to be an hour away, from each other, on the other side of town.

Plus it didn't really feel like the Middle East.  I did come across people in traditional Arab dress but it wasn't the majority.  Almost everyone working in the UAE is an expat with most coming from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and parts of Africa.  On the upside there were plenty of really good Indian restaurants and almost everyone spoke English.

It was kind of fun though seeing Baskin-Robbins, Hardee's, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc., advertised in both English and Arabic.

I preferred Abu Dhabi to Dubai.  Even though it is the capital, Abu Dhabi seems to be the underdog since Dubai normally gets all of the attention.  And I tend to root for the underdog.  Abu Dhabi had more of a Middle East feeling.  And with the amount of construction going on there I'm sure that it will out marvel  Dubai in a few short years.

With the whole gay thing being illegal in the UAE, I know that my mother is glad that I'm now back in Euroland.  But it's not like I was there to hook up or to lead a parade or something.  However, I was curious to see to what extent censorship runs.  It's there alright.  I wasn't even able to log in to a gay chat room.

So overall, the trip did what it was supposed to do.  I got to relax for a few days.  There was plenty of sunshine.  I got to enjoy some very cool architecture.  I extended my travel adventures from Europe to the Middle East.  And with Dubai checked off the list I can now look at visiting Israel sometime in the next year or two.  

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