Dubai is very welcoming to tourists. However it is still a strict Muslim country where women wear hijabs and burqas, there are Mosques everywhere and at certain times throughout the day you see folks drop what they’re doing, no matter where they are to pray.
Even public displays of affection is deemed inappropriate and I had to be very careful not to go any further than just holding my husbands’ hand in public – and we only had that luxury because we are married. If confronted about that we were told that although unlikely, we could be expected to provide proof of our marriage.
On a late night cab ride back to the hotel I was so exhausted that I decided to lay my head in my husbands’ lap to catch a quick nap. I hadn’t laid down for more than a few seconds before the cab driver whipped his head back so fast to glare at us. He was in utter shock and appalled at what he saw! He only calmed down after he confirmed that we were married.
I didn’t give a second thought to this small action – at least I thought it was small and I nearly gave this poor cab driver a heart attack. This was my first faux pas in a country that does not have a separation between church and state.
I spoke in Part 1 of this Dubai post about the amazing architecture. And this also includes their mosques. Their commitment and dedication to their faith was also evident with the way they’re so beautifully constructed.
And the way they are lit at night, just beautiful.
A few of us wanted to experience the beauty from the inside and we mustered up the courage to walk up the steps to try to get into one.
When we approached the entrance we noticed that there were shoes laying at the marble entryway so the 2 men in our group quickly removed their shoes as well.
My sister in law boldly but respectfully approached a gentleman that seemed to be in charge to ask if we could go inside. His mannerism became a bit hesitant when he responded, I’m sorry but you are unclean and you are not a Muslim. He was as gentle as he could be saying something like that, but I got the hint and said let’s just go.
I wished I could’ve experience the inside but I respect their rules and their faith.
THE GOLD SOUK
There is a section of Dubai across where shipping boats are docked called the Gold Souk. A place where I imagine centuries ago sailors and merchants from around the world would come to buy and sell goods.
Jewelers line the streets selling elaborate gold and diamond pieces.
I had my heart set on purchasing gold bangles and hoop earrings and even found some that I liked
But when it came down to talk numbers, the cost of 2 gold bangles and thin hoop earrings was $1,200USD.
Now I had come prepared to haggle but the price was so far out of my haggling price range, so I knew that I would be going home without them – which is ok. There’s always Macy’s.
My sister in law however, won the jackpot at the gold souk. She and my brother in law were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary on this trip and she got a fabulous ring upgrade! What a way to celebrate 20 years of marriage.
We booked a Desert Safari Experience that included…
ABAYAS & ATV’S
This was the first stop at this road side rest stop, where vendors shove trinkets and scarves in your hands for purchase.
I did purchase a scarf and a striking abaya
They also had ATV’s available to ride – and I tried to ride on it. I rode for about 45 seconds with my husband and then asked him to take me back so I could get off. I was too chicken ya’ll and I couldn’t do it.
I did get some great pics of my husband from the sidelines. And he absolutely loved it – the adrenaline junky that he is.
THIS. WAS. SO. MUCH. FUN. Straight out of a scene from Mad Max we had an expert driving us in SUV’s speeding up and down the sand dunes, sand flying everywhere. I enjoyed every minute of it although it took me a solid 5 minutes to stop screaming and relax. But my poor husbands’ arm – I was digging my nails into his skin the entire 20 minute ride.
It was an incredible thrill. The video doesn’t do it justice but check it out…
Our sand roller coaster ride took us to a scenic point where we stopped to take selfies, usies and everything in between.
I could not have imagined the sheer beauty of the desert. Before this when I thought of a desert, all that came to mind was a dry and dusty wasteland devoid of life. But the shapes of the dunes, the movement of the sand as the wind blows and the sun setting behind it – it was absolutely breathtaking and the most serene and beautiful moment of the entire trip.
HENNA, CAMEL RIDES & A SHOW
The final stop on our tour was also in the middle of the desert at a camp set up like a bazaar with vendors and food booths surrounding groups of low tables with pillows on the floor and a main stage at the center.
Right after we found a table, the first thing I wanted to do was get henna. There was a lady in one of the booths who was giving out simple designs for free and more elaborate designs for 20 AED. I paid the extra fee and I loved how it turned out.
The camp slowly grew hectic as other tour groups were bussed in to await the food and show to come.
Once the food was ready, everyone turned into animals. We were literally herded like cattle to the buffet and you better not hesitate and hold up the line or you would get yelled at. It wasn’t a good feeling being treated like this and the food was not worth the aggravation – it was mushy and mostly tasteless.
It took a while for the show to start so my husband, brother and sister in law and I thought that we could quickly cut out to get to the camel rides before the show started.
Those poor camels were not happy walking in circles with tourists on their backs. I felt so bad for them and they understandably were aggravated with their job. They would grunt and growl each time a new group would climb on their backs.
We waited for over 30 minutes before we were quickly ushered onto our camel and instructed to hold on tight and lean back as the camel stood back up to start our ride.
It was a little scary – just the thought of being on this wild animal who clearly does not want to be doing this. I thought at any moment he would buck me off – and I couldn’t even be mad at him for doing it. What took more than 30 minutes to wait for lasted for about 30 seconds. Not exactly worth the wait but at least I can say I did it.
We ended up missing most the show – which included a fire dancer but we were just in time for the last act – a belly dancer. She was alright but after a long and tiring day and a so-so experience here at the bazaar I had enough and was ready to go home.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON DUBAI
1. This was overall an amazing experience. Great trip for a group of friends to reconnect and have a memorable and exciting time. Highlights of my trip was the desert off-roading experience and the yacht.
2. But this is not a budget trip. The price of the flight wasn’t too bad. But don’t think you can come here pinching pennies because you won’t get to do very much. Dubai is expensive – between the long cab rides, the price for a nice meal and the attractions, Dubai will put a dent in your bank account.
3. Sorry foodies, this is not the destination for you. Unless once again you are willing to shell out big bucks, I couldn’t find good local food that I would normally expect to find when traveling.
Hookah is called Shisha, which I think is so cute
All these years I have been pronouncing Dubai incorrectly. I always have heard it pronounced like Do–Bye. But a cab driver corrected us and said it is pronounced Do-Bay.
Have you ever been to Dubai or are you planning to go? What was the highlight of your trip or what are you looking forward to the most?