Fujairah

This small Emirate is a popular weekend getaway for many who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. With its beautiful coastline and the picturesque Hajar mountains, there is a lot on offer.
The Shaik Zayed Mosque with its white pristine beauty is a place one must visit. However, non-Muslims are not allowed inside the Mosque. It is supposedly as big as 3 football fields and has minarets which are over 100 metres high. It can accommodate about 32,000 worshippers at a time.
The Fujairah Fort is the oldest fort in the UAE. It was partly destroyed in the early 20th century but has been now largely restored. It is a stone building and has several halls, two round towers and a square tower. A heritage village around the fort has exhibits of houses as they were in the olden days and a lot of information about the traditional way of life.
Close by is the Fujairah Museum which houses several artefacts from the Bronze and Iron ages. A prized item on display is a bowl made from an Ostrich egg which is over 2000 years old. There are many displays of traditional Emirati life.
The Al Bidyah Mosque which is built with mud and brick is possibly the oldest one in the UAE. The Prayer Hall has many arches and ventilators. A graveyard next to it has graves that date back to the Iron Age. So very historical and worth a visit.
For all you beach buffs, there are some excellent beaches here. You can snorkel and swim and scuba dive. The coastline is on the Gulf of Oman, not the Arabian Gulf.
Masafi, which is a part of both Fujairah and Ras Al-Khaimah has natural water springs. The Hajar mountains are in this area. You will see Masafi mineral water bottles all over the UAE. The local market here is good and sells handicrafts, antiques, carpets etc. You can also go to the Ain Al-Madhab hot springs and bathe or swim in the pools there.
Wadi bashing or four-wheel driving in dry riverbed areas is famous in this area. Wadi Saham, Wadi Siji, Wadi Ham, Wadi Al Taiwan which has a route through the mountains to reach it and Wadi al-Wuhrayah which has some waterfalls and a pool you can swim in are worth going to.
Contact www.unitedworld.ae and they will ensure your trip is enjoyable.

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Ferrari World – Yas Island

This indoor park is inspired by the automobile giant Ferrari (but of course)! It is vast, so better wear comfortable sneakers (even though I saw women tottering around in incredibly high stilettoes – can never understand how!). Over 86,000 square metres, you definitely need a day to do it justice. It was opened to the public in November 2010 and attracts thousands of visitors daily!
There are over 20 rides inspired by Ferrari. Roller coasters, live simulators etc – all there for you to pick. There are rides for kids, for teenagers and oldies who want something more sedate.
The Formula Rossa is the fastest roller coaster in the world – I got dizzy just watching it from afar. Nothing will persuade me to go on that ride as I’m a big funk, so pay no attention to me! I watched in awe the Turbo Track. It shoots out of the roof at a speed of about 102 km/hour and then goes up 64 feet before dropping back down vertically. Just watching it gave me a near heart attack! But then again, remember I’m a funk! There was a long line of brave adventurous people waiting to experience the ride. The Flying Aces which goes at a 53-degree incline is crazy but obviously very popular!
The Go kart race track is super. Some 12 cars take part and there is a scoreboard which displays your standing. It’s great fun – even I did it, though I didn’t feature in the top 5! Benno’s Great Race is interactive and the special effects are great. There is a junior race course for kids. Drive with the Champion is a must do ride – a motion-based simulator which allows you to experience the thrill of the Fiorano track. The BellÍtalia had a long queue but I went anyway. You get to sit in a Ferrari 250 and explore a mini Italy leisurely. It’s quite relaxing really. The Viaggio in Italy is a multi-sensory simulator that takes you gliding over mountains, villages and vineyards. Very nice.
Do a tour of the Galleria Ferrari – an interactive historical gallery or watch a movie featuring Enzo Ferrari at the Cinema Maranello. There’s loads to do. I tanked up on Pepsi and some gourmet popcorn and then wandered into the hall which had Ferrari exhibits. These exciting cars are such a delight to behold.
The Ferrari Past and Present store is sensational. You can buy caps, tee shirts and other souvenirs. Expensive, but remember this is Ferrari!
If you’re hungry there an excellent Italian Trattoria. Enjoy a leisurely lunch before you venture out on more adventure.
The Yas Water world next door has 43 rides and slides. Great way to spend the day. With rides like the Jebel Drop – ride down a waterslide in a free fall, Sebag – a 6 lane slide, Rush Rider – flowboarding, Falcon’s Falaj – a raft ride, Bandit Bomber – the largest suspended rollercoaster in the Gulf area, Amwaj Wave pool, a special area for tiny tots, Al Waha cabanas – to just relax especially for someone like moi. So many differently themed water slides – some like snakes, twisty ones etc. Numerous snack bars and restaurants dot this park. You can of course pick up fridge magnets and other little curios.
If you time your visit right, you can witness the Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit! Worth thinking about. If you are a runner, do the Zayed Marathon which allows you to run on the circuit.
If you still have energy left, go to the Yas Mall. From Debenhams to Victoria’s Secret to Aerosoles and Armani Jeans – they are all there.
Book your trip there with United World at www.unitedworld.ae. Nobody does it better.

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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By the Creek

Is this a river or a canal? In the days of yore, it used to be called the Zara River and it went upto Al Ain. Nowadays it’s a salt water creek and part of the new Dubai Canal which joins the Persian Gulf. In the olden days, Dhows (traditional sailing vessels) used to carry cargo and items of trade through this creek. They were also of course used for fishing.
It divides the city into two areas – Bur Dubai and Deira. It’s fun to take the ferry or Abra across the creek. It connects the water stations of Al Shindagha and Al Sabhka. Approx 14 kms in length, this creek vends it way to end at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife sanctuary – a wetland that attracts many migratory birds. Birds that go there are the flamingos, Caspian tern, Cormorant, Osprey, Spotted Eagle and others.
If you take an Abra or a Dhow ride along the canal, you can do many a touristy thing. Visit the Dubai Museum inside the Al Fahidi Fort or gambol with some dolphins at the Dolphinarium which also offers some live shows. Take a selfie and post it in your social media! You can traverse some part of the creek park suspended some metres above in a cable car.
Late in the evening, when the sun is down, you can walk along the wharf. Chat with the friendly fishermen and sailors around there. You can shop for spices (very aromatic) or some gold – depends on how deep your pocket is!! The creek side also plays host to live shows, music bands and firework displays through the year.
Coming back to the creek, in the evenings it teems with people. With many restaurants around, it’s a good place to socialize. You can listen to good foot tapping Arabic music, eat good local food and puff away on a hookah aka shisha. Green apple and Vanilla are hot favorites. As you walk along, these flavours will assail your senses.
You must try the gelato made from camel milk at the Arabic shop near the Deira Abra station. Mint tea or Suleiman chai, shawarma (a roti like roll stuffed with fries, onion, chicken or beef with a garlic sauce), hummus (chick pea paste) with Khubus (a flatbread), Zaátar on bread, tahini (sesame paste), Falafels (bit like the Indian masala vada). Wash it all down with Labaneh (a thin yogurt). For you dessert lovers try Kanafeh (cheese pastry soaked in sugar syrup), Baklava (filo layers stuffed with nuts and honey), Basbousa (a semolina cake) etc.
Used to be a favourite hang out for me and my cousins whenever I visited – we used to wander along the wharf and then duck into one of the many restaurants there. Order some food, drink some juice or labaneh, listen to lilting Arabic music, breathe in the air (be it green apple of vanilla) and the listen to the sounds of people enjoying the ambience. What better way to spend an evening albeit in a balmy kinda way! You can end your evening with an abra ride under the moonlit Arabic skies!

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Al Ain Attractions

A visit to the hot springs at Green Mubazarrah in Al Ain is a great way to unwind. With the Jebel Hafeet towering in the background, you can rest assured this will be nice outing.
The best time to visit is at dusk. It’s not very hot and seeing you’re in desert country, it’s important the sun ain’t shining and giving you a heat stroke! Dipping your feet in the little streams, pools or hot tubs that carry the water from the source is good. The water is really hot though and the bottom a little slippery. So, sit comfortably on a cushion (which you probably have to carry) and then ease your feet into the water. It feels good after a bit and I thought takes away any aches and pains you may have. I may have imagined it, but it felt so good to sit there, sip on a soda and just mull about life in general.
Jebel Hafeet literally means empty mountain. It’s in Al Ain on the border between UAE and Oman. This mountain is about 26 kms long and 4-5 kms wide. At 4098 feet, it’s the 2nd highest mountain in the UAE and has a great view of Al Ain. After you soak your feet, you can drive right to the top of the mountain. Many caves exist in Jebel Hafeet and some of them have stalagmites (a rock formation that rises from the floor and might touch the top in time) and stalactites (a formation that hangs from the roof of a cave). The caves are home to animals like snakes, bats, rodents, hyraxes (small herbivores like a badger) and foxes. Apparently, there are 117 species of birds, 23 species of beautiful butterflies and 200 species of various insects (not very appealing to me for sure, as I hate creepy crawlies)!!
At the foothills there are numerous tombs some dating back to 2700 BC. Some skeletons found there were adorned with bronze and pearls. It is actually now a world heritage site.
There is a mountain road if you wish to drive up about 11.3 kms. For the hardy, you can cycle up (me, I won’t even think about that strenuous an exercise!). There are 2 lanes going up and 1 coming down. It winds its way up with about 60 turns. There is a hotel at the top where you can quench your thirst and grab a bite. There is an annual road cycling race that happens every January. If you are really interested, go for it!
Apparently, an Arabian leopard was spotted there in the mid 70’s. It was shot and killed. There was a sighting in 1993. But now nothing…so go enjoy. There are no leopards lurking around waiting to pounce on you. Relax with your feet in hot spring water, drive up the mountain, have a meal there. It’s very relaxing!
If you need someone reliable to organize your tour for you, contact www.unitedworld.ae

Ta
Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Top’ped and Frame’d in Dubai

Best time to visit At the Top – Burj Khalifa is first thing in the morning. If you’re like me and dislike crowds, go before 9.30 am. The queues are relatively tiny and the going is easy.

Access is through the Dubai Mall basement. Follow the signs to At the Top. Once you get there, it’s easy peasy…line up and follow the arrow to the elevator. The lights go off and it sorta zooms up – music plays and pictures appear on the wall. Drink it all in and swallow rapidly if your ears have a tendency to go pop! I just chew gum diligently and it helps.

Once you’re out of the elevator, the view is stupendous. Look any which way and you will be transfixed..be it the towering skyscrapers or the frame or the Arabian sea or the vast sands of the desert! Just mesmerizing. I walked all around the 125th floor. There are lots of photo ops obviously. Do your thing – be a tourist, pose and smile and enjoy it! Drink in the view – but please ensure you go on a clear day and not when there’s a sandstorm brewing. The weather updates are very reliable. I went down to the 124th floor and guess what – the view was almost identical ?.

We then meandered over to the newest addition to Dubai’s ‘must visit’ places. The Frame – it’s what the name suggests. A huge picture frame which is 150 m high and 105 m wide. Built with glass, steel, aluminium and reinforced concrete, this solid structure which was opened to public in January 2018, attracts many visitors daily. The frame is very shiny and is gold plated! In the evening, it’s lit up and looks very nice.

To the North is the old city of Dubai – Bur Dubai, Karama, the Creek. To the South is the new city – skyscrapers, new structures, Burj Khalifa and the like.

I bounded out of the elevator and looked around with great excitement – the view is spectacular. Old Dubai to one side and the newer version on the other. I had no idea about the floor though – spoiler alert coming up!! As I walked through the frame, looking out of the huge glass windows, I realized some folks were acting a bit strange. They looked shaky and there was a lot of nervous giggling and chattering around me! They were also all looking downward. So, I decided to look downward as well – OMG!! The floor which was opaque had turned clear and there I was looking at the ground some 46 floors below!! Jeez – my knees went all wobbly and my heart was pounding! Since I didn’t know about this glass floor, I reacted by jumping off very quickly to solid floor next to it! This glass floor goes all the way through the centre!! I’ve been on glass floors in the Grand Canyon and Canada but knew what I was getting in to. This took me by surprise, hence the cowardly custard reaction! Even after, I couldn’t bring myself to walk on it, so gingerly put a foot on the glass, hastily took a pic and then took refuge by the railing.

I came down and treated myself to a Turkish ice cream – try it. The guy who delivers it is a real treat!

You must visit. Book your tours through United World – they do it well and with aplomb!

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Dhow’ing in the Marina

What better way to spend an evening, then slowly cruising the marina in a dhow? Book in advance and be at the Marina pier by 8.30 pm. Once they tick off your name in the list, you can bound into the dhow and quickly find your table. If you are the kind who enjoys feeling muggy, ask for a table on the top deck. If you’re like me and prefer the cool and non-muggy feeling, take a table indoors and sit in AC comfort.
The boat will slowly take off with a blast of the ole horn! Armed with your non-alcoholic welcome drink to sip on, lean over the railing and enjoy the lights and sights of the Dubai Marina. Lilting Arabic music playing in the background, a cacophony of voices, camera flashlights – it’s good to be alive!
The boat cruises up and down the Marina whilst you feast on good food. A mix of Indian, Arabic and Chinese – there is something for everyone. The huge buildings on either side are always lit up and looks super. Twinkling lights and huge buildings with marvelous facades. Many hotels dot the boulevard. You can look at booking a room in one of these to have a daily marina view during your stay.
Our dhow went very close to the “soon-to-be-opened” Dubai eye. It’s huge and am sure will be superb once inaugurated.
My table had a mix of nationalities – Chinese, Lebanese, American and moi Indian! The Lebanese couple were celebrating their anniversary. The man whipped out a small box just before dinner and gave her a ring with a small rock on it! Lucky lady! It was all very romantic and nice to behold.
There was some entertainment by way of a Swirling Dervish soon after dinner. Also known as Sufi turning or whirling, this originated among the Sufis (a dimension of Islam). They believe that by abandoning one’s ego, listening to music and a strong focus on God, they can reach perfection. They spin their body in repetitive circles (believe me they are fast and just watching can make you feel very dizzy) – believed to be symbolic of the planets orbit around the sun. The Egyptian form (which is what I saw) has the dervish in a multi-coloured skirt or tanoura. They whirl around in time to the rhythm of the music. The skirt sometimes lights up (series of LED lights sewed onto it) and it looks awesome. He was nothing short of magnificent and I was entranced by the fact that he didn’t keel over with dizziness. He used some props as well – ribbons and a stole. He invited some members of the audience to dance with him and they did so gamefully. I didn’t even attempt it – just watching made my head spin.
After a delightful 2 hours on the Marina, we disembarked to head home. It’s a great way to spend the evening especially if you are wooing the special one in your life!

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Louvre – See Humanity in a New Light

As we approached this building that seems to float on water in the Saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi, I realized that I was very excited to be visiting the Louvre. I had wandered around the original one in Paris, many years ago and enjoyed every single moment. The UAE government has paid France $525 million to use the name Louvre! This is touted to be the largest Art museum at 8000 square metres, in the Arab peninsula.
Jean Nouvell who is the architect of this magnificent building, has created quite the masterpiece. The building is a big dome (180 metres in diameter) with a web patterned roof – an intricate webbing of 7,850 star shapes in 8 layers at different angles. The sun filters through – supposed to signify rays of sunlight filtering through palm fronds in an oasis. The effect in some parts is quite exhilarating!
On display is the Salvator Mundi – a painting of Christ in a Renaissance dress, by Leonardo da Vinci. Bought for a whopping $450.3 m, it’s the most expensive painting ever sold and a wonder to behold. Several other paintings include La Belle Ferronniere by Leonardo da Vinci, Self Potrait by Vincent Van Gogh, Virgin and Child by Giovanni Bellini, Game of Bezique by Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte, an oil on canvas Napolean Bonaparte crossing the Alps by French artist Jacques-Louis David, Horses of the Sun by Gilles Guerin, La Gare Saint Lazare by Claude Monet, Arrangement in Grey and Black or Whistler’s Mother by James McNeill Whistler, the Subjugated Reader by Rene Magritte amongst numerous others. Just thinking that this building houses paintings by da Vinci, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Bellini makes you feel humbled! It’s a bit of a high really!
A towering Rameses II statue, a medieval statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, Rodin’s Walking Man on a Column, an ancient Egyptian status of Goddess Isis nursing Horus, Statue of Gudea, Bactrian Princess, a superb bust of Emperor Constantine, standing statue of Bodhisattva from Gandhara to a bronze statue of Shiva, the funeral set of Princess Henuttawy – you can gaze on them all! You must also see Ai Wei Wei’s absolutely fantastic Fountain of Light.
In glass cabinets on display are some rare ancient texts – the Book of Hours which is a late 15th century book, the Quran, Korah, Bible and sacred Sutra scrolls sit next to each other in perfect harmony.
For a museum buff like me, this was virtual nirvana. I didn’t have time to stop and mull and absorb as I had a flight to catch – but I intend going back there and spending a longer time. I would hazard at least 5 hours at a minimum is required to do this museum justice. You can rest your tired legs and have a refreshing Yuzu lemongrass mocktail with a Wagyu burger at the museum café. I’m not going to explain what they are – go and try it! It has a great outdoor seating area overlooking the sea and also an inside space. Take your pick.
The museum is open Saturday to Wednesday from 10:00am – 8:00pm, on Thursday and Fridays from 10:00am – 11:00pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. Entry free is AED 65 and AED 21 for the Headpieces which explain each exhibit in detail.
I walked through over 23 galleries and it was such a super experience. This museum celebrates art and the artists who created them!
Book your tour with United World. Nobody does it better!

Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Humungous Dubai Mall

I’ve travelled widely and seen many a mall in my life, but none of them is a patch on this wonderful oasis of everything in the middle of Dubai. Humungous because it’s about 50 football stadia put together! I’ve traversed the length and breadth of this mall many a time (and not in one day let me tell u!!), but each time I spy something new! It’s a virtual Alladin’s cave of delights! I’m quite a mall rat, so this is for me…

From a skating rink, to the famous musical fountain, movie theatres, supermarkets, food courts, shops for all kinds of shoppers, the huge magnificent aquarium…it has everything. I’m going to try and capture as much as I can to entice you to visit this place..

The metro takes you to the mall in case you don’t find a cab. There are numerous entrances, so if you are parking your car you should take a picture of the parking bay so you don’t get lost trying to find it when you’re done. Get a map with details of the stores – if you can’t find a map there are many Help Desks as also touch screens which will give you store details.

It’s a whole adventure by itself, this mall. I am always mesmerized by the aquarium which is a 10 million litre suspended tank! Whew!! With over 140 species of marine life like the sting ray, sharks, Nemo and Dory by the dozens on display, it doesn’t get better than this. Buy some gourmet popcorn from Garret Popcorn just across from the Aquarium, hike up the stairs to Level 1, buy some latte from the coffee store there and sit by the glass window and just watch the fish. It is soothing and destressing.

There is a huge skating rink where you can try your hand (or leg) at ice skating. They have classes for beginners – so go and try. You may slip and fall, but what the heck. It’s so much fun. If you don’t want to skate, just go grab a chai at PappaRoti café which overlooks the rink. Eat the wonderful coffee coated bun with its yummy butter filling. Heavy on calories but don’t you worry – you will walk so much in that mall, you will definitely lose more than a pound!

If you are a compulsive shopper, this could be a very dangerous place to be in – stores abound! Everywhere you look, there is some fabulous store – M&S, Charles & Keith, Gap, Benetton, H&M, Aeropostale, Aldo and high-end stores like Lladro, Armani, Baccarat etc. The list is unending and there is something for everyone. Also, very conveniently, there are ATMs at every possible turn!

If you want to take a ride up to the viewing deck of the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, you can book a slot in the basement of the Mall. The 360-degree view on a clear day is awe inspiring and very worth it. My ears pop going up but if you do the swallow right, you will be just fine!

Go to one of the many food courts to tank up. From Japanese to Chinese to Indian and Arabic, you will get whatever your heart desires. You will be spoilt for choices really.

If you want to chill and just watch a movie, go to the Cinema wing. You can watch some of the latest movies in world class comfort. There is an MX4D theatre which actually allows you to feel the action on the screen with the built-in motion and effects in the theatre and also the seats! Very advanced. Kids will love it – actually I did too!

Towards the evening head to the Dubai Fountain area. This is the world’s largest choreographed fountain and is simply amazing. If you want to get personal and close, book a ticket for the lake ride. I’ve watched it several times from the viewing deck and it’s super. Music plays – could be Bollywood, Classical, Arabic or world music – the fountain jets dance to the foot tapping beats! It’s out of this world. Lights play, lasers swing here and there, the jets go up to 500 feet! The Prayer (Celine Dion and Andrea Boticelli) and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough are my personal favorites for song themes.
?I could go on and on about this wonderful mall, but I’ll let you go there and discover it for yourself.

To experience the shopping mall tour – visit www.unitedworld.ae for the best offers in destination management services

Ta
Mavis Mendonca Smith

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United Arab Emirates – A Brief…

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm al-Quwain form the United Arab Emirates. Each of them is unique and has something different to offer to a tourist. Abu Dhabi is the Capital but each of them is ruled by a Monarch. Natural gas reserves and oil make it a very sought after country to work in. There has been a shift though in recent years to more business and tourism to boost the economy. Islam is the official religion and Arabic its language.
In the early days, due to the harsh desert environment, there were many nomadic tribes. They hunted and did some basic agriculture and animal husbandry to survive. Pearling was also widely popular. In the 1920’s the British, who had figured out that oil was abundant in this area, set up drilling units for oil. The boom began and several oil companies were set up.
In 1962, Shaik Zayed bin Sultan began construction of schools, houses, hospital and modern roads. This was aided by the increasing oil revenues. Dubai began its modernization in 1969 and gradually became the global city that is now world famous. The other Emirates followed suit.
In the present day, the Emirates have much to offer. Read on…

Abu Dhabi
Dhabi refers to a kind of gazelle that was once native to that region. Abu means father – so Abu Dhabi literally means Father of the gazelle. In modern times, Abu Dhabi is famed for its skyscrapers. Notable among them are the Etihad Towers. Must visit is the Grand Mosque. A marvel in architecture, this was built using marbles, semi-precious stones, crystal and ceramics. The Yas Marina circuit hosts the F1 once a year as also other super car events. Ferrari World is a theme entertainment complex and you can spend a day here. The National auto museum, History Museum and Aquarium, Saadiyat Island etc are good places to visit. There are many malls if you feel like you have many dhirams to spend!

Dubai
This place is like no other – I never cease to marvel at how this desert has been converted into an oasis with huge buildings, roads and flyovers, malls, gardens, canals etc. You can shop in comfort at huge malls, stay at humungous hotels or resorts, see the worlds’ highest building and fountain, eat whatever cuisine you wish to, travel in comfort in cabs, buses or the metro! A melting pot of cultures – you have people from every part of the world here seeking their fortune. There is much to do for children – adventure parks, indoor skiing, ice skating..you name it, it’s there. For the male population there is sport – golf, tennis, sky diving, desert safaris etc..it teems with people and there is a buzz always. A sense of excitement pervades the atmosphere and you never know what to expect. It’s amazing! There is opulence everywhere and it reflects in the buildings, food, roads, malls, transport system etc.

Sharjah
The emirate adjoining Dubai is Sharjah. Rents are a bit cheaper here and you will find people living just across the border and travelling to Dubai to work. Point to note – the consumption of alcohol without a license is prohibited in this emirate so be careful. Known as the Islamic culture capital, Sharjah exudes its own charm. Several museums showcase art, history, heritage, Islamic art and culture. You will see many mosques as you drive along. It has two major covered Souqs (markets) which are good to visit. Sharjah overlooks the Persian Gulf.

Ras al-Khaimah
Literally means “Headland of small huts” – probably because of numerous buildings that used to exist along the coastline. This emirate has very fertile soil due to good rain and the supply of underground water from the Omani mountains. You can visit the National Museum, Dhayah Fort, ruins of a medieval palace, a ghost town Al Jazirah Al Hamra or just sip tea and nibble on a sandwich at the Waldorf Astoria.

Ajman
Famous for the fishing industry and seafood export, this small Emirate has other things to offer for the tourist. The Ajman National Museum which is situated in a fort is worth a visit. The Wasit Wetland Centre attracts migratory birds. For the bird lover, this place is paradise. You can see rare birds like the glossy Ibis, Marbled duck, greater Flamingo and grey Heron. About 350 species of birds flock this place. The Al Zorah natural reserve is a natural mangrove forest and is a haven for birds and marine life. There is a waterfront and several water activities. For golf enthusiasts, there is a championship golf course nearby. Shaik Zayed Mosque and Al Murabbaa watchtower are worth a visit.

Fujairah
This emirate is the only one to have its coast on the Gulf of Oman and not the Persian Gulf. Whilst the other emirates are mostly desert, this emirate is mountainous and has good rainfall. Must visit are the Fujairah Fort and Museum. You can parasailrkel or para sail at the various beaches (Dibba, Sandy, Umbrella) that dot this emirate. Wadi Wurayah is great to visit. Home to over 300 species of birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians it also has a super waterfall in the Hajar mountains. The Arabian Tahr (a kind of wild goat), Arabian leopard (not been spotted for some years now) and the caracal Lynx live in this habitat.

Umm al-Quwain
Located between Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman, this is the smallest of the Emirates. Translated, it means Mother of Two Powers, with reference to sea faring amongst tribes. You can sail in the calm lagoon waters or get adventurous and surf, water ski, kayak or water ski. You can parachute jump, go in a hot air balloon or sky dive at the Aero Club. The Motor Racing Club has race tracks to do buggy driving or off-road dune motoring. There are some good bird watching sites for keen birdwatchers. You can watch camel races or falconry. Something to do for every age really.

Whilst most tourists only visit Dubai, there is so much to see at the other smaller Emirates. You need to plan well so that you can make optimum use of your time.

Ta
Mavis Mendonca Smith

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Dubai Adventure

This destination is a quick flight away from any city in India. Truly beckons because it has so much to offer for tourists. I’ve been to Dubai so many times, have lost count! But every time I go, I marvel at the strides they have made…be it tourist attractions, fantastic hotels, shopping delights, foodie paradise, gardens with amazing flowers and fountains, buildings that boggle the mind. The fact that this desert land has been converted and is buzzing with activity is testimony to the fact that the Government believes in progress and change.
In this blog, I will focus on a few activities for children. There are too many to cover in one page so just a few that I’ve enjoyed. Summer is upon us and a long 2 months loom ahead. So much to do though as far as kids go.
Ski Dubai which is an indoor ski resort comes to mind, with the almost real snow and penguins waddling around. Go there and sled or try your hand at skiing, toboggan or sled runs. There is an ice cave, you can have a snowball fight, feed the penguins. It’s quite a thrill really. It’s part of the Mall of the Emirates in Al Barsha. There are 5 slopes with varying degrees of difficulty. I can’t even try the gentlest of slopes but have seen people have an absolute blast!
Go to the Atlantis in Palm Jumeirah. Based on the mythical Atlantis, this building is an architectural marvel. As you drive towards it on the awesome road built on reclaimed land, you can see how huge it is. You need a full day for the water park. Swim with the fishes (oops, meant the dolphins ?) and gambol with sea lions. Get fishy kisses from the friendly dolphins – it’s really nice! You don’t need to be a swimmer – this is in shallow waters.
The Aquaventure Waterpark at the Atlantis is a must visit. With its dizzy water slides aptly named Aquaconda, Poseiden’s Revenge, Slitherine, Zoomerango – it’s quite the adventure and gives you a huge adrenalin rush. There are water coasters and river rides and you can try a hand at feeding some friendly Cownose Rays. The Shark enclosure is quite exciting with a close encounter with these scary fish! There is a beach area for the mommies to relax and sip on some heady concoction. Numerous restaurants offer varied fare. There is a special splashers area for the little ‘uns. So something for everyone!
Wild Wadi Water Park on the Jumeirah Beach road is worth a visit. With some 30 rides on offer, it can keep you occupied all day. With rides to suit all ages, it’s great for kids and adults alike. Rides have names like Burj Surj, Tantrum Alley, Wipeout Flowrider. They have a river with high waves and a lazy river ride as well. The Wipeout shoots out approx. 7 tonnes of water per second in a thin sheet across a foam structure thereby producing a wave effect. Ideal for knee and body boarding.
Legoland offers Lego inspired rides, building experiences. You can never be too old to enjoy this! There is also a waterpark with Lego water slides, a raft river which you can glide in using your own custom built lego raft!
Motiongate Dubai – is Hollywood inspired. Dreamworks, Lionsgate and Colombia Pictures are brought to life here. Big screens air well loved films like Shrek. There are some awesome rides and you can have a peek at the behind the scenes of film making. Very interesting place to spend a day at.
More in the next edition of Dubai and the other marvelous Emirates. Visit Dubai and have an enjoyable holiday.

Ta
Mavis Mendonca Smith

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