Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Two Weeks In Country

So I have been in the UAE for two weeks now, and I have to say things have been great. Amy did an incredible job setting up the apartment and having everything ready to go by the time I arrived. I didn't really have to do anything other than unpack my bags. And aside from a lot of time spent in government buildings processing my residence visa, we were able to get out and see Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. Al Ain is roughly an hour and a half from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so they make perfect weekend trips. 

Although Al Ain is known as "The Garden City", it is still in the middle of the desert, and surrounded by the UAE's largest sand dunes. We didn't make it to the largest dunes, but we easily found some big ones to explore.

We first traveled to Abu Dhabi and had lunch at the Emirates Palace. Situated across from the Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace is considered to be one of the nicest hotels on the planet. So nice in fact, you can buy gold out of a vending machine. Oh, and the sandwiches they served at their lunch counter, yeah, they have gold on them too.

After spending the day in Abu Dhabi, we decided to head to Dubai for the night. A short hour's drive away, Dubai is by far the largest city in the UAE. I thought there might be some parity between the two cities, but there is really no comparison. The next day we got up and did what every Emirati in Dubai does, we went to the mall. Most people who know me well know that I am not a fan of malls, but I have to say I was impressed by the Dubai Mall. The largest mall in the world, it has everything that you could want, and more. There is a full sized ice hockey arena, an aquarium with sharks, rays and all types of fish (that you can go scuba diving in!), a waterfall, exotic sports cars on display, and more shops and stuff than a person would ever need. The scale of it is amazing.

The funny thing about seeing both the Mercedes 300SL and the Lamborghini Aventador is that they were on display, but on our way to Dubai we were passed by an AMG Mercedes SLS, one of the fastest super-cars in the world.

Finally, on stepping out the back of the Dubai Mall, we encountered the Dubai Mall Fountains and the Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Mall Fountains are larger and apparently more spectacular than the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Burj Khalfia is currently the world's tallest building. And it is staggering.

Unfortunately, tickets to the top of the Burj were all sold out, and we missed the last fountain show of the day, so we will be returning in a few weeks to catch these can't miss sights!

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