For some reason we had delayed visiting UAE – passing up many opportunities over the years to stopover for a few days to check it out. However our trip in late December was perfect – not intolerably hot and also a chance to see in the New Year in Dubai with their famed fireworks display.
First stop was the capital Abu Dhabi and its financial district skyline of futuristic skyscrapers. This is best viewed from the Emirates Palace luxury hotel which is located beside a dazzling bay and is pretty much magnificent in every way. The visit is an experience – from wandering the interior and the stunning grounds to the latte with its’ amazing gold leaf mosque artwork!
Next stop was Ferrari World indoor theme park with the renowned Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest roller coaster. From 0-240kph in 4.9sec Geoffrey passed up the opportunity to trying it out – or perhaps passed out would have been the result if he had.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened to much acclaim in 2017 and is an art and civilization museum. We enjoyed the visit – the exhibits were interesting and the complex wasn’t so large that we weren’t able to appreciate what the museum was trying to convey to the visitor.
Of course the highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – especially beautiful from sunset. It’s construction included artisans and natural materials from many countries including New Zealand. It was an unforgettable and moving visit.
The drive to Dubai is around 140km but it’s all highway and with petrol at around $1 / litre it’s a fairly quick taxi ride! Unlike Abu Dhabi, Dubai has a great rapid transit rail network making getting around the city a breeze. We did the city tour visiting the main sights including a sand-bashing activity, a rock-rolling 4WD ride over and around sand dunes. Dubai’s shopping malls are inescapable and the massive Dubai Mall is probably one of the largest in the world which includes an aquarium and underwater zoo. The nearby Burj Khalifa – the world’s highest skyscraper at 830m was the perfect structure to produce the most amazing fireworks display that we had ever experienced. And Geoffrey and I have seen a few.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are unique places in the world – unreal cities in the middle of the desert and nothing like you will experience anywhere else on the planet. Certainly a bucket-list destination visit but would we be keen to go back there anytime soon. Probably not.
If you would like more information about this destination please do not hesitate to contact me.