No Ordinary Day!

“No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities.” – Sheik Zayed

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Today I sat in a cozy coffee shop with Rocket’s sister (who was visiting from the United States) reminiscing  on the fun we had the past weekend. December 2, was National Day in the United Arab Emirates. For all of my American friends, think Fourth of July, but instead of celebrating almost 250 years of existence, the UAE is celebrating only 46 years as a union and going from mostly desert:

Camel Crossing
Camels cross the road with the Dubai World Trade Center in the background during the early years in Dubai.
Dubai in the 1980s
The Dubai World Trade Center , completed in 1979 was the first tower in Dubai and tallest in the Middle East at the time.

TO THIS:

The Changing Dubai Skyline
This is a more recent picture of the Dubai Skyline with the Dubai World Trade Center in the front.

In less than 50 years!

National Day is a grand celebration, and this year coincided with other holidays resulting in a 4 day long weekend. With Rocket’s sister visiting and our cousins that live in Dubai, we had big aspirations to camp on the beach in Musandam and take a boat out to watch dolphins. However, due to last minute planning and Oman being a popular destination during the long weekend, everything was booked by the time we tried to make reservations.

Although initially disappointed, we were determined to not let this be an ordinary weekend. There’s always a lot to do in and around Dubai, and we ended up thoroughly enjoying activities around town and in Abu Dhabi that you should try whether visiting or living in Dubai:

 

Desert Horseback Riding

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Although I’m still looking for a good place to take regular riding lessons, Rocket, our family, and I really enjoyed waking up early to take a sunrise ride in the desert. I would definitely recommend either a horse or camel ride in the desert while visiting Dubai.

 

Kayaking in Abu Dhabi Mangroves

Kayaking in the Abu Dhabi mangroves

Even though this was my first time kayaking by myself and it was very awkward in the beginning, I was determined to find a good rhythm! This was such an amazing experience for all of us as we learned fun facts about the native mangroves and wildlife in Abu Dhabi. Next time we plan on camping there!

 

Kite Beach / City Walk

We all enjoyed a nice stroll around City Walk and the beach before having dinner with friends nearby and dessert at Home Bakery (the milk cake is amazing). At Kite Beach, there was a spectacular art display of over 3,000 flags in honor of National Day. 

 

Grand Mosque

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Although Rocket and I have been several times with guests, this time we opted to do a guided tour for the first time. It was interesting to learn about the 82 domes all decorated differently and the special precautions taken while planning to ensure that the marble would withstand high summer temperatures. There are spaces initially left between the slabs to allow for expansion in the summer.

 

Camel Racing

Camel Race
Camels mid race at the Al Marmoom Camel Racetrack.

To find out more information about the races, check out my previous post Just Smile and Run! This time we attended the evening session and enjoyed the opportunity to ride with the camera crew as they raced around the track filming the last two races. 

 

Global Village

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Walking around Global Village at night. 

Every year vendors from all over the world come to Dubai to sell their local products. The village has pavilions that are decorated to reflect different countries and regions. Global village has food and rides as well, so if you decide to visit, plan for a minimum of 2 hours.

 

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