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Published: February 5th 2014
The United Arab Emirates are an intriguing travel destination, and up till now I had only ever stopped off in various airports while in transit to Europe. The UAE is ideally situated as a connecting base to the world, and the capital of the seven Emirates is Abu Dhabi. My flight home from Bahrain was already booked with Etihad, the world's leading airline based out of Abu Dhabi. However, when a fellow travel blogger messaged to say that he was currently in the city, I jumped at the opportunity to spend a day with him in impressive Abu Dhabi. I scrambled to have my flight changed out of Bahrain, and jetted out of the island country in the morning for a full day to explore the city before a late evening flight home. There is a lot of wealth in Abu Dhabi which emanates primarily from the powerful energy sector, but the seven Emirates are rapidly diversifying and modernising their economies with a focus on the services industry, to ensure a post oil boom economy that is stable and viable into the future.
The journal left off, dear reader, at the conclusion of the fabulous Discover Bahrain program and we
celebrated in style on the final night after the presentations and dinner had concluded. It's only a forty five minute flight from Manama to Abu Dhabi, and next morning the plane was less than half full for the journey. The airport is very efficient and I was through customs and reunited with my baggage in no time at all. I made my way to an airport hotel, knocked on the door number specified, and there I was face to face with The Travel Camel for the first time in my life. Shane is a legend in the community and a travel blog institution. It seems like we've been corresponding forever, but our paths had never crossed prior to today. We have come close during our travels over the years, but our long awaited first meeting was destined to happen here in Abu Dhabi.
The plan for the day was to head out to Ferrari Word, the largest indoor theme park in the world. After chatting comfortably in Shane's well appointed room, we headed out and hailed a cab to Yas Island, home to both the theme park and the Yas Marina Circuit for Formula One drivers. The road enters
an underwater tunnel and comes out soon after on the island, where the infrastructure and resources in building the island as a world class tourist destination are quite stunning. We arrived at the entrance to the massive theme park, and headed inside gleefully like a pair of schoolboys. There is something about cars, and Ferraris in particular, that really stirs the blood of your average men folk, and tends to bring out the inner caveman lurking within us males.
The entrance fee is reasonably steep at 240 dirhams (which is around $80) but when you consider what is on offer a visit can take up the better part of a day and is worth the cost. Ferrari World is home to the world's fastest roller coaster, which rockets down the track like an exocet missile from launch to reach speeds of 240kmh. There is a viewing platform that attracts big crowds in itself, and we marvelled at the crazy screaming riders as they were catapulted and pulled around the track while pulling outrageous g-forces. The queues were up to an hour, and to be honest I was too chicken anyway and concerned about airborne projectiles. We settled instead for
a spin on the more tame roller coaster, which was still rollicking good fun.
There's so many more attractions at Ferrari World, it's like being a kid in a candy store. There were 3D rides that simulate falling off cliffs and all kinds of rad adventures, a seat you strap into and get slammed around a virtual Formula One track in a a Ferrari, a wild and crazy water ride, tame rides about the history of Ferrari, and exhibition rooms with Ferraris through the decades that attracted glammed up Russian girls pulling model poses in front of the sexy machines. I even raced The Travel Camel around the track on small scale model cars, they had to be Ferraris of course.
We took a breather while enjoying a superb pasta, and were sure to tweet each other including the Ferrari world handle. Our adventure culminated in the chance of a lifetime for this petrol head, and management gave me free access to sit in a Ferrari Formula One car with a professional photographer making me look like 'Tom Shoemaker' as a friend kindly described me on Facebook. What an excellent day we had, and Shane and I chatted
the whole while about our passion for travel, and the wonderful opportunity we have been given to share our passion through this world class website, TravelBlog. Long may you continue to rule Ali and the team!
I'm buzzing from the rare opportunity I've been given in this latest trip. I never expected my love of travel to translate into a commercial proposition, yet as I see The Travel Camel going from strength to strength on TB, Social Media and through his public speaking opportunities, a whole new world of potential seems to be opening up before my eyes. Thanks to all the fabulous people I've had the pleasure of spending time with over the last fortnight, and a special thanks to the true believers like Ali, Shane and Jo who work tirelessly to keep TravelBlog at the front of the travel blog pack. As I enter my ninth year as a member, now more the ever I can say TB is the world's friendliest travel community!
I can't wait to get back to the UAE, a modern, progressive and highly developed country in the Arabian Gulf. The Emirates leaders have their eye on the ball and are doing
all they can to transform their economies to a post oil world and, basically all of you should be here now!
"Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure." Aldous Huxley
It's home time, so until next time I'm signing off for now
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