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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
February 1st 2023
Published: February 2nd 2023
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We take two days to sail to Abu Dhabi. We use the gym and I do chairasize to attempt to keep off the pounds from the lovely food we gorge on..The entertainment is very good.

As we sail into Abu Dhabi we get the news that the rate of Covid infection in the ship is higher than the medical crew are happy with. So we are all “asked” to wear masks in public areas, wash hands etc and the crew will deep clean the vessel. Good luck with that, it is huge and with a myriad of surfaces. As long as we don’t become a plague ship refused entry to port after port we’ll manage.

Anyway, next stop Abu Dhabi. It is the capital and second largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast.

We take the Cunard shuttle bus to a large mall and spend several hours mooching around. It is more expensive here than in the UK. We decided not to do an organised trip as we were here a few years ago and visited the cultural sites. In all honesty there really is not much here in terms of interest beyond the truly spectacular Grand Mosque (which we have seen previously). The ‘historic village’ is a modern reconstruction of what the village of Abu Dhabi looked like before the struck oil. (We’d seen that before as well).

There was one interesting thing in the mall which was new to us both. A completely robotic ice cream vending stand. A humanoid robot greets you and tells you what to do. You select the ice cream you want on a display screen, toppings etc. A robotic arm with a scoop dispenses the ice cream into a tub. A final robot serves the tub onto a plate you can reach and hey presto you have your ice cream. All the food is in sealed containers and I suspect the chances of contamination is much reduced.

Back on the ship we had a good run at the quizzes, winning two more. So far we have won 11 since the start of the voyage, that means 8 bottles of wine and three sets of prize stickers for redemption at the end of the journey.

Sailing over night we wake up in Dubai. Dubai is the most populated city in the UAE. It was established in the 18th century as a small fishing village but grew rapidly in the 21st century with a focus on tourism and luxury. It has the second highest number of 5 star hotels in the world.( First is London!). It also has the tallest building in the world the Burj Khalifa at 828 metres.

We are here for two days. Again Cunard are running a shuttle bus to a mall, but we want to go further afield so buy 48hr tickets for the hop on hop off bus.

We essentially get a guided tour of the city with the opportunity to get off at various places. As with Abu Dhabi we have done many of the highlights already but there are still options. The Dubai Frame is new as is the Future Museum. Both are architecturally special and we want to see them both.

We get off the bus in the old part of the city, which we had not seen before. This particular part specialises in textiles and I’d like to see what is available. We are the only white faces in the souk and the traders are keen for us to see their spices, pashminas and assorted trinkets. But it is the textile retailers I want.

We find several and in one I find a range of fabrics which are unusual and relatively speaking good value. During our perusal I disturb a display and 20 - 30 rolls of fabric fall all over the shop. The traders are very kind but they must have been fuming. Anyway I select one material and buy 3 metres at a cost of £10. I reckon it would have been that price per metre at home. When we come to pay of course they don’t take plastic or dollars. We have to scurry off to a local bank and draw out £25 worth of Diram (the least you can draw is 100 Diram) to complete the purchase. I think they were a little surprised that we came back. We then decide to go back to the ship, as we are getting on the bus a little old lady asks Ian if we are going back to the ship. He says yes and she says will follow him. Then another elderly couple get on the bus asking if this bus goes to the ship and the first old lady says to ‘just follow thaIan. He feels very responsible for them. The bus takes ages because of the traffic but we eventually arrive at the ship and the ladies are very grateful to Ian.

We are going back out to meet my cousin Vicki on the Mall of Emirates. She has lived in Dubai for 17 years so it is useful to get her thoughts on Dubai. She loves living here and has a very good lifestyle. we talk about the cost of living crisis back home and that has not effected the in Dubai.Petrol is cheap and she says it costs about £20-£25 to fill her car a 3.5 litre BMW. It would be a lot more at home. She also tells us that she has her petrol delivered! Yes , delivered to your home. There is an app that you request the petrol and all you need to do is leav your petrol cap open and they fill it up and money is paid via the app.

The next day we go to the Miracle Gardens. They are very surreal, millions of flowers in the desert made into an Emirates 380 jet, huge horses heads, a Smurf village and all other manner of floral sculptures. (Giant penguins anyone?) They use mainly petunias and sunflowers. After this we travel to the Dubai mall to see the biggest indoor aquarium in the world. It is truly amazing being three stories high, with hundreds of fish including sharks and stingrays amongst a wide variety of other fish. There are also people scuba diving inside the Aquarium. We look around the shops but it is mainly designer shops outside our budget! There are some stores that no longer exist in the UK such as Debenhams, Mothercare and the Early Learning Centre.

It’s time to return to the ship. We were last in Dubai six years ago and we have noticed a few differences. When we were last here most of the men and women were in traditional dress, men in long white robes and women in long black dresses with their faces covered. Nearly all the cars were white and the traffic was a lot lighter. It seems a lot more westernised. It is still amazingly clean with no graffiti or rubbish anywhere. The people are so friendly and helpful.

sorry for some reason I am unable to upload pictures. They are on my Facebook account. I will keep trying


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