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Published: January 31st 2020
UAE is a country made of 7 Emirates (states) ruled by Princes from different tribes. The oil discovered in the 70s promoted fast infrastructure and building booms. ‘Locals’ are only 12% of the population but hold all the richness through inheritance. They are provided with free education, free medical plus a house, a luxury car and a steady income upon marriage. All benefits are forfeited if married outside the group. The rest of UAE are immigrant workers mostly from India, Pakistan, Egypt and Philippines. They do all the work but are required to reapply for a visa every 2-3 years even if born in the country. Their education and medical are provided by the companies they work for. Life is not easy but still better than in their own countries.
Even though the oil was the original source of UAE’s development, the present day commerce comes from global transportation. The luxury life style attracts wealthy people worldwide and turns it into the Disney World for adults.
We took a day tour to Abu Dhabi, the largest state and the capital of UAE and an hour drive from Dubai. The president of the country is always selected from the ruling
family of Abu Dhabi and the prime minister from family of Dubai.
Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque is the world’s 4th largest and is where the founding father is buried. It has 7 chandeliers weighing 7-12 tons made of millions of Swarovski crystals. The place was magnificent but packed full of tourists and I felt rushed through and not able to enjoy it. Downtown Abu Dhabi has many modern buildings that were featured in shows like the ‘Sex and Cities’ and the ‘Fast and Furious’
We had more time to enjoy the Presidential Palace which just opened to the public in July 2019. This is the government working complex and contains some very ornate rooms. The center dome was constructed with white granite and sandstone and featured four mirrors in star shape. As quilters, Laura and I saw beautiful patterns for quilts from ceiling to floor. In one of the wing stood this intricate carved gold globe written in Arabic calligraphy with a quote from founding father Sultan Al Nahyan ” Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in people, and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve
Our 2nd day started early heading to the desert outside of Dubai. Laura wants an intimate experience with desert so we rode a Quad (ATV) in the sand for an hour. It was adventurous and fun. A camel ride, a picture with a falcon and an Arabian coffee and sweet dates completed our package.
Using Uber we got a ride to the Miracle Garden - a Disney like theme park totally built with petunias and sun flowers. It’s a very different and unique garden. Right next to it is a butterfly garden where we spent a couple quite and relaxing hours there.
Back to downtown for a tour of the wold tallest building Burj Khalifa (2717 ft). At the top we had a panoramic view of Dubai. Experimenting with the new selfie stick, I managed to take several pictures to show the height compared with surrounding buildings. Burj Khalifa is the center of a mixed use complex that include 30,000 homes, nine hotels, and a 30 acre artificial lake surrounded by 19 residential skyscrapers. The Dubai Mall next door has 1200 shops, an indoor aquarium, waterfall and countless attractions. It’s in full swing of Chinese
New Year promotional sales because Chinese are big spenders here. The food court has all the major American fast foods but we enjoyed some delicious grilled shrimps and lamb. 48 hours in UAE only gave us a glance at a world where the water is more expensive than oil and money changes the desert into a playground for the world millionaires!
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