Ramadanicious

Today was our last day in Dubai before leaving for Europe!

We walked again towards the old part of town. By pure luck we found the Bastakiya Quarter, established at the end of the 19th century by well-to-do textile and pearl traders from Bastak, Iran, its labyrinthine lanes are lined with restored merchant’s houses, art galleries, cafés, and boutique hotels. Most of the places were closed for Ramadan, but we managed to take a look at some of them that were opened.

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In the 1980s half of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood village was destroyed to make way for the development of a new office complex. The remaining houses were mostly used as warehouses or accommodation for foreign laborers. In 1989 Dubai Municipality directed that the remaining parts of Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood were to be demolished. But, Prince Charles, when visiting Dubai explored the whole area and suggested that the Neighborhood should be preserved and the demolition was canceled.

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This is hipster Dubai! one of the galleries we were able to visit had amazing middle eastern artist’s exhibitions. From paintings to sculptures; you can enjoy a coffee or an overpriced sandwich in the restaurant inside.

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This amazing wall sculpture casts a shadow when pointing a light from the floor. Creative!

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You can still see the remaining of the Old City Wall. Constructed in 1800 from gypsum and coral, the defensive wall surrounded the old town of Bur Dubai, which included Al Fahidifort and the old Grand Mosque.

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We then took an Abra, these small taxi boats are used by locals to cross the creek for the cheap price of 1 Dhiram. They run quite frequently so we didn’t have a problem finding one to take us. The other option to cross the river is by metro, but we wanted to do it the old fashioned way.

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We stopped where the gold and spice souks are located. The spice market was nice but nothing we haven’t seen before in Asia. It was definitely cleaner and more organized and nobody bothers you, which make the visit more enjoyable.

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The gold souk is basically a street full of jewelry, nothing really to see here. By some estimates, approximately 10 tons of gold is present at any given time in the souk.

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The Iftar or “breaking the fast” is a typical dinner on the month of Ramadan where everybody eats like there is no tomorrow after fasting all day. Most restaurants here offer discounts and buffet dinners for around $20-$40 per person. We have liked the restaurant next to the hotel so we went there as a last dinner to enjoy what was probably the best buffet we have ever seen. It was an all you can eat gourmet Lebanese, Greek and Arab foods!

They don’t let you start until the end of the Ramadan prayer which is exactly at 7:00 pm. I could swear those 10 minutes were the longest 10 minutes of my life.

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The manager at the restaurant asked us if it was our first time fasting, but we understood if he was asking if this was our first time here. So we answered “yes!”. The guy asked us immediately if we were Muslims as in why in hell would you fast if you were not a Muslim. That’s were we processed what his original question was, but we didn’t want to be rude so we just said we are fasting for respect since we were in a Muslim country. Little did he know, that if I could, I would have finished 3 plates before any prayer could be said. The manager was treating us like royalty and kept bringing us food to try. It was most likely the best meal of the trip.

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We headed to the airport for our 1:00 am flight. The metro takes you directly there without any hassle (I love cities that have efficient public transportation, not like LA). We spent some time at the lounge and got ready to move to the first world part of the trip.

While we were waiting to leave the Emirates, the sad reality sank in. Only about 13% of the people currently living in UAE are its citizens (Emiratis); The rest 87% are foreigners. In our 8 days in here, our interaction with Emiratis was almost non-existent, which was very bizarre as part of visiting a country is learning from the locals. In this case we just have to accept that visiting the Emirates will not give you a cultural enlightenment, it is just a place to show the most ridiculous things money can buy.

Bonus Pic Of The Day: The Dirham is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The name Dirham derives from the Greek word Drachmae, literally meaning “handful”, through Latin. Due to centuries of old trade and usage of the currency, Dirham survived through the Ottoman Empire. The Dirham is pegged to the dollar. That means, that always the conversion to one dollar is equal to Dh3.672, or at least that’s the direct response to anyone asking about any day’s exchange rate as it does not change.

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