Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Hatta Mountains

The Hatta Mountains, originally uploaded by !efatima.

In the foothills of the majestic Hajjar mountains, Hatta is a comfortable resort, ideal for a weekend getaway. The historic Hatta fort overlooks the town. The area is a much frequented picnic spot, and is about one hour drive from Dubai.

Shawarma Anyone?

Shawarma Anyone?, originally uploaded by !efatima.

Shawarma (also spelled shwarma, schwarma or shoarma) is a Middle Eastern dish of fine ribbons of spicy lamb meat, similar to Greek gyros, Turkish döner kebab and Mexican taco al pastor.

It is flavored with vinegar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It is served in pita bread and covered in a sauce such as tahini (or tahina), garlic mayonnaise (commonly found in Europe), or a chili sauce. Vegetables commonly found in shwarma include onion, tomato, lettuce, pickled turnips and cabbage.

It is sometimes available made from chicken or beef instead of lamb. Turkey is also occasionally used, depending on the establishment. Some stores use hot dog buns but most have pita bread, some have both allowing a choice. It is very often served with a plate of French Fries, or sometimes the fries are put inside the pita instead.

It is common for restaurants that serve shwarma to have a slab of meat rotating on a skewer with animal fat and onion or tomato at the top for flavoring. It is then roasted from all sides (see vertical rotisserie) and cut right before serving.

(Do check here too)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Dirham

One, originally uploaded by Curlylocks.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dubai Info Bits

Area: The total area of Dubai is approximately 2,428 sq miles.

History: The seven independent emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah came together to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the year 1971. While Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE, Dubai remains its commercial centre.

Location: Dubai is located on the Eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, in the South West corner of the Arabian Gulf.

Weather: Dubai enjoys(?) 365 days of warm sunshine, with cooler evenings and occasional showers in the months between November to March.

Climate: The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate with infrequent and irregular rainfall, amounting to less than 13 centimetres a year. Temperatures range from a low of 10 degrees (Celsius) to a high of 48 degrees. The average daily maximum is 24 degrees in January, rising to 42 degrees in July.

Time zone: The UAE is 4 hours ahead of GMT (+4 GMT)

Population: Dubai is home to a little less than 1 million residents with 79% of the population employed.

Transport: Dubai offers a variety of inexpensive and efficient public transportation and you can choose between metered local taxis, intra-city and inter-city buses, private car hire services and abras (local boats).

Economy: The UAE is one of the world's wealthiest countries, with a GDP of US $54 billion (2000), and has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world. While oil and gas production form its foundation, Dubai is increasingly broadening its economic activity to include: real estate, tourism, trading and manufacturing.

Cultural mix: Owing to the resources and foreign enterprises located in Dubai, more than 80% of the population are expatriates from across the globe and the city is home to almost 200 nationalities


Dubai is an exciting year round destination that offers unlimited opportunities for rest and recreation, be it a walk through a lush green family park, an adventurous day in the waters of the Arabian Gulf, or a pampering session at one of the many health spas.

Beaches: Some of Dubai's beaches are attached to private hotels, where, for a small fee, you can spend the day on the sand and in the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Other beaches and waterfronts - the Corniche and the Creek - are free for public access, and feature a range of water sports offered by several operators.

Fishing: The warmth and shelter of the Gulf attract a large variety of fish, and several local companies provide full and half day trips to the best fishing waters about 12 kms offshore from the mainland.

Golf: Dubai has the unique distinction of being the only golfing centre in the world to host major international tournaments on both the European and Asian PGA circuits. Visiting golfers can choose from various clubs and courses, each of championship quality and presenting a different type of challenge.

Treatments and therapies: Dubai is home to an extraordinary number of spas and wellness clinics, ranging from internationally renowned brands to ancient Chinese and Indian holistic treatments. The new upcoming Dubai Healthcare City includes the world's renowned wellness clinics.

Local Facts & Figures

Alcohol: While alcohol is served at restaurants mostly located in hotels, it can also be purchased at the Arrival Duty Free store in Dubai International Airport or with a special permit valid for non-Muslim residents only. Dubai operates a zero tolerance policy to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Currency and credit cards: The official currency of the UAE is the Arab Emirates Dirham (AED or Dhs). Each Dirham is divided into 100 fils and is held constant against the US Dollar at an average of 3.67. All banks operate from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, Saturday through Wednesday and 8.00 am to 12.00 noon on Thursdays. Currency exchange houses are open until late in the evening. All international credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Currency Converter

Dress code: Visitors are free to dress according to their personal choice. Dress sensibly, without wearing too much revealing clothes in public places or places of worship. Shorts and skirts are acceptable for ladies. Most Emirati men and women still choose to wear the traditional national dress. Lightweight summer clothing can be worn for most of the year, but the temperature can drop quite sharply at night during the winter.

Electricity: The standard electricity supply is 220/240 volts. American appliances may need a transformer.

Hospitality: Dubai is extremely well known for its warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage, and the Emirati people are welcoming and generous in their approach to visitors.

Languages: While Arabic is the official language, English is very widely spoken, especially in business. Given the large size of the expatriate population, several other languages are also used in everyday life, headed by Hindi, Urdu and Farsi.

Photography: Photography of buildings and sights is widely acceptable. Local people, especially the women, do not take kindly to being photographed without their prior permission. In general, it is best to avoid taking photographs (or video footage) of any individual in a National Dress.

Safety and security: Dubai is a very safe city for visitors and residents alike, with minimal chances of untoward events. However, locking your car and minding your personal belongings is always recommended.

Visa regulations: Travellers holding passports with a right of residence in the following countries can get a visa on arrival at Dubai International Airport - a visit visa valid for 60 days is stamped directly in your passport by immigration officials:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, GCC Countries, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Vatican City

Desert Safaris

With Might and Zest He Blazed, originally uploaded by Ziko.

One of Dubai's most popular tourist attractions is the desert safari: a unique experience that combines an adventurous 4WD car ride over sand dunes with camels, belly dancers, henna designers, falconers, and a barbecue dinner by starlight. Other attractions include sand skiing, sand boarding, sand karting and 4WD desert driving

Best Buys & Bargains

Dubai is a veritable shopper's paradise! Whether it is for gold, electronics, carpets, spices, textiles or more.

The city is home to some of the Middle East region's most prestigious shopping malls, boutiques and department stores that house retailers of haute couture, hi-tech electronics, home furnishings and accessories or traditional Arabic crafts. Dubai is famous for offering top international brands at unbelievably reasonable prices.

The larger shopping mall complexes also house cinema theatres, food courts, entertainment centres and play areas for children, allowing for complete family shopping experiences.

Choose to browse through the older markets and the narrow walkways located in the Meena Bazaar, Karama and Naif areas, dedicated to inexpensive reproductions of international brands; leather goods and textiles; computer and electrical accessories and Arabic perfumes.

Most shopping venues and cultural destinations sell a range of gifts and souvenirs representing Dubai: The Seven Sands of the UAE, traditional Bedouin jewellery, sand art, packaged dates and date products, Arabic sweets, wooden crafts and palm leaf handicrafts

Emarati Girls

Emarati Girls, originally uploaded by !efatima.

22-24 karat gold is very popular in the Emirates. Young girls are usually dressed in the traditional gown and are adorned with gold jewelry on festive occasions.

The city is one of the largest retail gold markets in the world, selling everything from ingots to intricately hand crafted jewellery, and bargaining is welcomed almost everywhere. The Gold Souk area in Deira has glittering street-front stores and hides dozens of alleys housing smaller shops. The newly built Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road is an attraction for serious jewellery shoppers.

Places of Interest

The city of Dubai embraces its namesake creek, dividing it into two halves. The main sightseeing circuit in Dubai is split between Bur Dubai and Deira which lie on opposite sides of the water, and the gently curving Dubai Creek is an attraction in itself. You will have plenty of opportunities for some brilliant views of the city from the water: gleaming skyscrapers on one side, and old trading dhows on the other.

Deira's many attractions include the historic quarter of Bastakia, as well as old souks and covered marketplaces. Wandering along the alleys, you can explore the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. The Dubai Museum is housed within the beautifully restored Al Fahidi Fort, and is a must-see for first time visitors to Dubai. Built in 1799 to defend the city against invasion, it has served as both palace and prison and the museum's collection includes life-size figures and galleries depicting Arab houses, mosques, date gardens, desert and marine life.

On the Bur Dubai side, Heritage Village, located in the Shindagah area, is a family destination where you can watch potters, weavers and artisans at their crafts. The adjoining Diving Village offers a cultural microcosm of pearl diving and fishing. Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, a museum restored from the house of Dubai's former ruler and dating back to the late 1800s, is within the same complex. With its unusual layered rooms and authentic wind towers, Sheikh Saeed's House showcases regional architecture at its best.

If you drive west from the city centre, you will reach the popular suburb of Jumeirah, home to some of Dubai's finest luxury hotels and resorts, unspoilt stretches of sunny beaches and water sports complexes. In Jumeirah is the Grand Mosque, re-built in 1998, with the city's tallest minaret, nine large domes and 45 small domes - a distinguished landmark and an important place of worship.

About 115 kms south east of Dubai, in the heart of the rocky Hatta Mountains, is the 3000 year old Hatta Village, an important historical site for the region. The two towers overlooking the village used to be defence fortresses against hostile invaders, and during a relaxed day at the Village, you can visit the Houses of Traditional Handicrafts and Palm Products, The Castle Centre, and the 200 year old Sharia Mosque.

Folk Dance

Folk Dance, originally uploaded by !efatima.

The Emirates possesses a rich history of both bedu and townspeople. The most authentic and popular cultural expression for both has always been the traditional dances which were a special feature of festivals, national holidays, weddings and even casual gatherings of friends. This unique art form weaves together dance and poetry and is a celebration of the national spirit.

The dance is organised with formations of men facing each other, who take turns reciting stirring poetry while brandishing swords. Pacing the dance and the songs are traditional drums and tambourines. The formation of participants can also include a separate section of women who in their turn recite and dance to praise the victory.

The variety of traditional dances in the United Arab Emirates demonstrates that the country possesses a great richness of heritage. The rapid modernization of the nation does indeed threaten its traditions, but anyone who has witnessed the spontaneous and spirited traditional dances at local gatherings will know that the unique cultural heritage of the Emirates will be preserved by its proud custodians.

Cooking Traditionally

Makin it Traditionally, originally uploaded by !efatima.

This women is wearing "sheilah" on her head to cover her hair. On her face she wearing "Burga" which is originally women used to protect their mouth against the sand when they used to live in tents in the desert. It has became a tradition and many women still wear them especially the older generation .

The woman is frying a traditional sweet called " gaimat " which is later covered with sugar syrup or honey.

This was the humble beginning the Emirates had... women were homemakers but now the women in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have come a long way.

Me and Ziko are looking forward to givng Babasteve a full day of traditional/cultural tour the next time he visits Dubai and oh! a camel ride to striatic too ;).

heck! we will be more than happy to be guides for any flickr member who would love to visit Dubai :)