Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dubai and Sharjah: The Abbreviated Reader's Digest Edition

Emma Slaymaker
University of Sharjah, UAE

Time flies and it doesn't while I'm many timezones away from home. I feel like I've been here for at least a month now just because of how much stuff I have been doing. It hasn't quite been a month yet, but at the same time I'm shocked that three weeks have already passed by. Starting class has made things feel like they're passing quicker.

Like I said, I have been doing a lot of stuff, but really, I've barely even seen the tip of the iceberg. That's a term I doubt anyone here is familiar with... The point is, I have only been exploring Sharjah and Dubai so far.

You can see how close they are to each other. Sharjah is a big emirate. It is the only emirate that has coastline on the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. 

A bit of interesting trivia, depending on who you are around or where you are in the Middle East, you will refer to The Gulf as either the Arabian Gulf or the Persian Gulf. It's safest just to call it The Gulf. 

Anyway, I have seen a lot of Dubai, and some of Sharjah. Both are beautiful cities, but Sharjah is known for its museums and culture while Dubai is known for luxury and nightlife. Again, I will post pictures instead of trying to describe in words everything that I've seen and done. 


At the Dubai Mall there is a parking area at the main entrance of the mall called fashion parking. It is specifically for really fancy cars. There's valet parking even though the parking spaces are just along the sidewalk. This was my favorite car that I saw that night. It's a custom blue convertible Rolls-Royce probably worth more than my college education. 

Inside the mall there are more stores than any avid shopper could ever dream of - even designer stores for little, spoiled, but well dressed children. This is Baby Dior. I also saw a Burberry filled with children's clothing. While my friends and I were exploring the designer section of the mall, which is called Fashion Avenue, we searched for the most expensive items we could find.
Here's what we came up with: 
Porsche Designs pen: $4,619.57 (AED 17,000)
Hermes saddle: $13,043.48 (AED 48,000)
Chanel dress: $26,000 (AED 96,000)

This is Mike the camel who we met on a Wednesday (exciting if you've seen the obnoxious GEICO commercial). He was in a little pin close to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai. We had a wonderful breakfast there... seriously the best food I've had here so far. I didn't get any pictures there, but of course I got one of a camel... The Cultural Center guide told us (the IXO students) about the culture in the UAE and some misunderstandings that Americans have. He encouraged us to ask a lot of questions. It was really fascinating and insightful. I'll post a link incase anyone is interested in checking it out instead of trying to reiterate everything I heard.

We took a one dirham boat ride over the Dubai Creek to the Herb and Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. A souk is a traditional market place where you walk down a gauntlet of shops while all the shop keepers try to finagle you into buying something. It's actually a lot of fun. You can haggle with them to see how low you can get the price. I bought a ring at a souk in Sharjah, and got the price down from 20dhs to 10dhs.

This is a picture from the Gold Souk. It was like walking through Eldorado. If I were a financially savvy person, I would have invested in lots of gold over here and sold it for a profit when I return to the US. Gold is cheap in the UAE, comparatively at least.

And this is the Burj, the tallest building in the world, which was pictured in my last blog post. I haven't actually been to it yet, but it's on my list. 


This is a Persian mosque. You can tell because of the tile detail. It was next to a place we (IXO students) stopped at to get some cheesy bread much like quesadillas. It was only a dirham (about 25 cents) for a piece bigger than your face. 

This is the Blue Souk in Sharjah. We didn't explore it too extensively, but it's pretty! We did go to the exotic birds and animals market, the fish market, and a produce souk. I don't think those were a part of the Blue Souk. The exotic birds and animals market was exciting, but a little sad because the living conditions for the animals were poor. We saw peacocks, falcons, grey parrots, turtles, roosters, fish, rodents, but my favorite were the cats. They were normal, domestic house cats, but I loved them. 

This is the Sharjah skyline next to The Gulf. 

The Eye of the Emirates is a famous ferris wheel just like the Eye of London. It costs something like 35dhs to ride. 

We fit seven people in one little pod. 
It got really hot and stuffy in there really fast (I lifted this picture off of my friend's Facebook).

We walked around Sharjah for the lights festival. This is just one of many mosques that were lit up by hovering drone projectors. The patterns changed on them. It was a lot like President Snow's estate in The Hunger Games Catching Fire... you know what I'm talking about? Well, I didn't think that was something that could be done in real life, but I saw a lot of buildings that night that looked like 3D kaleidoscopes.

Everything I've seen so far is just like an abbreviated version of everything there actually is to see, and this post is an even more abbreviated version of that. It's slightly overwhelming, but I look forward to exploring even more. So much to see, so much to blog!