Playground of the Emirates

Just a few words on the vacation portion of our trip. We stopped in Dubai for 2 ½ days on our way home from Bangladesh and had a great time. For those of you who have no idea where this is, google it! You will see some of the most unbelievable pictures and display of wealth. Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates, a small country along the Persian Gulf, close to Saudi Arabia. I suppose in some way it’s like the Vegas of the Middle East, except without all the gambling and “sin” associations. Everything in this city is over the top. They have the Burj Al Arab, world’s only seven star hotel (shaped like a sail—see pictures), where rooms start at $1500/nt. They are building the Burj Dubai, which will be the world’s tallest building. They ran out of coastline and so are building islands of the coast in the shape of palm trees, Arabic letters, and one developer is making islands in the shape of the world—continents and all. AND they have an indoor ski resort inside the largest mall outside North America, with ski lifts and a black diamond run. Crazy.

We stayed at a really nice hotel near the old portion of the city, with markets and a creek that small wooden boats need to ferry you across. And from there we also explored the fancy modern part of the city with the malls and hotels and such. We also took a day trip to the capitol of the UAE, about 90 minutes away, Abu Dhabi! Mostly just to say we had done it…like going to Timbuktu, or any other place Garfield tried to mail Nermal in the Garfield comic strips. The highlight of our stay was probably a desert safari we took on our last night. We took a 4 wheel drive vehicle out into the Arabian desert a few hours before sunset and our guide took us off-roading over tons of sand dunes. It was exhilarating, and also spectacularly beautiful. Right around sunset we stopped at a “Bedouin camp” (not really) and got to ride a camel, watch the sun set over dunes, drink Arabian coffee and eat dates, get henna tattoos, smoke the shisha pipe (or bubbly pipe, or hookah, whatever), and try on traditional outfits. Look, we converted! Just kidding. And finally there was a huge Arabian BBQ with traditional meats and food which we ate while sitting on pillows and carpets.

The only downside to our trip was that Ramadan was going on, which means not only do people not eat during sunny hours, but the restaurants are not open during this time, and tourists are expected to respect Ramadan by not eating or drinking in public. This was a bit of a surprise to us, and we actually spent one lunch time in a handicapped public bathroom with the door locked, eating Lebanese food from a small shop in a food court that happened to be open…but we couldn’t eat it in public!


Anonymous said...

Hey, welcome back from your trip. I know that God used you both to minister to people physically and spiritually. I'm also glad you had a great time with new foods and different experiences.

Paul Billington
(Eric's old youth pastor)