Starting off the blog with some awesome news - my brother made it happen and has announced that he is going to be a father.
Congratulations Arn!! Very excited for you!
Just a quick update on our Dubai trip we took for the long weekend (Saudi National Day).
Dubai is a 1 hour flight for us from Khobar (Dammam airport) or an 8 hour drive. We've heard that it is the "Las Vegas of the Middle East". It has amazing, huge, 'over-the-top' buildings for sure and a TON of tourist activities but it is very expensive. A lunch of pizza, sandwich, and drinks came to close to $130US. A bucket of 4 beers was $55US (and these were regular-sized cans). Next time it will be duty free pool-side fill up for us for sure.
There also appears to be no rules with following Muslim traditions, as hotels can decide what they want to do...
For example, our hotel served no pork! They served booze (expensive) but you couldn't drink it in the pool. It had to be on the edge of the pool. If any alcohol spilled in the water, they would have to drain the pool.
Other hotels (the ones we will stay at next time) have pork (yay bacon!) and have swim up bars and a bit wilder pools (with DJ's)!
Oh well...one of those things we now know to research. Live & learn!
Here's a bit of info on Dubai:
- 15 years ago it was a small fishing village until a vision became a reality
- 2.2 million population (80% are expats)
- there are people from over 200 countries living in Dubai
- 85% of all Expats are Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan) - many working in the construction of buildings!
- 1.7 million men, 500K women - good odds for you ladies!!
- World's #1 airport for international passengers with 74.3 million in 2015 (rising almost 10% annually)
- 4.8 visitors annually per resident (#1 in the world, #2 is Amsterdam at 2.6)
- Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping mall with 750,000 visitors per week
- they are still building - 1 of 4 cranes on Earth is located in Dubai
- a 45 minute drive to Abu Dhabi
- Many projects are underway as part of Vision 2020, since they are hosting Expo 2020. They are adding to their impressive attractions and want to make it a "one-stop vacation place" with plans to add a Legoland (opening soon), a full animal safari, a replica Eiffel Tower, a replica London Eye called the "Dubai Eye" that will be the world's largest ferris wheel, a canal like Venice, theme parks, and MANY more (just google them).
We arrived and cabbed to our hotel to check in, then cabbed to the Dubai Mall for some shopping and to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa - here are some stats on this spectacle:
The trip up this beast was freaky - scary, intimidating music as you walk to the elevator. A very fast elevator to the top, and an incredible view of the skyscrapers, fountains, and ocean around it. Lisa's heart was racing and almost broke the heart monitor on her fitbit. $150 each, some shaky legs, and a few photos later, we were on our way down to do some shopping!
The malls, besides being HUGE, offer some cool things - amusement parks, ice skating rinks, aquariums where you can scuba dive and go in tanks with sharks. They even have a ski hill in the Mall of the Emirates.
We went back to enjoy the pool and beach (and cold cocktails) at our hotel the Sofitel Palm Resort - this thing is crazy! 6 pools, many restaurants, and set up like a Caribbean resort. We were next to the Atlantis Hotel , which is like the famous one in the Bahamas with a large waterpark.
Oh ya, Lisa didn't make it past 7PM...must've been the fear from the Burj Khalifa, right??
Saturday morning we did a really cool Desert Adventure. They picked us up and drove 45 minutes to get into the desert.
1st stop - a camel farm. Got to see hundreds of camels, including 2 proud mommas who had babies that morning. It takes a few hours for a baby camel to stand and we got to see one stand for the very first time! Very cool! It was almost as wobbly as Lisa the previous night!
Then we got to ride a camel around. They are tall and have a funny smell!
A few interesting facts about camels:
- Arabian camels only have one hump, Asian camels have 2
- Arabian camels don't spit at you
- they can drink over 130L of water at a time, it can last for up to 50 days
- they can smell water 8-9 miles away and can walk for over 12 hours per day, which is why the nomadic Arabs would love riding them or even walking with them in the desert
- they can actually run up to 65 miles per hour (they have camel races in Dubai and in Saudi!)
- camel meat and milk is popular within the Arab countries. Their milk is said to increase fertility, which is why many parents have 7+ children. 'Desert Viagra' I guess??
- drivers need to be careful - if you hit a camel and provided you are one of the 10% of drivers who survive, you will be hit with a very hefty fee. The camel owner can claim charges of whatever they want. They justify it with how the camel produces many babies, milk, etc. The owner says you need to pay an amount and there is no way around it, you need to pay. It can be up to $1million US but the common amount is $300K...provided you survive the accident. Yikes!
2nd stop - we went quadding in the desert. This was AWESOME! Very cool experience to drive through the sand dunes and up & down the hills. VERY easy to get stuck if you don't know what you're doing. And you need LOTS of water!
3rd stop - sandboarding. This is just like snowboarding but down the sand dunes. Very fun. Jeff sucked, Lisa didn't. Climbing the sand hill was a bitch though, as it is very soft, and very steep! Maybe not making it to the bottom was Advantage Jeff!
Had to empty half the desert out of our shoes before leaving!!
Back to the hotel for afternoon & evening cocktails at the pool and beach! Woke up for some more pool time before flying home Sunday afternoon.
Dubai airport is a monster. Shopping everywhere! Not sure if we've ever seen a duty free selection like this place. Not that it matters when flying into Saudi!
Enjoy the pics and the jaywalking camel video!
OK everyone, that's it for now.
Next blog update is coming the last week of October once we return from Greece.
Canadian friends - stay warm! Those of you hitting the Alan Doyle show this weekend, we are jealous! Have fun!
American friends - 320 million people and Trump/Clinton are the best you could come up with?? Good luck!
T&A Members - the list keeps growing...as of today, 21 adults/4 kids for February's T&A Dominican Invasion Trip!
Robb & Michelle - our thoughts, prayers, and best wishes go out to you!! Hoping for the best!
Talk soon everyone! Cheers, J&L
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa