Louvre Abu Dhabi

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

You’ve probably heard of the Louvre  – the famous museum in Paris, France that is home to legendary works such as the Mona Lisa. What you may not know is that on November 8th, 2017, the Louvre opened up a satellite museum in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, as it is known, is the latest offering in the UAE’s arts and culture scene. In this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Where exactly is the Louvre Abu Dhabi located?

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District in Abu Dhabi. Saadiyat Island is a large, low-lying island around 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi. It is about a five-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and a one-hour drive away from Dubai.

How big is the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the largest art museum is the Arabian Peninsula. It spans an area of 24,000 square meters, with approximately 8,000 square meters dedicated specifically to gallery space.

What is the relationship between the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Louvre in Paris?

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a separate museum on its own. However, the two museums are linked by a branding and training agreement that is set to last for the next 30 years. This means that the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be able to take away best management practices from one of the most famous museums on the planet, allowing for any visitor to have a world-class experience.

What can be found at the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

The permanent collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi houses over 600 artworks – not bad for a museum that only opened last month. The works at the museum were specially chosen to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art, thereby celebrating Abu Dhabi’s position in the crossroad of the globe. As a result, the works on display span geographical regions and historical time periods. Visitors can admire Impressionist and Surrealist paintings from famous European painters, as well as historical carvings from ancient China and Iran. Despite this mix, the curators have done a careful job of weaving together a cohesive narrative for visitors. The galleries are arranged by time period and theme, allowing visitors to feel a sense of coherence as they explore.

It is important to note that just because this is not the Paris Louvre, that does not mean the artwork is of a lesser quality. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has invested a significant sum to bring unique works of art to its galleries.

Some of our favorite objects d’art at the museum are:

Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black

A deceptively simple abstract painting by Piet Mondrian, that is made up of horizontal and vertical lines and primary colors. Instead of being bound by the natural form, it is pictorial language at its most simple and free.

Funeral set of Princess Henuttawy –

This 10th century Egyptian funeral set is incredibly well preserved, with the colorful embellishments still visible. You can still see the painted outlines of the princess’s delicate features.

A Young Emir Studying

a 1878 painting by Osman Hamdy Bey of Istanbul. This painting is a great example of cross-cultural artwork as it incorporates a traditional Islamic subject with a hint of the Western painting style.

How much is admission to the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

We recommend purchasing tickets online, to avoid queues when you enter. Tickets to the Louvre Abu Dhabi cost 60 AED. Children between the ages of 13 and 22, as well as students studying at a UAE educational institution, receive half-price tickets. Furthermore, children under the age of 13 can enter for free. If you are disabled, you and one companion can also enter for free.

As an additional note, you can rent an iPad for approximately 20 AED when you enter the museum. This iPad provides you with additional information about the various exhibits and gives you a guide to the 12 galleries. It’s a great way to enhance your experience.

What are the hours of the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is closed on Mondays. On Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, it is open from 10AM to 8PM while on Thursdays and Fridays it is open from 10AMto 10PM.

How long does it take to explore the museum?

You’ll need around two hours just to do the most basic walk-through of the museum. However, as you are likely to want to linger and examine the various pieces of art. We recommend budgeting at least 4 hours to thoroughly enjoy what the museum has to offer.

Does the museum offer parking?

The museum offers free parking. There is also the option of valet parking for 40 AED. If you are not driving, there is a convenient drop-off point at the main entrance that is frequented by taxis.

We are huge fans of museums here at Dubai by Foot. While we love the Dubai Museum that we pass on our Old Dubai tour, we can’t help but be excited for the global offerings of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It’s a big step to cementing the UAE’s status as a premier art destination. And if you’re interested in learning more about art in the UAE, our Dubai Art tour demonstrates the effect these historical influences have on the scene today.

Dubai Pearl Museum

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

In the city of Dubai, there lies a hidden gem – well, technically, an entire trove of them. Tucked away in Deira, in the headquarters of Emirates National Bank, lies the Dubai Pearl Museum. It is a one-of-a-kind attraction celebrating the UAE’s pearl-diving heritage.

Before the oil boom hit the UAE, the area was known for the beautiful natural pearls that could be found in the warm, shallow waters along the coast. Pearl diving and trading represented a huge part of the national economy. Ali Bin Abdullah Al Owais was a pearl trader who hailed from the Al Shamsi tribe of Sharjah. His son, Sultan Ali Al Owais, chose to pursue a career in international banking instead. Furthermore he retained his family’s love for pearls and continued to add to the family collection. Eventually, he donated his collection to the bank where he served as chairman, and so the Pearl Museum was inaugurated.

Where is the Pearl Museum Located?

Today, the Pearl Museum lies on the 15th floor of the Emirates National Bank headquarters. It houses one of the world’s most exquisite collection of saltwater pearls. The display is absolutely stunning and the trip to the museum is worth it just to glimpse that level of luxury.

However, the Pearl Museum does not exist just to show off wealth and splendor. Pearls and pearl diving play a vital role in Dubai’s history and culture, and the Pearl Museum explores the many facets related to that. Some of the interesting facets explored in the museum include:

The Lives Of The Pearl Divers:

The Pearl Museum explores everything from life on the boats (dhows) to the actual diving activity. Such information helps you truly get a feel for what life was like for these divers – both the challenges they faced on the harsh seas and the techniques they used to keep their spirits up. For instance, did you know every pearl diving dhow was staffed with its own musician? Or that pearl divers began their training at the tender age of ten?

The Pearl Economy:

Before the discovery of oil in Dubai, pearls were the most important part of the national economy. The museum describes the business of pearl trading in Dubai, including how the traders made their deals and where the pearls were most frequently exported.

Pearl Quality:

If you’d like to be a connoisseur of pearls, the museum can teach you everything you need to know. You’ll learn how to pick out the most valuable pearls based on their size, weight, shape, color, and luster. You’ll also learn how to tell cultured pearls from genuine seawater pearls.

Pearl Jewelry:

In Dubai, pearls were primarily used as a vehicle for trade. So, they were not always set into necklaces, bracelets or rings. However, pearls are actually well suited for use in jewelry as they can be used ‘as-found’ – there is no need to do any cutting to add shine or luster. The museum is host to some dazzling pieces that show off the luxurious pearls to their best advantage.

How To Get There:

The Pearl Museum is not like other museums in Dubai. There are no set hours of operation. If you want to visit, you can’t just walk up to the front desk at Emirates National Bank and purchase a ticket. Instead, you have to contact the museum in advance and they will arrange a showing for you with a guide. This procedure allows them to ensure the safety of their valuable display, as well as that of the other bank assets.

The Pearl Museum can be contacted through this form. However, the museum prefers to open its doors to small groups of around 8-10 people. If your group doesn’t meet that number, you might try contacting the team at Dubai by Foot and we can work to connect you with others looking to visit the museum. Our tours explore the Old Dubai area where the museum is located quite thoroughly, so we’d be happy to help you get there.

Today, pearls are no longer the bedrock of Dubai’s economy. The growing popularity of cultured pearls combined with Dubai’s oil boom means that their economic importance has faded. However, they are still important from a historical, cultural and aesthetic perspective. This museum is a great way to explore this central part of Dubai’s heritage and marvel at the beauty of these water-dwelling gems.

La Perle By Dragone

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Whether it’s the fabulous fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve or the daily water and light shows at the Dubai Fountain, Dubai is a city that loves a spectacle. That’s why we are so excited about the La Perle show, which is set to be the city’s first resident show. We’ve got all the information for you here:

What is the La Perle show?

The La Perle show was created by Franco Dragone, one of the world’s most celebrated artistic directors. It is a breathtaking live production, featuring 65 artists who perform amazing acrobatic, aquatic and aerial stunts to create a breathtaking stage performance. The storyline was written as a nod to the spirit of Dubai, making the show a great option for a visiting tourist.

Where does the La Perle show take place?

The La Perle show takes place in a specially designed theater. This theater  incorporates state-of-the-art technology and both a dry stage and an aqua stage. The theater seats 1300 people, but only contains 14 rows. This allows every audience member an up-close and intimate view of the performance. The theatrical area is also encircled by 360-degree projection screens for visuals. Furthermore it is embedded with speakers for optimal sound, which creates a truly immersive experience.

The theatre lies in the center of Al Habtoor City, a multi-use luxury development in Dubai that is host to several 5-star hotels. The theatre is easily accessible from Sheikh Zayed Road, close to the Business Bay area.

How much do tickets for the La Perle show cost?

The theatre seats are laid along a 270-degree angle, allowing every seat in the house a nice view of the performers. However, there are certain tiers with the seating. The most luxurious option is to purchase a VIP ticket. Not only are you allowed a spectacular panoramic view, you are provided with lounge-style seating and an individual table with complimentary snacks. The VIP tickets cost AED 1600.

If that’s a bit out of your budget, you can also consider the non-VIP seats. These are offered in Gold (AED 800), Silver (AED 600) and Bronze (AED 400) tickets, depending on the seat’s location. As a note, the first two rows of seats closest to the stage are in the ‘splash zone’, so be aware of that.

The La Perle show also offers an Early Bird special, which provides a 30% discount on Gold, Silver and Bronze seats if purchased more than 30 days in advance.

How often does the La Perle show run?

The La Perle show has 10 shows a week. It runs from Tuesday to Friday at 7:00pm and 9:30pm, and on Saturdays at 4:00pm and 7:00pm. Each performance lasts around 90 minutes. This particular run is meant to go on till December 2018, but other performances are being planned once this run is completed.

Is there parking available?

There are several parking options available:

Free Parking: If you follow the signs for Al Habtoor City Parking, you will find the complimentary parking area. These parking spots are available for a maximum of 3 hours.

Paid Parking: You can also make use of the paid parking in nearby Safa Park

Valet Parking: If you’ve arrived in heels, or if you just don’t want to circle around for a slot, you have the option of valet parking. Valet parking is complimentary for VIP ticket holders, and costs AED 50.00 otherwise.

What’s the dress code to see a show at La Perle?

The dress code is Smart Casual

Can I take photos and video?

Yes! Just be careful to turn your flash off.

Are there dining options available?

There are plentiful fine restaurants in the area, serving Asian, South African, British and Mexican food. There’s also a great selection of lounges, for some pre or post show cocktails. You can see the list of available restaurants here.

The La Perle show is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that captures Dubai creative and innovative spirit. If you’re looking to add some wonder to your trip, the show is a great way to create some unique memories of a spectacular show.

Women’s Museum

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

While the UAE is a conservative country, it would be wrong to assume that it is one that negates the rights of women. On the country, the UAE has worked hard to promote the opportunities and achievements of its female citizens. Women make up two-thirds of government employees and one-third of the country’s cabinet. In fact, Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has said “We are not enabling women, we are enabling the whole society with women”.

One way of doing so is by honoring the achievements of women in the UAE, both in the past and present. That is why Dubai is home to its very own Women’s Museum , dedicated to exploring the lives of women in the UAE. In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Dubai Women’s Museum.

What is the Women’s Museum?

The Women’s Museum is a national archive and documentation center. It is dedicated to exploring the different facets of the lives of Emirati women – professional and personal, past and present. It includes artwork by various female Emirati artists, photographs showing the contributions of Emirati women. Examples of their Emirati jewelry and dresses and an exploration of how past and current rulers have affected the role of women in the UAE.

Who founded the Women’s Museum?

Dr. Rania Obaid Ghubash founded the Women’s Museum. An Emirati woman herself, Dr. Ghubash grew up on the shores of the Dubai Creek. Her mother taught her to value the history and culture of her home country, and this love permeates the museum. It is far from a clinical look at the past, but instead, a loving tribute to a precious lineage of strong Emirati women.

Where is the Women’s Museum located?

The Women’s Museum is located in Deira, by the Gold Souq (close to where Dubai by Foot offers its Old Dubai Tour). The house itself called Bait al Banat, which translates to The Girls House. It was built in the 1950s and was originally a residential home. Here three unmarried Emirati sisters lived – so even the building itself is of historical interest.

The entrance to the Women’s Museum can be tricky to find. When you are walking through the souq, turn left at 45th street. Once you reach the road, turn right and take the third street on the left. On your right, you should see a small sign directing you to the museum. If you’re having difficulty with the directions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the locals and they would be happy to guide you.

What are the hours of the Women’s Museum?

The Women’s Museum is open from Saturday to Thursday, from 10am to 7pm.

How much are tickets to the Women’s Museum?

A ticket to the Women’s Museum costs 20 dirhams.

How long does it take to see the Women’s Museum?

A tour of the Women’s Museum will take approximately 60 – 90 minutes. There are a lot of interesting artifacts on display, but the space itself is not very large so there is not a lot of walking from one exhibit to the next.

Does the Women’s Museum have a giftshop?

Yes, the Women’s Museum is home to the Um Al Duwais Perfume and Gift Shop. Perfume is a very popular amongst women in the Arab World. For one, it is a great way to mask sweat in a country that historically did not have a lot of access to water. For another, perfume was a way for women to ‘decorate’ themselves without having to wear immodest clothes. The Um Al Duwais Perfume and Gift Shop allows visitors to purchase high-quality, traditional Arabian fragrances and oils, making it a souvenir you can savor.

Furthermore, the museum also has its own café. The Banat Bu Ghanem Café is actually a public space, linking the museum to the surrounding Deira community. In addition to traditional eats and rich Arabian coffee, visitors can also purchase artisanal crafts, artwork and jewelry.

What’s the difference between the Women’s Museum and the Dubai Museum?

The Women’s Museum is within walking distance of the Dubai Museum, so it is only natural to wonder whether it makes sense to do both. There are several key differences between the two museums. The Dubai Museum is larger, less expensive, more crowded and covers a broader array of topics. The Women’s Museum is more of a hidden gem, with a specialized focus of women. Unlike the Dubai Museum, the Women’s Museum showcases artwork in addition to artifacts. Furthermore, the Women’s Museum has more of an emphasis on the UAE’s political history. The museum you choose to visit will depend on your personal interests and what you are hoping to get out of your visit.

The UAE works to respect and honor its female citizens. The Women’s Museum is just one way that it does so. It truly is a hidden gem of the city and one of our most frequent recommendations for visitors looking to head somewhere ‘off-the-beaten-track’. We hope you get a chance to visit and learn about the amazing contributions women have made to the UAE.

Basic Information About the UAE

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

UAE Quick Facts : UAE 101

The UAE is a country that you may have heard about before. Perhaps you’ve heard about the staggering skyscrapers in Dubai or heard about the oil-wealth of Abu Dhabi. Yet, you may not be familiar with the varied details of the country. In this post, we’ll give you an overview of the UAE and tell you everything you need to know.

What is the UAE?

The UAE is a small country in the Middle East, spanning 83,600 sq km. The abbreviation ‘UAE’ stands for United Arab Emirates. The term ‘Emirate’ refers to a principality. It comes from the term Emir and specifically references principalities that are ruled by a dynastic Islamic monarch. There are seven emirates in the UAE – Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate has its own monarch, but Abu Dhabi serves as the capital and the Emir of Abu Dhabi serves as President of the UAE.

Flag of the UAE

The UAE’s flag is made up of a red vertical stripe and three horizontal stripes in green, white and black. These colors are traditionally the Pan-Arab colors. Furthermore, the black stands for defeat of enemies, the white for peace and calm, the green for hope and growth and the red for strength and courage.

History of the UAE 

Archaeological findings show that the land of what is now the UAE has been occupied for thousands of years. The people of the region were generally tradesmen, as the UAE has a very strategic location. Because of this, piracy was always a threat. So in the early 19th century, Britain signed a treaty to help protect the area from pirates (this also gave Britain access to the UAE’s strategic location). The different sheikhdoms in the area became collectively known as the Trucial States (from the word ‘treaty’). However, Britain began to feel stretched thin by the responsibility. At around the same time, the Trucial States began to desire freedom from Britain’s influence. On December 2nd 1971, the Trucial States signed an agreement for independence and became known as the United Arab Emirates.

Politics in the UAE

The UAE is an absolute monarchy. The various emirates all have their own emirs, but the Emir of Abu Dhabi serves as President and the Emir of Dubai serves as Prime Minister. These titles of President and Prime Minister are hereditary.

The current president of the UAE is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Emir of Abu Dhabi. He is the son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the country’s founding father who was responsible for uniting the different emirates. After Sheikh Zayed passed away in 2004, Sheikh Khalifa ascended the throne.

The Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai. Sheikh Mohammed is credited with pushing Dubai’s growth to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

The economy of the UAE

 With a GDP of $407.2 billion in 2017, the UAE boasts the second-largest economy in the Arab world (right after the economy of Saudi Arabia). Approximately one-third of the GDP is from oil revenues. The UAE actually has the most diversified economy in the Arab World and the non-hydrocarbon sector is actually growing at a faster rate than the hydrocarbon sector.

Aside from energy, the next biggest contributors to the UAE economy are real estate (around 20%), retail (around 12%) and tourism (around 10%). It’s no wonder when you consider the country’s staggering skyscrapers, massive shopping malls, and multiple tourist attractions.

Demographics of the UAE

The UAE has a population of almost 9.5 million people. The native Emirati population only makes up about 11% of the population- the other 89% is made up expatriates who live and work in the country without obtaining Emirati citizenship. Some of the most common foreign nationalities found among UAE residents are Indians (27%), Pakistanis (12%), Bangladeshis (7%), Filipinos (5%), Iranians (5%) and Egyptians (4%).

The official language of the UAE is Arabic. Thanks to the country’s diverse population, however, you will also hear many other languages being spoken. English, Hindi and Urdu are some of the most common secondary languages in the country. Tourists who can speak English will generally have no issue getting around.

The official religion of the UAE is Islam. It is followed by approximately 75% of the population. Christianity is the next most common religion, at around 9%, with all other religions accounting for approximately 15%.  Of the other religions, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism are the most common. The government follows a policy of tolerance towards other religions, and churches and temples have been built in the UAE. However, people of other religions are strictly expected not to interfere with the Islamic practice of Muslims.

Gender in the UAE

Men far outnumber women in the UAE- there are 2.2 males for every female in the country. This gender imbalance is mainly due to migration – either bachelors looking to earn money in the UAE before settling down, or blue-collar workers who prefer to leave their families in their home country, where the cost of living is often cheaper.

For women who do reside in the region, they still have access to many opportunities. Currently, the UAE is ranked 42nd out of 188 countries as per the Gender Inequality Index. The government has also introduced the UAE Gender Balance Council, aimed at raising that ranking to top 25.

The UAE also places a high priority on women’s education. Women have a 95% literacy rate and they make up 46% of STEM graduates from UAE universities. In the working world, women make up two-thirds of public sector jobs. The UAE is also the first country in the world to make it compulsory for corporations and government agencies to include women on their board of directors.

National Animal of the UAE

Despite the preponderance of camels you may see in artwork around the country, the UAE’s national animal is actually the Arabian oryx. The oryx is a medium-sized antelope with two long, straight horns and a tufted tail. A picture of the orys is printed on the 50-dirham currency note. It has been suggested the white oryx, which in profile can look like it has only one horn, is the basis for the myth of the unicorn.

The national bird of the UAE is the Peregrine falcon or Falco peregrinus. This is due to the cultural importance of falconry among Emiratis in the UAE.

National Dress of the UAE

The national dress of the UAE has evolved to take into account both the desert climate and the cultural norms of modesty. Emirati men generally wear a kandura (also referred to as a thobe), a white long-sleeved, ankle length garment that resembles a loose-fitting robe or a long shirt. It is topped with a cloth headdress called a ghutra, held in place by a black cord called an agal.

 Emirati women traditionally wear an abaya, a thin, black flowing cloak that covers the body. Underneath, they usually wear a dress or jeans in a hue they prefer. They pair the abaya with a hijab, a veil meant to cover their hair, ears and neck. We talk more about traditional Emirati dress here, and also advise tourists on how best to dress.

Currency of the UAE

The UAE currency is called dirhams, abbreviated to AED (for Arab Emirates Dirhams).  Unofficially, you may see abbreviations like DH or Dhs. The dirham is subdivided into fils –  100 fils are equivalent to one dirham.

Coins in the UAE are are generally in the denominations of 1 dirham, 25 fils and 50 fils. Although coins of 1,5 or 10 fils exist, they are not often in use as most prices are rounded to the nearest 25 fils. Banknotes are available in a variety of values and colors – 5 dirhams (brown), 10 dirhams(green), 20 dirhams(light blue), 50 dirhams (purple), 100 dirhams (pink), 200 dirhams (yellowish-brown), 500 dirhams (navy blue) and 1000 dirhams (greenish-blue).

The dirham is pegged to the United States dollar, with 1 US dollar being equivalent to about 3.6725 dirhams.

Airports of the UAE

There are 10 airports in the UAE offering commercial service. One of them is Dubai International Airport, which is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. The other airports in the UAE are Dubai World Central (Al Maktoum International Airport), Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Bateen Executive Airport, Al Ain International Airport, Fujairah International Airport, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, Sharjah International Airport, Dalma Airport and Sir Bani Yas Airport. If you’re visiting Dubai, we recommend coming in via Dubai International Airport, as Dubai World Central Airport is a bit out of the way.

There are a lot of interesting facts about the UAE. The country has rich history and exciting present. Furthermore, we hope this overview has given you a good insight into the country. And if you’re looking to learn more, be sure to check out one of our many tours. Our guides will be happy to tell you everything you may wish to know.

World Records Held By Dubai

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

In Dubai, everything is bigger and better. From the world’s tallest building (the 830 meter Burj Khalifa) to the world’s largest shopping mall by total area (Dubai Mall, at 1,124,000 m2), Dubai is a city that loves to think of challenges and figure out ways to meet or surpass them. Here are the top ten craziest Dubai world records that were listed in the Guinness Book Of World Records.

 

World’s tallest chocolate sculpture | Dubai World Records #1

As Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building, it only makes sense that the world’s largest chocolate sculpture should be a replica of that building. In 2014, Dubai Airport revealed a chocolate replica of the Burj Khalifa that stood at 13.52 meters tall. The sculpture was originally intended to be 17 meters tall, but as it was meant for the 42nd UAE National Day, time constraints meant the intended height had to be reduced.  The project required 500 tonnes of chocolate cubes and took 1050 hours of work to complete.

Highest BASE jump from a building | Dubai World Records #2

 

Courtesy: Redbull.com

Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet achieved this record in April 2014. Naturally, they chose to achieve this record by jumping off the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai. The duo leapt an incredible 2721 feet off of the world’s tallest building. To prepare, they spent time on a Swiss mountain in order to acclimatize to the altitude.

World’s tallest hotel | Dubai World Records #3

As you may know, Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building. But what you may not know is that it is also home to the world’s tallest hotel. The record belongs to the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, which stands at 355.35 m from the ground level to the top of the mast. The hotel itself is actually made up of two towers, each with 77 floors. Both towers are entirely occupied by the hotel. If you’re visiting Dubai, you can see the hotel in Business Bay, on Sheikh Zayed Road.

World’s longest handmade gold chain | Dubai World Records #4

 

One of Dubai’s taglines is “Dubai City of Gold”. The city’s famous gold souk allows shoppers to buy beautiful pieces at bargain prices, making it a popular destination for anyone looking to purchase quality jewelry with authentic craftsmanship.  So, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Dubai Shopping festival, Dubai’s Deira Gold Souk Bus Station played host to a 5km long chain of 22k gold. Known as the Dubai Celebration chain, it weighed close to 240 kilograms and had over 4 million links. The entire chain required 100 crafstmen and it took over 45 days to produce. Afterwards, shoppers were given the opportunity to purchase parts of the chain for themselves.

Most nationalities singing a national anthem together | Dubai World Records #5

 

Dubai is home to a huge expatriate population – 90% of the country’s residents are expatriates. Despite this, these expatriates still maintain their respect and appreciate for their adopted home.  In December 2014, to celebrate the 43rd National Day of the UAE, people of 117 different nationalities got together to sing the UAE’s national anthem.

The nationalities represented were:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo (Rep.), Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

World’s longest painting | Dubai World Records #6

 

The world’s longest painting was created for a good cause. It was made to raise awareness for autism. The entire work of art was painted by children from schools across the country. They were asked to paint a self-portrait, as part of a campaign titled ”I’m different just like you” which was aimed at teaching children to accept the differences in others. Around 20,000 students participated to create the 10,850-meter painting. The painting was so long that, for a flat surface, they needed to use the track of the Dubai Autodrome.

Largest water screen projection | Dubai World Records #7

For a desert city, Dubai sure loves water and water-based attractions. One of its coolest records is that for the largest water screen projection. It involves a 893 m2 light projection displayed on a curtain of 30 water fountains and mist. The 360-degree display, called ‘Stardancer’ also included music, fireworks and dancing, although the record was for the water projection alone. Thousands of Dubai residents showed up to see the record-breaking show. Today, visitors can still see ‘IMAGINE’ shows at Dubai Festival City.

Fastest game of operation | Dubai World Records #8

Have you ever played Operation? It’s a popular board game, wherein players need to remove plastic ‘ailments’ from cavaties in a patients ‘body’, without touching the edge of the cavity opening. It requires an extremely steady hand, and so usually takes quite a lot of time to complete. However, at the Global Village Pavilion in Dubai,the record for the fastest game of operation was achieved. Maharoof Decibels managed to successfully complete the game in only 21.87 seconds.

Longest graffiti scroll | Dubai World Records #9

 

Dubai is a city that loves to mix the modern with the traditional. This record is a great example of that mindset – graffiti, a very trendy form of artwork, was used to tell the story of the history of the UAE. The entire scroll was 2 km long and created in the shape of the UAE. It involved over 100 graffiti artists (including 33 Emirati artists) painting under the theme Rehlatana, or ‘Our Journey’. Some examples of the artwork included are a women in a traditional niqab, looking up towards to the future and an Arabia Nights-esque representation of a towering mosque in the desert. The scroll was kept on display in Jumeirah Beach Park.

Smallest parachute canopy used for a jump | Dubai World Records #10

We talk about how things in Dubai are always bigger and better- however, those aren’t the only sort of records broken in Dubai.  In 2014, Ernesto Gainza fell from 14,000 feet, using a parachute of only 35m2. The average parachute today measures 70-90 m2, making this the smallest parachute canopy used for a jump. The feat was accomplished at Skydive Dubai, a popular sporting attraction in the city.

Records are constantly being made and broken, so it’s likely that this list won’t stay static. Nevertheless, it gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of city Dubai aspires to be – one that strives to be creative and to challenge itself in its quest to make a mark on the world.

Doing Business in Dubai

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Dubai is a country that is very friendly to visitors. It’s great for tourists, as our many walking tours can attest. Doing Business in Dubai is also equally great. Starting up a business in Dubai can be hugely beneficial – you have a prime location in the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, access to a talented workforce and the attraction of working in a country with limited to no taxation. In this post, we’ll give you an overview of what’s involved in setting up a business in the UAE.

What type of company to open for doing business in Dubai ?

There are two main types of businesses that foreign investors and entrepreneurs can set up in Dubai – an LLC or a Freezone

LLC

For small business, an LLC (also referred to as a mainland company) is the most common and the easiest choice. With an LLC, you will only own 49% of the business. The other 51% will be owned by an Emirati national or a company that is wholly owned by Emirati nationals. And yes, Emirati partners are actually required to show their family book, to prove their heritage.

Through an LLC, the foreign investor will have the opportunity to obtain UAE residence visas for themselves, their family members and a certain number of employees.

There are multiple business setup consultancies within the UAE, who help with the paperwork and logistics of setting up a business in the country. These consultancies are often the best way to get connected with an Emirati sponsor. Most of them are likely to already have a list of Emiratis who they work with. In most cases, you will have to pay the Emirati partner an annual fee in return for their sponsorship. This fee will vary based on the sponsor, so feel free to ask around to see where you can find the rate that is right for you. Generally, the partner does not demand a percentage of your company’s profits, nor is he likely to involve himself in your business decisions. So in exchange for paying this annual sponsorship fee, you get 100% of the profits and a silent partner.

Other Requirements to setup an LLC:

Setting up an LLC also requires that you have a physical office. You will need to pay 5% of that space’s market rent to the government as part of your licensing cost, so be sure to factor that in when choosing a space. The office requirement exists even if you plan to work virtually from home. If that’s the case for you, a consultancy can help you find an appropriate office space to lease, in order to meet the licensing requirements.

We also recommend taking some time to fully think through the name of your LLC. There are certain rules you’ll need to follow. The name cannot reference God/Allah, cannot be obscene and cannot include parts of existing brand names. The name also needs to reflect the company’s business activity. So you can’t just choose a generic name. For instance, if you start a contracting company, the name will need to be along the lines of “‘XYZ’ Contracting”. Additionally, including certain words in your trade name, like ‘Emirates’, ‘Gulf’, ‘East’, ‘West’ or ‘International’ will lead to an additional license charge, so make sure you’re willing to pay that.

Is there a minimum capitol requirement to setup an LLC?

There is no minimum capital requirement to set up an LLC. However, there are costs associated with the initial set up of an LLC company. This number can vary drastically based on a variety of factors, including the name you choose, the rent of your office space, the agreement you make with your local sponsor, whether you are working with a business set-up consultancy and even the type of activity you are getting a license for. As an example, setting up an LLC to carry out General Trading could cost approximately AED 30,000, but it could be half that for a different business activity. In general, incorporating an LLC takes about 4-6 weeks.

Free Zone

Instead of setting up an LLC, foreign entrepreneurs also have the option of setting up a company in one of the UAE’s designated Free Zones. A Free Zone company is often an attractive option for foreign entrepreneurs. This is so because it does not require partnering with an Emirati sponsor. You can own 100% of your business. Through setting up a Free Zone company, you also have the option of obtaining residence visas for yourself, your family and a certain number of employees.

The Free Zones have a special tax, customs and imports regime. They are governed by their own framework of regulations (with the exception of UAE criminal law). Companies set up in a Free Zone receive 100% import and export tax exemptions, so this is a great option for any business involving the movement of goods in and out of the UAE. These companies also receive corporate tax exemption for up to 50 years.

There are more than 37 different Free Zones in the UAE, including some that are currently under construction. Each Free Zone centers on one or more particular business industries. If you want to set up a business in a particular Free Zone, your business activity needs to match the industry of that Free Zone.

Some of the most popular Free Zones are:

DMCC – Dubai Multi Commodities Centre – This is the UAE’s largest and fastest-growing Free Zone. It focuses on the trading of commodities like gold, diamonds, pearls and tea. Furthermore it also offers licenses for businesses trading in other goods.

DAFZ – Dubai Airport Free Zone – This Free Zone offers three types of licenses – Trade (imports, exports, storage and distribution of goods), Service and Industry (light industrial activities, packaging and assembling).

DIFC – Dubai International Financial Center – This Free Zone focuses on banking, financial services, insurance, and wealth and asset management.

DSO – Dubai Silicon Oasis – This Free Zone focuses on companies operating in the tech space, including IT, telecom, engineering, software, biotech and green energy. Consulting companies can also operate here.

D3 – Dubai Design District – This is a trendy Free Zone dedicated to the design community, both established brands and start-ups.

Dubai Internet City – This Free Zone is for companies operating in the ICT space. Companies like Microsoft and Oracle have set up in this Free Zone.

twofour54 – Located in Abu Dhabi, this Free Zone is aimed at companies operating in the media space. It includes television, print and public relations companies.

Masdar City – This is another Free Zone located in Abu Dhabi. Its focus is on companies operating in the renewable energy space. Interestingly, the entire city was designed to run on solar power, making it a one of a kind spot.

Choosing the Right Freezone:

Choosing the right Free Zone company is important. The minimum capital requirement of your Free Zone company will depend on which Free Zone you choose. Setting up in twofour54, for instance, requires no capital requirement. On the other hand DMCC requires AED 50,000 per company and AED 10,000 per shareholder. Additionally, the name you can choose, the set up fees you have to pay and the time needed for incorporation will all depend on the Free Zone.

Dubai by Foot can help you get the lay of the land as you are deciding whether to launch your business in the UAE. If you contact us, we can arrange a private tour showing you some of your mainland and Free Zone options, to help you make the right decision for yourself and your business.

Marsa Al Seef – The Creek Dubai

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There’s a new cultural hotspot in Dubai! Marsa al Seef !

Marsa Al Seef, which stretches 1.8km along the Dubai Creek, has just opened its first phase to the public. The area borders the Al Fahidi Historical District. This a region of Dubai that’s very close to us here at Dubai by Foot. In fact, it’s the site of our most popular walking tour, which is our Old Dubai Tour. Furthermore, we use our tour as a chance to look at Dubai’s past and contextualize the Dubai that we see in the present.

Marsa Al Seef was designed along the same lines. The area has a strong cultural and historical component. Furthermore, there are galleries that sell Emirati artwork and boutiques where one can admire traditional dress. Visitors to the area will also have a chance to see examples of traditional Emirati occupations like pearl diving, fishing and boat building. The surrounding area has been designed with an interconnected waterway system. This allows visitors to also have the chance to glide across the water on wooden dhows, just as Dubai’s first traders once did. It’s like having a touch of Venice in the Middle East.

Further nods to the city’s past are also in the pipeline. The next phase of the project is set to incorporate an authentic souk. These souqs will be based off of the ones present in Dubai in the 1950s. The open-air market will be a chance for visitors to browse and purchase a variety of hand-made goods. Furthermore it will soon become a popular destination for tourists looking to bring home authentic, original souvenirs.

What to look out for in Marsa Al Seef?

Beyond this homage to the city’s past,  Al Seef has also been designed to fit into the city’s current image as a cosmopolitan hub. Along the waterfront promenade, one will find a selection of retail stores and cafés. Some of the options already open include a Lebanese-American restaurant (great for kebabs and dips like humuus), a high-end Italian gelato shop, and a homegrown community coffee house. When the project is complete, the area will be home to over 500 shops, galleries and eateries. Some of the restaurants in Al Seef are even being designed as floating restaurants. This will allow them to take advantage of the waterways surrounding the area. Another cool aspect of these waterways – if people want to avoid congestion on the roads, they can choose to arrive via water taxi, or even their own private yacht!

For visitors to Dubai, Al Seef’s cross-section of the old and new elements of the city make it a great place to stay. It offers the chance to truly experience the different aspects of the city. Luckily, there are to be three hotels in the district. Two of the hotels will be modern in design, and located in the more contemporary area of the district. The other hotel, however, will be a heritage hotel, located on the historical side and incorporating authentic Arabian hospitality.

Who is he developer for Marsa Al Seef?

The Al Seef district is being developed by Meraas. Their previous developments include The Beach at JBR and Citywalk. With that pedigree, Al Seef is set to be a top destination for anyone who wants to enjoy shopping, dining and entertainment in a unique and stylish locale.

Now that phase one is open, we recommend heading on out to experience what the location has to offer. And if you’ve finished one of our walking tours of the neighboring Al Fahidi District, we might just head over to Al Seef with you!

Famous Places to Visit in the UAE

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When people think of the UAE, they automatically think of Dubai – the skyscrapers, the hotels, the shopping malls, the souqs. It is easy to forget that Dubai is just one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE – and that it’s easy for visitors to Dubai to make a trip to any one of these emirates in order to see these amazing attractions outside Dubai. After you have gone on a tour of Dubai, why not look further and see what the other emirates have to offer?

Here, we offer a list of some of the best attractions outside Dubai in the UAE:

Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.  Furthermore, it is one of the world’s largest mosques and features over 1000 domes, the world’s largest hand-knitted carpet and one of the world’s largest chandeliers. The entire surrounding area is breathtaking as well, as the mosque is surrounded by reflective pools that add to the site’s peace and beauty. We recommend checking out the 5pm sunset tour. If you arrive at 4:30, you’ll have a chance to take some gorgeous photos at dusk, before the tour starts.

Check out our guide to mosque dress codes here.

Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace is a hotel, but it has also become a landmark in its own right. It is beautifully designed, with the building’s colors chosen to reflect the different shades of sand found in the Arabian Desert. The sense of luxury is prevalent in the building’s interiors, with gold, mother of pearl and crystal all incorporated. Whether you want to marvel at the shimmering chandeliers, wander the lush gardens, witness the unique evening lighting scheme or take tea in one of the cafés, the Emirates Palace is a great place to bask in true luxury and hospitality.

Ferrari World

Yes, this is a Ferrari themed amusement park. It is located on Yas Island, in Abu Dhabi. furthermore, this park is home to the world’s fastest roller-coaster, Formula Rossa, which reaches 100 km/hr in only two seconds. It’s so fast, riders are required to wear safety goggles! Beyond the thrilling racing rides, there are also more sedate options, including virtual history tours, educational movies and driving simulators. There’s even the option to do some shopping and pick up some Ferrari branded merchandise to take home. It’s a great option if you are looking for something fun to do in Abu Dhabi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a 24,000 sq km museum, set to open in November of 2017. It is part of collaboration with the famous Louvre in Paris, so art lovers can expect a similar level of quality to be on display. In particular, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will focus on bridging the divide between Eastern and Western art. We don’t have the final list of the museum’s catalogue yet, but it has been confirmed to include works by Da Vinci, Matisse, Van Gogh and Monet.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, which will be home to various other museums and cultural attractions as well. Furthermore, it’s shaping up to be a great visiting spot for tourists interested in arts and culture.

Jebel Hafeet

 Jebel Hafeet is one of the highest mountain peaks within the UAE. It’s known for the incredible fossil discoveries that have been made in the area. Over 500 ancient burial tombs, dating back over 5000 years, have been found in the foothills of this mountain. This mountain is a popular tourist site because it is relatively easy for visitors to access by car or even bicycle. Onece you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views.

Sharjah

Sharjah Arts Museum

With the Louvre Abu Dhabi about to open up, some might wonder why they should visit the Sharjah Arts Museum. However, this state-of the-art facility has a rich collection of works that would be of interest to any art aficionado. The collection is spread over 72 galleries. What makes it particularly unique is the museum’s focus on art that reflects the Arab World. You’ll find 18th century paintings done by travellers to the Middle East, representing the foreign perspective of the land. And you’ll also find contemporary artwork by local artists, showing how they see their homeland. The Sharjah Arts Museum is a great way to remember the breadth of perspective in art and is one of the must visit attractions outside Dubai.

Central Market

The Sharjah Central Market is a shopping center known for the wide variety of merchandise on display. The upper floors have a souq-like atmosphere, selling carpets, gold, perfumes and other exotic offerings.  The market also sells cotemporary merchandise like toys and electronics. The exterior of the central market is quite eye-catching on its own. It’s done up with intricately patterned blue tiles, earning it the colloquial name of the Blue Souk.

Fujairah

Al Bidyah Mosque

 The Al Bidyah mosque is not as glamorous as some of the other mosques in the area; in fact, it is actually made out of mud bricks. This mosque is the oldest one in the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a great insight into what early worship looked like in the country. The area surrounding this mosque was revealed to have a massive Islamic graveyard, including a tomb with artifacts dating back to 1000 BC.

Heritage Village

 The Heritage Village of Fujairah shows what life was like in the ancient times of Fujairah. Here, you’ll find models of traditional homes and examples of ancient tools that will show you what early life was like in this desert city. The Heritage Village is also near the Fujairah Fort, which is the oldest fort in the UAE. In addition to being a place of defense, this fort was also once home to the ruling family, which certainly makes it a point of interest for anyone who wishes to experience more of the UAE’s history. And if you’d like to know more, Fujairah Museum is located just to the south, and showcases ancient weaponry from the Silver and Bronze Age.

Ras Al Khaimah

Hajar Mountains

Hajar Mountains are a beautiful mountain range in the eastern part of the UAE. It is the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula. Furthermore, it is home to stunning vistas, winding trails and charming villages, making it a great spot for a road trip. The area is home to a variety of flora and fauna as well, so it is a great place to do some hiking and bird watching. There is plenty of different scenery on offer, from craggy mountain faces to picturesque wadis. If you’re an adventurous tourist looking to explore, this mountain range should definitely be on your list.

Conclusion

The UAE is a fascinating country. There’s something interesting to see, do or explore in every corner. We hope you found this list of attractions outside Dubai to be helpful. Furthermore, we hope they show you a well-rounded view of all the UAE has to offer.

If you would like to visit any of these amazing sites which lie outside Dubai, feel free to email us for a private tour.

Dhow Cruise on the Marina

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What is a Dhow?

A Dhow is a traditional Arab sea-trading vessel usually made of durable wood. Dhows have been innate part of the Emirati history. The trade of pearls, spices and gold were the largest sources of income for the UAE for many years in the past. When in Dubai, you can see that traditional dhows are still sailing into the Dubai Creek. They trade spices and textiles with Iran and other neighboring countries in the Gulf region. They are often parked on the Diera side of the Dubai Creek in Old Dubai and can be seen up close on our Old Dubai Walking Tour.

In Dubai, you can experience a Dhow from the inside, on an orchestrated Dhow Cruise on the Dubai Marina. The Dhow is parked in the waters of the Dubai Marina which is lined on both sides with some of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. The Dhow itself sparkles with lights in the dark as it slowly treads the quite waters. If you are into night-time photography, there are some very good photo opportunities on this cruise.

Dhow Cruise Dubai Marina General Itinerary:

The Dhow has a capacity of 200 guests. The Dhow Cruise features a buffet dinner as well. After being picked up from your hotel, you are brought to the JBR end of the Dubai Marina to board the Dhow. Typically the Dhow sails around 8:30PM but these times change subject to weather and the Holy month of Ramadan. When on the Dhow you are seated along with other guests and offered a soft drink and some snacks. The lower deck of the Dhow is fully air-conditioned and hence comfortable for guests throughout the year.

 

After the Dhow sails, the buffet dinner opens. Also there are live performances such as Tanoura dance. The sail time is usually 90 minutes to 2 hours. The dinner is usually Indian food with some selections of Arabic cuisine. The Dhow is a pleasant experience for those who are looking for an evening activity in Dubai. It allows people to wind-down, chill out and look out at the lovely Dubai skyline.

While Dhow Cruise on the Marina is a popular tourist activity in Dubai, in the past, it has received mixed reviews from guests. While the sail times are pre-determined, sometimes the Dhow is delayed in its start time. There is no live commentary or guided tour when on the Dhow. Therefore sometimes it is difficult to learn about the route, or the buildings and attractions built on the Dubai Marina.

What is the Best Time to Go on a Dhow Cruise?

The Dhow experience can be most enjoyable if you are in a large private group of your own. It is also best suited in the prime winter weather of December through February. During these months you can stand out on the upper deck and soak in the views in the cool Dubai breeze.