Top 10 Places to Visit in Muscat

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

A vacation or cruise to Oman is a popular getaway for those living in Dubai. In particular, Oman’s capital, Muscat, has a variety of attractions, from glorious mosques to fascinating museums to tranquil beaches. In this post, we’ll go over the top 10 places to visit in Muscat.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

This stunning mosque is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Muscat. It lives up to its royal name. The chandelier is plated with 24 carat gold and made with over 600,000 Swarovski crystals. Further more, the Persian carpet is one of the largest in the world. The entire building is massive, capable of hosting up to 20,000 worshippers, and the walls are adorned with intricate mosaic designs. This is one of the few mosques in the city that welcome non-Muslims to enter and tour. The mosque is open to tourists from Saturday to Thursday, from 8:00 to 11:00.

The Royal Opera House

Seeing an opera is always a grand cultural event. But the splendour of Muscat’s royal opera house makes it well worth a visit just to see the beautiful building. The Royal Opera house is the leading arts and culture center in Oman. The style of the building pays homage to Eastern, Islamic and Western influences, in a nod to the different cultural events hosted here. The building also makes use of clever methods of sound projection, to ensure a vivid concert experience. For only 3 OMR, visitors can book a tour of the building to learn all about its construction.  You’ll also get a chance to admire the Opera House’s collection of instruments, which spans across different decades and regions.

Bait Al Zubair

This is a private museum, funded by the prominent Zubair family of Oman. This local heritage infuses the museum’s collection – in fact, many of the artefacts on display are from the family’s private compilation. Some of the items on display include ancient weaponry, fabulous jewellery, historic stamps, household implements and traditional costumes. Outside of the museum, there is a garden that features an Omani village, a souk, a boat display and a traditional water distribution system. Getting to wander around this environment truly helps visitors immerse themselves in the traditional Omani way of life.

Qurum Beach

This is a quiet, charming beach in Muscat that’s great for a day of relaxation under the sun. It’s very easily accessible and boasts golden sands and crystal clear water. One of the main advantages of this beach is the tranquillity – it’s not excessively crowded, which allows for a peaceful visit. However, there are still opportunities for a bit of excitement, via the nearby cafés and restaurants.

Wadi Al Arbaeen

Technically speaking, this wadi is about 90 minutes outside of Muscat. However, it is well worth the trip. The oasis is a real treasure, with fresh water, craggy rock formations, singing birds and local plant life. You’ll need a minimum of three hours to explore the area, and longer if you really want to take it in. It’s a great way to see Oman beyond the sandy dunes and intricate architecture.

Amouage Perfumery

This perfume factory is not some harsh workhouse with cold machines. Here, the perfumes are the works of craftsmen and visitors can examine the delicate individual scent components that go into making some of the world’s most luxurious perfumes. Those on a tour have the opportunity to take home free samples, but anyone looking to purchase a proper bottle better have their wallet ready-  these high-end perfumes can be quite dear. Perfumes are a huge part of Arabian culture, used to mask the sweat from the sun and provide allure for someone modestly covered up. Further more, learning more about Arabian perfumes provides insight into Muscat from a unique point of view.

Ghalya’s Modern Museum of Art

Interestingly, this is not a modern art museum in the traditional sense. There is a section of the museum dedicated to modern art as we currently understand the term. But the bulk of the museum is about exploring Oman’s past, particularly between the years of 1950 and 1975. The museum reconstructs what a house would have looked like during that time period. It shows an authentic layout featuring a majlis, women’s room, child’s room, kitchen and guest room. The artefacts within are also authentic to the time period, so visitors can really feel like that they have stepped backwards in time and have been invited to the home of an Omani gentleman. The museum is open Saturday to Thursday from 9.30am to 6pm, and the entrance fee is only OMR 1.

Mutrah Corniche

This lovely corniche is perfect for a leisurely walk or bike ride. The softly-lit buildings along the shore, with their latticed windows, make for a perfect backdrop.  For most visitors, however, the corniche’s greatest attraction is its souq, which sells wares from all over the world and brings to mind the traditional Arabian bazaars. One can find antiques, textiles, hardware and jewellery in the stalls and haggling for a better deal is simply part of doing business there. Further more, it is a  great place for a tourist to find souvenirs.

Sultan’s Palace

The Sultan’s Palace, or Al Alam Palace, is the ceremonial home of the Sultan, which he uses to welcome state dignitaries. The building is certainly eye-catching, with tall trumpet-shaped pillars painted in gold and turquoise. The interior of the palace is not open to the public, but the grounds are beautiful enough to compensate. The entire area is home to government buildings, many of which have unique architectural features that are interesting in their own right. The Ministry of Finance, for example, boasts a set of beautiful carved doors painted with phrases from the Quran.

Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque 

The Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque is a relatively new addition to Muscat – it opened in 2014. However, it can proudly take its place as one of the city’s most beautiful mosques. It is especially spectacular at night, as the domes are light up to resemble golden-hued crowns on top of the building. It’s definitely worth making a trip at dusk to take a photo. Further more, if you want to see the interior of the mosque, you’ll need to make the trip in the morning, sometime between 8:00 and 11:00.

 

There’s a lot to see in Muscat, even for someone who is coming from Dubai. The city has its own unique charms that make the city special. We hope you’ve found our guide to Muscat helpful. Should you ever stop by, whether via a cruise, a drive or stopover, make sure to visit the unique heritage and nature spots of this great city ~the top 10 places to visit in Muscat.

Top Oman Dubai Cruises

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

We love the UAE – it’s why our tours in the Middle East first launched here. However, we know that the Arabian Gulf plays host to a variety of beautiful places. One of our favourites is Oman, which boasts beautiful beaches, stunning mountains and ancient history. Oman is reachable from Dubai by air and road, but if you’re looking for luxury and adventure, our favourite way to get there is via sea. In this post, we’ll go over the top Oman Dubai cruises.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is a family-owned company that has been operating for 45 years. They have a proud Mediterranean heritage and offer many cruises in that region. They bring this Mediterranean warmth to their Middle Eastern cruise as well. The stops on this 7-day cruise include Abu Dhabi, UAE; Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE; Muscat, Oman; Khasab, Oman and Dubai, UAE.

The cruise takes place on the MSC Splendida, a 138,000 tons ship that can welcome over 4000 passengers. In keeping with the UAE’s focus on clean energy, the ship boasts a variety of environmentally friendly technologies. The ship also promises great entertainment, with live music, a disco, a casino and a theatre.  If you’d prefer a more tranquil way to unwind, there is a relaxing spa offering massages, a sauna, a Turkish bath and the latest in advanced beauty treatments. The food is fantastic, ranging from authentic Mediterranean to trendy Tex-Mex. And to burn off the calories, you can make use of the state-of-the-art gym. The squash court or one of the four swimming pools can also be used by guests.

Costa Cruise

Costa Cruises is an Italian cruise line that offers a 7-day cruise with stops in the UAE and in Oman. This cruise is particularly noted for its excellent dining options, as the various restaurants pay homage to the company’s parent company of Italy. Whether it’s fine dining or a pizzeria, you can enjoy world-class cuisine from chef Bruno Barbieri, who boasts 7 stars to his name. 

Costa Cruises is great for anyone who worries about possibly getting bored upon the ship. If you’re a sports fanatic, there are various sports pitches that allow for team sports. The ship has its own on-board shops if you’re a shopaholic and if you enjoy a spectacle, the ship hosts its theatre shows. If you love to dance, you’ll find that the ship has its own themed parties and discos. And if you just want to relax, the ship’s wellness centre offers a steam bath, sauna, Jacuzzi and hot stone massage.

Azmara Cruises

The Amzara Cruise is for those who would prefer a longer voyage, visiting more than two countries. The Azmara Voyage lasts for 17 days. There are stops in various Middle Eastern cities, including both Muscat and Salalah in Oman.

Azmara Cruise ships offer a variety of entertainment options for the guests on board. The guests can enjoy top-notch dining that pairs gourmet courses with specially chosen wines. They can improve their photography skills and memorialize their trip with a visit to The Photo Shop. They can even join the glamorous ship-wide ‘White Party’, where they can wear their finest white clothes, sip champagne and dance the night away. 

This cruise in particular is focused on helping its guests connect with its cities of port. For one, the chefs make use of the on-shore visits to gather local ingredients, so authentic meals reflect the local flavours. The ship’s Destination Immersion menu incorporates these local delicacies, letting guests bring the taste of their ports of call on-board the ship.  Not to mention, the ship offers enrichment programs and classes that give you extra information about the various ports of call – it’ a great way to learn about the history and attractions of these cities, allowing you to take advantage of your stops.

Celebrity Constellation Cruises

The Celebrity Constellation Cruise is a 15-night tour of the Arabian Sea and Suez Canal. It departs from Abu Dhabi and whose stops include Oman, Jordan and Greece.

Celebrity Constellation Cruises offers a variety of luxurious rooms. The Suites come with a private butler service and fresh flowers, the Aqua Class rooms offer a personal spa concierge and pillow menu. Concierge Class rooms offer special destination seminars and a daily delivery of afternoon savouries. The entertainment options on the ship are plentiful, including live music and magicians. The incredible shows are what make this cruise truly stand out – you can watch ballroom dancing competitions, kid-friendly musicals and adults-only fairy-tale shows. Truly, it’s a cruise that will help you feel like a star. No wonder it is a Top Oman Dubai cruise!

There is a great variety of cruises that take you from the UAE to Oman. You can enjoy fine sea air, luxurious accommodations and unique entertainment while getting a chance to visit some of the most beautiful and historic locations by the Arabian Sea. We hope you get a chance to try one out and enjoy sun, sand and sail.

La Mer Dubai

Posted by & filed under Dubai, Uncategorized.

Dubai’s sparkling waters and golden sands make it the perfect destination for anyone hoping for a luxurious beach vacation. Knowing this, the a new development has come up in Dubai – La Mer. La Mer Dubai is a new beachfront development aimed at letting visitors to enjoy the city’s beautiful beaches. In this post, we’ll tell you what
you need to know about La Mer Dubai.

What is La Mer?
La Mer is a beachfront development project by Meraas. Basically, it is a collection of walkways, shops, restaurants and entertainment areas clustered by one of Dubai’s beautiful beaches.

Where is La Mer located?

La Mer Dubai is located in the Jumeirah 1 neighborhood, between Pearl Jumeirah and
Jumeirah Bay. The entire area stretches out over 13.4 million square feet in space
and is divided into three zones – La Mer North, La Mer South and The Wharf.
La Mer’s location is quite advantageous. Not only does it run along Dubai’s beautiful
coastline, it’s also close to major Dubai attractions like Etihad Museum and the
Dubai Water Canal, making it an attractive spot for tourists seeking a place to
unwind after a day of sightseeing.

How do I get to La Mer?
If you would like to take public transport to La Mer Dubai, RTA buses 9 and 88 will take you there. Some hotels also offer complimentary shuttle services to La Mer, so make sure to inquire about that at the hotel you are staying in.
If you would prefer to drive, valet parking is available for AED 50. There is also the option of making use of the public parking – there are over 1,100 spaces available, including underground parking spots.

 

What is the design of La Mer like?
The aesthetic of La Mer Dubai takes its inspiration from the various flotsam and jetsam one finds in and around the sea – pieces of wood, scraps of rusted metal and the like. Using these materials as inspiration, the designers have created charming structures along the coast that blend in beautifully with the aesthetic of their surroundings.

Which parts of La Mer are open?
As of this time, only La Mer North and La Mer South are open, with The Wharf being set to open as part of a later phase 2 of the development. Not to fear, however – the current development has over 130 shops and restaurants open, so you can still head on over today and enjoy a great time.

What are some of the restaurants at La Mer?
Of the many options currently available at La Mer, some of our favorites are:

I Scream for Ice Cream: There’s nothing better than a cold cone on a hot day. I Scream offers funky twists on the beachside classic, great for when you need
something more impressive than a plain vanilla soft serve.

O’Doner: Kebabs are a classic Middle Eastern comfort food and this urban restaurant offers delicious Turkish kebabs and grills in a stylish and contemporary atmosphere.

Roti Rollers: This restaurant is great example of East meets West. You can customize your sandwich with your own choice of bread, kebab, sauce and toppings– and your options hail from all over the world, allowing for a very multicultural dining experience.

What entertainment options are currently available at La Mer?

One of La Mer’s coolest entertainment options is Hawa Hawa, an inflatable playground. Inspired by a Japanese concept, the playground consists of inflatable dunes and peaks designed for people to bounce up, down and around on. It’s open to adults and children, so could be great fun for the entire family. There are also some other exciting offers in the pipeline, including a cinema and a state-of- the-art waterpark.

We’re very excited about this new offering along the Dubai coast. Since the weather is so wonderful at this time of year, we recommend you pay the place a visit and enjoy the beautiful sunshine, eye-catching architecture and delicious snacks that La Mer has to offer.

Top Tips for Flying to Dubai

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

When budgeting for a vacation, the cost of flights usually makes up a significant portion of the expenses. However, there are ways to help reduce those costs and make flying cheaper. If you plan on flying to Dubai, here are some helpful tips to reduce the ticket price you pay.

Tips for flying to Dubai

Choose a quiet time of year

Summer is known as Dubai’s off-peak season, as many travellers are reluctant to take on the desert heat and the sun. However, flying to Dubai is still manageable for many, as so many of the facilities are indoors and air-conditioned. If you can brave the heat, you are likely to find your tickets to be cheaper as well.

The absolute cheapest time to travel is probably during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a time of fasting and prayer, so you’ll find that during this time, many restaurants are closed during the day, and many other activities, like music shows, go on hiatus. Because of this more austere environment, tourists are less likely to travel to Dubai during the month of Ramadan. However, if you can manage with these limitations, you’ll find the prices are quite low. The dates of Ramadan alter with the lunar calendar, so make sure you check before booking.

If neither of these times appeals to you, we recommend you try booking in September. It’s not quite peak season, so the fares are still comparatively reasonable, but the heat is much more bearable.

The best time for flying to Dubai is during the cooler months beginning from November up to April. This is the best time for flying to Dubai even though the tickets would be slightly more expensive. There are cool breezes during the evening and night time. If you are comfortable with the budget, you can plan your trip for these months or December/January during the Dubai Shopping Festival.

You should also get to know the basic information about Dubai before flying here.

Fly in the middle of the week

Airlines change their fares constantly, several times during the week. Ticket prices tend to be higher on the weekends, so look out for mid-week flights to avail of cheaper fares. The ticket prices are generally lesser on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Choosing a less convenient time to fly, such as very late in the night, can also help reduce your ticket price.

Use a price protector

Book your tickets through a website that offers a price drop guarantee, like Flight Network. If the price of your ticket drops after you have already made a purchase, you’ll get credit back. In this way, you can enjoy worry free booking.

Try an alternate airport

Most flights will take you to Dubai International Airport. It’s a wonderful landing destination and one of the busiest airports in the world. However, there are other options that could prove to be cheaper. Dubai World Central is another airport in Dubai. It’s out of the way from the main city center, so flights landing there tend to be cheaper. It’s a decent option for the budget traveller – just make sure you arrange for transportation, as thanks to the long driving distance, a taxi or Uber to the city could be pretty pricy.

Another option is to fly into one of the neighboring emirates, such as Sharjah, These emirates tend to receive less tourist traffic, so tickets flying into their airports tend to be cheaper.

Split your booking

You may not know this, but booking as a group may cause you to lose out on cheaper ticket prices. For instance, suppose you are booking airline tickets for a party of four. The airline might have two available tickets selling for AED 2000, while the remaining available tickets are available for AED 2500. If you try to purchase four tickets at a time, you might not be shown those two cheaper tickets. However, if your book the tickets individually, you’ll be shown the two AED 2000 tickets as part of your options, allowing you to take advantage of the lower fares for those two tickets.

Sign up for newsletters

If you’re seriously planning a trip to Dubai, why not put your name on the mailing list for airlines such as Etihad, Emirates and Fly Dubai? In this way, you’ll be alerted to when these airlines are having a sale, allowing you to take advantage of the reduced fares.

 

Consider a stop-over

Of course, it’s very convenient to only have to deal with one flight. A great way to reduce your total fare cost is by booking a flight with a stop-over. While you’ll add a few extra hours to your trip, you’ll save on your travel fare. Not to mention, you’ll get a chance to stretch your legs between hours of sitting.

You don’t have to blow your budget on purchasing tickets and flying to Dubai. With some smart moves and planning, you can find great deals that will allow you to travel with confidence.  We hope to welcome you in Dubai soon.

Dubai Frame

Posted by & filed under Dubai.

Anyone who has visited Dubai recently will have seen an eye-catching structure rising up against the skyline in Karama. The Dubai Frame is set to be the newest addition to Dubai’s collection of architectural icons. This project has been a long-time coming – in fact, it was originally set to open in 2015. However, good things come to those who wait. We are happy to say that the Dubai Frame is now completed. Since its official opening date has now been set for January of 2018, we thought we would share everything you need to know about the Dubai Frame.

What is the Dubai Frame?

The Dubai Frame is 150-meter-by-150-meter rectangular structure, with a void in the center. According to the architect, instead of just being another structure on the Dubai skyline, it was designed to ‘frame’ Dubai’s development – past, present and future.

When you look through the frame from one side, to the South, you can see the glitzy skyline of Downtown Dubai, including famous landmarks like the Burj Khalifa. This view represents the modern side of Dubai, with all its glamour and ambition. However, when you look through the other side of the frame, to the North, you see the heritage regions of Dubai, where residents of the past dived for pearls, traded spices and lived simple lives.

How is the Dubai Frame decorated?

The Dubai Frame is opulently decorated with a stainless steel gold cladding, in a nod to Dubai’s reputation as the ‘City of Gold’. The shining exterior is striking against the blue sky. Fun fact –the honeycomb-like design on the Dubai Frame is a reference to the symbol of the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020.

Can you go to the top of the Dubai Frame?

Yes – the top of the Dubai Frame consists of a 93-meter long bridge. This allows visitors to enjoy views from up high. The experience is managed by the same people in charge of ‘At the Top’, the Burj Khalifa’s own viewing deck experience. This way, you know you are dealing with a team that is experienced in managing huge attractions like this endeavor.

How do you get to the top of the Dubai Frame?

Thankfully, the top of the Dubai Frame is accessible by elevator. In fact, the elevator is designed by ThyssenKrupp, the German engineering company that actually sponsored the competition where this design first took fruit. Impressively, the elevator is designed to only take one minute to reach the top, so just getting there will be an experience in and of itself.

Where is the Dubai Frame located?

The Dubai Frame is located at Zabeel Park in Karama. Karama is a lot closer to old area of Dubai, rather than the new. This makes sense, as the extra distance allows for a more encompassing view of the towers that make up Downtown Dubai. In a similar vein, by being closer to the Dubai Creek, the visitors can enjoy watching the sharper details, like the abras on the water.

If you are travelling to the Dubai Frame by metro, you should take the Red Line to the Al Jafiliya Metro Station. Our guide to using the Dubai Metro will help you out. If you wish to travel by car, there is public parking available inside Zabeel Park, outside Gate One.

How much are tickets to visit the Dubai Frame?

Tickets to the Dubai Frame cost AED 50 for adults and AED 30 for children. Tickets are free for children under the age of 3 and people over the age of 60. The tickets are valid for a one-hour experience.

The ticket system for the Dubai Frame to similar to that of the Burj Khalifa, wherein it is highly recommended that you book your tickets in advance. Each individual tour is set to take 20 people. While you might get lucky sometimes and find a group with an opening, your best bet is to reserve in advance.

Is the view from the top all the Dubai Frame has to offer?

No – the Dubai Frame is also home to a museum on the mezzanine floor. In keeping with the theme of the Dubai Frame, the museum is focused on Dubai’s development from humble fishing village to iconic global metropolis. What makes this museum particularly unique is that it doesn’t just rely on displays to convey information. Instead, it incorporates projections, mist effects, scents and movement to create a one-of-a-kind interactive experience.

Dubai has gone through massive changes throughout the course of its history. It is apt that there is now a monument paying tribute to the city’s past and future. We can’t wait for the official opening of the Dubai Frame, which will give us a chance to celebrate all that the city of Dubai has accomplished.

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.