Life in Dubai

I have just recently been to visit my Aunty and Uncle who live in Abu Dhabi. I was quite nervous about going to such a strict muslim ...


I have just recently been to visit my Aunty and Uncle who live in Abu Dhabi.
I was quite nervous about going to such a strict muslim country. I had been hearing endless stories about people getting arrested for holding hands and having their knees on show so as expected; I was rather nervous.
Abu Dhabi is definitely nothing like what people said and it was definitely a ridiculous stereotype. 

My journey was from Newcastle to Amsterdam with a two hour stop over and then on to Abu Dhabi.
If you do not like flying or you are going in the middle of the night I do not recommend this. I suggest going straight to Dubai airport and then getting a taxi to Abu Dhabi. It is about an hour drive into Abu Dhabi but the taxis are extremely cheap.


My Aunty lives in an apartment block called Al Zeina which has a private beach and is opposite the Yas Marina. It is also overlooking the Formula One track.


The Formula one track is amazing if you get close enough to it. The sound of the cars going around the track is strangely therapeutic whilst sitting on the balcony with a  glass of wine.


Obviously my first two days were spent catching up and relaxing with my family and we mainly stayed on the beach and in the apartment. We also picked up a lot of amazing take aways. 
If you want a night in when you're away and if you're in Abu Dhabi I would definitely suggest getting an Indians as the flavours are so much more intense.


However in my first couple of days I did get to experience going into an underground liquor store!

DRINKING IN DUBAI

In Abu Dhabi/Dubai not only do you need a licence to purchase alcohol but you need to know where the stores are hidden.
The one that I went to had double doors and a beer bottle sign on the door obviously signalling that it has alcohol in it.


Once you walk in you realise how special it is; the displays are beautiful and they only stock the best of the best. Obviously alcohol is a little bit more expensive but that is only due to the face that they only stock good quality drinks. If you ever know someone who lives in Abu Dhabi and they have an alcohol licence I definitely recommend you go in and take a look around because it was an amazing experience.

Thursday Nights In Abu Dhabi

Thursday nights in Abu Dhabi are the UK's Friday nights and everyone who is everyone gets dolled up and goes out. My favourite thing about Abu Dhabi was definitely that no matter what you wore, as long as it was respectable and you covered up, you would never be judged.
It was amazing to be able to get all dressed up and wear things that you could never wear in Newcastle without being talked about or judged.

We took a taxi and went to the Jumeirah Etihad Towers and went to 'Ray's Bar'. For all of the people under the age of 30 I definitely recommend taking a form of ID with you as they will definitely check.

The bar was extremely high up as the building and the walls were large glass windows so every where you looked you had the most amazing view. All the lights were lit up and the cars driving around down below - it was beautiful.


They did the most amazing range of cocktails and always have amazing offers on to encourage people to come out and enjoy themselves. The night that we went the champagne was half price - an offer you can't refuse really.
The service was amazing and your glass was never empty, and if it ever was someone would be straight there to fill it up for you. Plus if you needed another drink you just had to tell someone what you wanted and one of the men serving you would go and get it for you - you never had to move from your seat.
                                              

They also had the most amazing mixes of nuts and popcorn on the table for people to pick from. The popcorn was the most incredibly delicious barbecue flavour and was slightly addictive. It's probably not the most amazing thing but when you live in a place where you either get nothing on a table or just a handful of nuts in a bowl it seems like the best idea ever.

Everything about this bar was beautiful - even the toilets - and if you are ever in Abu Dhabi on a Thursday night you need to go to Ray's Bar. 

My favourite part of the evening was without a doubt the fact that there were no overly drunk people rolling around the place and there were no spilt drinks or smashed glasses on the floor. It was extremely casual and respectable. However there was a slight negative side to this and it was that not only was it extremely high up and not so good for people who are scared of heights, but you could also smoke freely.
Obviously this is not a negative for people who do smoke but if you aren't used to it or you don't like the smell then it was definitely something that you had to get used to. But luckily it wasn't too over powering and not everyone was doing it.


Dubai Mall


Friday was by far my favourite day as we got to go into Dubai and go to Dubai mall.
The second you walk into Dubai mall you feel overwhelmed - even if you are not a massive shopper.
Every designer you could ever imagine was there and the decor was incredible. Every shop had the most creative and artistic displays. Even the smell of the mall was sensational - a warm, calming exotic incense. 


They had the more expensive designers in one section so you had Mulberry and Chloe etc. This is where you saw all of the amazingly beautiful emirate women with their sky high Louboutins and Chanel handbags. There were two ladies who were walking around with a bell hop following them around with a trolly full of shopping. I would like to say I wasn't jealous but it was an absolute dream - I wanted their money for just one day to have a shop like that!


Walking through the mall from the designer shops the more high street shops such as H&M and Forever 21 started appearing.

This are was a lot busier and was packed due to it being a Saturday for Dubai. The one thing I picked up when I was shopping was that people who live in Dubai don't have many manners. They just walked into you or bashed you with their bags quite freely without apologising. However someone did knock me when I was in Sephora and I did get slightly frustrated until I realised I had just been hit with a Chanel bag and I felt like a million dollars and got over it very quickly.


In the middle of the mall there is a giant water tank full of beautiful tropical fish, sharks and manta-rays. You could go through the tank and have the whole 3D aquarium experience or you could go one step up and actually go inside the tank and get your photos taken. However I think that option is just for special members.




After a good shop we went to the food hall part of the mall and went for Dinner in a place called 'Social House'. Not only was it lovely to be sat in the heat with a nice cold 'Lemonade Fizz' but we also had the view of the beautiful fountains and we were right next to the Burj Khalifa.

The food at this place was out of this world - it was so fresh and flavoursome. If I lived in Dubai it's the kind of place I would go every day.



The Burj Khalifa is the worlds tallest building and is spectacular, if not a bit queasy to look up at. They have apartments near the top and rumour has it that if you live on one of the top floors, due to the lack of fire escapes that high up, you need a parachute and lessons to know how to get down from the building (if anyone knows if this is true or not feel free to let me know!)



Once lunch was finished we walked out to the fountains. We were on our way to the Souk al Bahar and to get there we had to walk over this little bridge. Whilst we were on the bridge the call to prayer started.


Just imagine being on a beautiful bridge in the sun, above clear blue water, looking at not only amazing buildings; but one of them being the tallest building in the world and having the call to prayer being sung at every angle.

It was amazing and if you don't know what the call to prayer is or haven't heard I definitely recommend going on youtube and having a listen because it's beautiful.


The Souk al Bahar was a beautiful indoor market type place full of quirky shops. There was places for fabric, scarves, bowls and cutlery (all hand made), art and souvenirs.

The artwork in this place is outstanding. There's mini art studios on random corners and you can buy pieces from the collections. They were so creative and colourful and the complete essence of Dubai and it's culture.

In the entrance there is a beautiful chair and I wish I had got a better photo to do it justice but there was a lot of people bumping against you.
Everything about the Souk was a typical, beautiful Moroccan style - even the toilets were amazingly creative.


 Karama

After the mall we went into a place called Karama which is where they do all of the fake bags. I must say, going from Dubai Mall to Kaarma was a bit of a shock; it is definitely the complete opposite to what it was like about 15 minutes away.
It seems so dry and sandy and there are just a few buildings that all look abandoned but they are full of fake Mulberry's and Chanel bags - and not all of them were good fakes!

There was one shop that we went to where it was actually an 'ASDA' but when you walked inside it was a tiny shop with a few Ted Baker and Michael Kors bags. However if you went up some very steep stairs you were up in the loft and they had more of a collection. My Aunty knew the owner and he took us to a separate place where they had all of the top quality fakes. They place we had to go to was a couple of minutes away from the actual shop and was in an apartment block.

When you walked in there was glass displays in every room and the quality of the bags were so much more amazing than the bags that were in the public shops. They were much more expensive but definitely worth it for the quality and the detailing.

Obviously we wanted to have a look around before anything was purchased as it was expensive and you didn't want to waste your money but none of the other shops had these secret rooms, or none that we were being offered to be shown.

You have to be in a very strong mindset to go through this area as everywhere you step you have someone shouting at you. They are shouting things about coming into the shops and looking at the bags but it is quite intense as they are basically just shouting random designer bags at you.
It is extremely intimidating and quite scary but if you just don't make eye contact and just keep walking forward and get through the swarm of desperate sellers you will be fine.

When we went back to the original shop we went to collect stuff from the secret place but had to wait for about half an hour because there were undercover police on the streets. My aunty told us that they had just had a raid on the secret place two weeks ago and you could tell that they were on edge and constantly checking the door.
Half an hour later we were shown back over to the secret rooms by the owner and he took us round the back way so we were off the streets. You had to pay for all purchases back at the legal ASDA shop and our stuff was put in bags and we were walked back over - however the owner made sure to be a few metres away from us at all time so we just looked like we were shopping. We also had to carry the bags over to the shop ourselves so it didn't look like he had just got some bags from somewhere and were bringing them back over.

I must say this whole day was exhausting and if you are staying in Dubai and don't have to travel far I don't recommend doing Dubai mall and Karama both in the same day. I also suggest doing it on a weekday so it's not as busy and so you're not hungover off Thursday night drinks!


Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

On our last day we went to a hotel called the 'Fairmont Bab Al Bahr', my Aunty received an offer for two free tickets for a pool day and then with there obviously being three of us we just had to pay for the one ticket.
This hotel is beautiful and from the second we got out of the car it was amazing - people parked the car for us and doors were always being opened for you. It was complete 5 star treatment.
The decor was incredible too, it was a combination of 70s Diva and simplistic futuristic layouts (if that makes any sense to normal people) - there was sequins and velvet everywhere!

The pool area was amazing, it just felt so clean and fresh. The area was huge and there was a nice cafe/food area and then if you kept going around the pool you end up on the private beach. Everything was done for you and even the towels are brought to your bed and set out for you. You also got free waters which are put in ice buckets which was ideal in the warm weather.

The view was amazing and you could see the grand mosque from where you were sat if you were on the beach and obviously at certain times of the day you can hear the call to prayer which was magical.


We got to have drinks and our lunch at the pool bar, you could sit on seats inside the water to keel cool whilst eating and chilling out with a drink. The atmosphere was very relaxing and friendly and if you ever want to go on a holiday to Abu Dhabi I definitely recommend staying at this hotel if it is within your budget as it was the perfect holiday destination with fantastic customer service.




Obviously I was only there for a couple of days so I did not get to experience everything that we wanted to do but I am without a doubt going to be going back to Abu Dhabi in the near future and me and my Aunty have already created a massive list of things still to do when i'm over there.

For people who are planning on visiting or already have a trip planned I've created a list of things that are a definite must if you are visiting either Abu Dhabi or Dubai if you don't want to do any of the above.


PLACES TO GO IN ABU DHABI AND DUBAI

  • The Grand Mosque
  • Sky Bar - cocktail bar 
  • Ferrari World - Home to World's fastest roller coaster
  • Yas Waterworld - a water theme park that has scary slides and lazy rivers for the best of both
  • Emirates Palace - you can buy bars of gold here and have afternoon tea where you can have tea with edible gold dusted on it for people who have money to throw away!
  • Kayacking in Eastern Mangroves and a sea plane for a flight tour
  • Formula One track - You can run a cycle round the track every Thursday night as it is kept open to the public for exercise. Or you can also race cars on the track at other times
  • Desert Safari - This consists of dune bashing, camel riding and quad biking
  • Palm and Atlantis Hotel - waterpark and for the daredevils it has a really scary ride called 'Leap of Faith'
  • Burj Khalifa - for people who are not scared of heights actually going up the Burj Khalifa.
  • Fountain Show - The fountain show next to the Souk al Bahar and Burj Khalifa is sensational and definitely something that needs experienced
  • Old Souk - a spice and gold souk
  • Borj al Arab - 7 star hotel
  • Souk Madinat - a bigger a prettier version of Souk al Bahar
Obviously this may take a few trips and not everything will suit everybody and there is obviously so much more to do there but this was just a few suggestions. There are so many things to do in this beautiful place and it is without a doubt the most amazing country and I definitely recommend going at least once in your life.
Also, please be respectful of the fact that this is a muslim country and like everyone, they have different rules. You will get the best out of your trip if you abide by these rules and don't walk around in minimal clothing or drink alcohol where inappropriate. 

And a massive thank you to my Aunty and Uncle who let me have the opportunity to share this part of their life with me! I love you and your home! 

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