United Arab Emirates

Dubai: Tall


United Arab Emirates

April 3, 2016

Dear Friends,


In a word, that is how I would describe Dubai: “Tall, very tall!”

Apartment blocks, apartment clusters, office buildings, hotels, even the minarets of the mosques are all very tall.

Dubai boasts the tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa.  Piercing the skyline, the spike of a structure stands at 829.8m or 2722 ft. 

Set on a man-made island and shaped like the sail of a dhow, the traditional ship of Arabia, the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel stands at 321m or 1053 ft.  Burj Al Arab is only (!) the third tallest hotel in the world.   The other two?  JW Marriott Marquis and Rose Rayhaan?  Why also in Dubai, of course.

The Souk, Sharjah, UAE



United Arab Emirates

April 4, 2016

Dear Friends,

I am guessing there are about one hundred and fifty shops.  Have you ever seen so much gold jewelry in one place?   

The elaborate pieces on display in the Sharjah Gold Souk seem fit only for the wife of an Emir or a Sheik!  Considering my bank balance and my current marital status, I smiled at the merchants, took my photos and walked on.

Ras Al Khaimah: Abandoned Fishing Village

Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village

Ras Al Khaimah Emirate

United Arab Emirates

April 5, 2016

My Friends,

In the guidebook, the abandoned Jazirat Al Hamra Fishing Village is categorized as a “neighborhood….”

“….For an authentic glimpse of the pre-oil era, poke around this deliciously spooky ghost town, one of the oldest and best preserved coastal villages in the UAE.”

“First settled in the 14th Century, its people subsisted mostly on fishing and pearling until they suddenly picked up and left in 1968.”*

Cautiously I make my way up and around the rocky paths amid the cluttered ruins of homes, schools, shops, mosques and towers. 

Umm Al Quwain: Before Oil - Pearls

Umm Al Quwain

United Arab Emirates

April 5, 2016

Before oil…. 


The pearl diving tradition in the Arabian Gulf goes back at least 7000 years.  The decline came when the Japanese began producing and marketing cultured pearls in the early 20th Century.

In Umm Al Quwain, a small, sleepy emirate about 40km north of Dubai, I visited the Umm Al Quwain Museum.  In this restored 1768 fort, I found pearl diving equipment on display in this former residence of a local ruler and seat of government.  Highlights in the museum also include old Bedouin jewelry, fancy weapons and the ladies’ quarters.

Across the road is the Umm Al Quwain Archeology Center.  Now here you get a sense of antiquity of the Arabian Peninsula.   On display are tools and jewelry and pottery dated from the Sixth Millenium BCE through the First Millenium CE.

Sharjah: University City and Cultural Center


United Arab Emirates

April 6, 2016

My friend Jack in Chicago tries to visit a school whenever he travels to a new city.

So following Jack’s lead, in Sharjah I visited the Sharjah University City.

The University City was established in 1997.  The grounds are beautiful and the buildings are new, with both modern conveniences and traditional Islamic architectural motifs and colors.

More than 20,000 students from all over the world attend classes.

The campus complex covers 1600 acres or 2.5 square miles (647 hectares or 6.5 sq kilometers).

Abu Dhabi: Oil and Education

Abu Dhabi

Capital City

United Arab Emirates

April 9, 2016

I heard somewhere that the Sheikh in Abu Dhabi declared, “When the oil runs out, we will have the best educated population in the Arab world.”   I couldn't find the source of that quote.  I did find a reference to a speech the Sheikh delivered in 2015:

HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the UAE and other countries in the region had “lagged behind” in the past when it comes to investment in education.

Speaking on the first day of the Dubai Government Summit, Sheikh Mohamed told an audience of world leaders and decision makers: “I think in the region we have all paid a high price in the delay of education.

“We were lagging behind. When we know that we were lagging behind – and we know we are still behind – it’s different than if we are oblivious of our status.

“At this time, when we have a lot wealth, we need to invest in education.”