Oman- UAE travel info
Kind of travel:
and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel
26th Dec08- 7th Jan 09
I need a visa?:
no for EU citizen, and we didn't even pay any entry/ exit tax
not big choise. Or you take the expensive taxis or the frequent
buses/ minibuses. Anyway moving around is easy but dramatically
slow due to the traffic
it was chillier than we thought. The temp was 16- 24C, but in
particular in Abu Dhabi the chilly wind didn't let to stay even
on the beach with the jacket. Forget bathing in the sea!
at the youth hostel for 30€ (double with bathroom and breakfast).
In centre near the souk there are other cheap (and dodgy) hotels,
otherwise nothing for less than 70€ for a double.
I found the palm shaped artificial island, called Jumeria, amazing
in all the senses (even negative), but it's a must to be seen.
What I disliked:
the traffic sucks terribly
How much daily:
we managed to spend 46€/day per each (with 15€ x hostel),
always moving by bus and keeping far from any 'fancy top end'
restaurant. I doubt you could spend less...
a pair of
sunglasses unmissable for anyone
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT UAE
Arab Emirates, and in particular Dubai, disappointed
me. I guess this can be due both to 'too-high-expectations',
given the worldwide Dubai fame, and the backpacking approach
we had with the country, that maybe keeps hidden most of his
gems. For sure we didn't want a 200$/day trip in the Emirates
that's why we didn't regret having spent with our 45$ anyway.
Generally speaking the main issue we found, was the traffic:
moving around a city as Dubai without any form of underground
or light train is a hell. Only to reach our hostel placed 6km
from the centre it took more than 1h. Said this, once the underground
under construction will open (2009), things will change a lot,
Then I didn't get enthusiastic for Dubai itself; the highlights
that are worth the visit (skiing Dubai, Palm island, Burj Al
Arab hotel) are outside the city, while the centre is far from
being super-modern, and at the same time not even a typical
middle east town built around the souk: hence it results a mix
of skyscrapers and stalls.
On the other hand I appreciated Abu Dhabi, since it fitted more
with my expectation of modern, clean, organised city of the
Said this, of course visiting the Emirates is an interesting
experience I recommend. My suggestion, to avoid to get quickly
fed up, is to associate such trip with another destination that
could be the desert of the Emirates, the Oman (in particular
the Musandam Penisula) or the Saudi Arabia (tell me how you'll
get the visa!).
TRAVEL IN UAE
from Milan, passing through an uncommon stop-over in Azerbaijan,
in the hearth of the night we landed in the famous Dubai. After
few hours of an unfruitful snooze in the shittiest area of the
supercool airport, we wandered in the outskirt of the city,
looking for the 'Oman Transport Company' bus heading to Oman.
It's around 5h to reach the Omani capital and for most of the
trip to the border, we were amazingly plunged in a thick fog;
when finally the sun came out, we were already close to the
land of the Quabus Sultan. Hence, given our 'I-just-wanna-sleep'
mood and the foggy weather, our first glance of the Emirates
turned out a quite fuzzy.
[The Travel in
Entering United Arab Emirates from Oman through Buraimi, we
passed the high barbered wire fence dividing the two countries.
Al Ain, 10min from the crossing point, it's a nice oasis in
the middle of the desert. Nothing can really draw a visitor
here, despite being the first sip of Emirates (or the last one,
according to your direction) and the wide well kept zoo. Here,
beside the animals, you can admire the typical Arab couples:
white dressed guys driving the pushchairs, while the black dressed
wives parading with their new purses.
The same day we reached Dubai in an easy 2h trip by one of the
frequent minibuses shuttling between the towns.
The accommodation in Dubai at the Youth Hostel turned out a
good pick. In fact for 30€ we got: a double room with private
bathroom, breakfast and swimming pool. The drawback are the
6kms from the centre, that, given the traffic, will make you
regret of the saving quite quickly.
A day can be spent for the gold and the perfume souk, together
with the creek, however from my point of view the real highlights
are 'The Mall of Emirates, where the famous ski resort is placed,
and overall the jaw dropping Palm Jumeira.
The first one, reachable by bus, is a huge mall with its ski
resort that means a bunch of slopes (even a black one!!), a
lifter, a bob course and a snowboarding area. You can see it
for free from some windows or investing 40€, you can enjoy
it for few hours renting all the necessary outfit in the place.
It makes a kind of impression if you think that most of the
Arabs have their only chance to see the snow in a Mall.
Less easy to be reached, but more impressive I found the Palm
The biggest artificial island in the world is in the shape of
a palm tree. It consists of a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds,
and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11 km long breakwater.
The island is 5 km by 5 km and its total area is larger than
800 football pitches residential areas built on a palm-shaped
Till the monorail won't be completed (2009), the only way to
get there is by taxi from the business area called Dubai Marina
in the mainland. Then you have to reach the northmost tip of
the island where the magnificent brand new Atlantis Hotel is
placed. Here have a walk in the mall built underneath the hotel
to have a look to the HUGE acquarium, or have some fun at the
water park just next to the Atlantis.
On the way to the Palm Jumeirah the bus'll stop in front
of the Burj-Al-Arab, the super-advertised hotel designed to
resemble a billowing sail.
You can't enter it for free, but the view from the eastern beach
worth the effort, in particular at the twilight.
The last day, tired of the chaos in Dubai, we visited the capital
Abu Dhabi, with an easy 2h travel by the frequent buses shuttling
between the cities.
Here we had a look to the biggest mall of the Emirates, where,
just to give you an idea of the dimensions, in the kid area
there's a real rollercoaster.
Then we had a stroll along the nice few km long seafront, where,
due to the chilly wind, we couldn't appreciate the well kept
beach and its park built alongside. I guess from March it should
be a pleasure poking around there and bathing.
One thing I really liked of Abu Dhabi was that urban buses are
for free, but girl must seats separately, so don't take into
consideration buses as a good opportunity to flirt! :-)