Dubai and the Emirates are usually connected to luxury vacations, superlatives, oil, and rich people. Most of this is true. I had the chance to see the other side of the United Arab Emirates. Thanks to my friend Angelo Vassiliades (go see his photography homepage) I had the chance to stay in Dubai and travel into the backlands of this artificial and still so friendly part of the world.
It all started in “the sky is the limit” Dubai. Dubai is an unreal place. Very hot, very clean, and too much focus on money for my taste. But you can find the right places. Go to old Dubai and the market. The old, naturally grown part of Dubai seems more authentic to me. Thanks for showing me around Angelo!
The old harbor of Dubai was the center of the old pearl industry. The pearl diver boats came in here. Today you still get the feeling of this busy and chaotic harbor atmosphere. Here I met interesting people too. The language was a barrier that could easily be broken with hands and face impressions. I met open-minded and curious people in this part of the city.
For a day trip we went of to see Hatta, Fujeirah and the Big Red Sand Dune. A fantastic road trip with my old pal. He loves photography too. We had so much to catch up on and I could easily spend weeks with Angelo conquering new places all around the world. Mate, India is still a plan for us!
The more you drive into the backlands, the more you get the feeling of the real old desert of the United Arab Emirates. Endless sand dunes, blazing heat and rocky mountains.
When Angelo had to return to work I moved on alone to see Sharja, Abu Dhabi, and Jebel Jais. Wherever I arrived people were friendly and I had conversations with strangers all the time. Even the older generation was interested and asked about my camera and my occupation.
When I stayed in Abu Dhabi I had two sights I wanted to check. The first was the New Louvre. Just finished the year before this was the best exhibition I have ever been too. Starting with the material the architects used, the curation of the exposés, and the roof of this museum. Jaw-dropping and mind-blowing!
The second sight was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. An impressive mosque on the southern end of the city. Even more impressive at night when the illumination of the building creates a completely different picture.
The last stop was a shortstop in the Jebel Jais mountainscape in the norther of the United Arab Emirates close to the border with Oman. The locals use it as a weekend day trip by car and have a picnic in the shadow of these rocky mountains. It’s a dry place with some fantastic lookouts and some heavy traffic on the weekends.