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Middle East

Tuesday, 06 December 2005


So, I will see your exotic foodstuffs and raise you four ramboutan from The Chedi hotel in Muscat, Oman.

Posted by bigblue on 06/12/2005 at 10:21 PM
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Sunday, 04 December 2005
Jumeirah Mosque

Jumeirah Mosque

This is the Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, the only mosque in the United Arab Emirates which is open to non-Muslims (twice a week, during a guided tour).  This is part of an open-doors, open-minds programme run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.  Besides for the tours, this centre organises coffee mornings, walking tours of the historical Bastakiya district in Dubai, spoken Arabic courses (Gulf dialect), staff training in cultural awareness and runs a traditional gift shop.

On the tour the guide told us that the mosque was built in 1978 to commemorate the 14th Century (of the Islamic calendar), and is a replica of a mosque that exists in Cairo.  According to

The Jumeirah Mosque is the most photographed building in the city and an impressive example of modern Islamic architecture with its two minarets. It was built along medieval Fatimid lines, entirely of stone. It is particularly attractive at night, when subtle lighting increases its dramatic effect.

I found a night-shot of the mosque here.  The above photograph is actually a merge of 3 separate photographs that I took and merged together (hence the obvious distortions).

Posted by bigblue on 04/12/2005 at 08:40 AM
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Friday, 02 December 2005
Burj al-Arab symbolism

Burj al Arab

This shot is taken about an hour after the one I posted yesterday morning.  The sun sets quickly in Dubai. According to Wikipedia:

The building’s external lighting scheme can vary from white to multicolored, changing from one to another every 30 minutes, expressing the evening’s progress. At certain times, there is a light show, where colors interchange rapidly.

However in my mind the colours that light the burj come in waves that evoke the movement of the sea, while the light show (flashing lights like those familiar to the Eiffel Tower) on the Burj’s vertical pillars evoke reflections of sunlight upon the sea.  As I mentioned yesterday the shape of the burj represents the sail of a traditional arab dhow.

Posted by bigblue on 02/12/2005 at 08:31 AM
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Thursday, 01 December 2005
Burj al-Arab

Burj al-Arab

The building in this photograph is the Burj al-Arab at Jumeira in Dubai. Burj is an Arabic word meaning tower so Burj al-Arab means Arab tower. The Burj is built to resemble the sail of a dhow but it is rumoured that it looks like a giant crucifix from the sea. It was designed by the firm Atkins of the UK, and constructed by the South African firm Murray and Roberts so presumably (if true) this would mean that Atkins was pulling a zap sign at the local owners.  The burj has been the scene of several photo opportunities.

Posted by bigblue on 01/12/2005 at 08:26 AM
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Wednesday, 30 November 2005
On the beach

Jebel Ali Beach

On the day I arrived my cousins took me to Jebel Ali Beach where we relaxed, swam and had a picnic. The only off-putting part of the day was the guys in 4x4 cars who cruised the beach staring at the women bathers. The water was warm and I swam and then dozed on the sand under one of the sunshades that scatter the beach. The link above takes you to a map of the area. We were on the beach between the Jebel Ali palm and the Jumeirah palm (in the distance of the photograph I took, above).  These are

ecological disasters

large man-made peninsulas which have been constructed in the sea in order to expand the coast-line and provide islands with luxury villas, hotels, theme parks, restaurants and shopping malls. 

According to official sources, the palms will have no adverse effect on the ecology of the area, but this is controversial. Others have written of Dubai’s Sinister Paradise, and have alleged that the palms are having a devastating effect on local coral.

I saw lots of pieces of broken coral littering the beach, which was disturbing.

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2005 at 11:49 PM
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Saturday, 26 November 2005
Desert ride


After an eventful drive through the desert we made it to Oman. The border crossing was the eventful part, bringing to mind the good old days when we used to do the Bapetikosweti rigmarole.  This one might have been a bit more scary and real, but I was younger when we used to have to produce our passports to go in and out of Bapetikosweti and I didn’t know that. 

The reason it was similar is that one of us (usually my brother) was always allowed from South Africa into Bapetikosweti but they made it clear that he would not be allowed back in. (We had to take the route back where there was no border post).  In this case, one of my cousins was allowed from Dubai into Oman but she was told she was not allowed back because she did not have a multiple entry visa.  In her case the alternative route back might mean flying back.

Posted by bigblue on 26/11/2005 at 01:20 PM
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Friday, 25 November 2005
First night in Dubai


This is at a night spot we went to on my first (er, only) night in Dubai.  It’s one of those ones where you set the timer and then run around and plonk yourself in front of everyone.  In the background is a dhow. If there are two things they seem to like in these parts it is dhows and fairy lights.  Why not?

Posted by bigblue on 25/11/2005 at 01:20 PM
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Wednesday, 23 November 2005
Sunrise over Shiraz


I woke up to this sunrise this morning at 39000 feet over Shiraz.  Arrived in

the largest building site in the world

Dubai at about 7:30 am this morning and spent most of the day with my cousins at the beach.

Posted by bigblue on 23/11/2005 at 01:24 PM
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