Destination Desert - Dubai, Al Ain and Fujairah


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Dubai is one of the most frequently visited overseas destinations by Indian tourists. The primary reason for the same is glamour of Dubai, I guess. There are many man-made wonders in Dubai. That has made Dubai one of the sought after tourist destinations especially to Indians, The shortish travel time and availability of Indian diaspora and food also act as catalysts.

We were also planning a Dubai trip for quite a long time and we finally did that in last Christmas.

But we were not only interested to see and experience the man-made marvels at Dubai. We were also keen to go beyond those glitzy sky-scrappers to get a feel of the old world, to get the smell of the desert and the barren land. So, in addition to spending time in modern Dubai, we spent considerable time on the streets Bur Dubai and Deira, we strolled along Dubai creek and crossed it by Abra multiple times. We did day trips to Al Ain and Fujairah. We found that more rewarding (and less expensive) than aimlessly and endlessly walking and shopping in the gigantic malls of Dubai.

Before getting into detailed narration of our trip, let me share the teaser first.


Burj Khalifa


View of Dubai from Burj Khalifa


Dubai Fountain


Dubai Frame


Miracle Garden, Dubai


Dubai Creek




Al Ain Oasis


Jabel Hafeet mountain


Khor Fakkan beach


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We did the trip almost 4 months back. I did not make detail noting of the trip. Therefore, it is bit difficult for me construct day by day narratives. Further, there are many places which we had visited for more than one time. So, day by day narration would have some element of repetition.

Therefore, I would construct this narrative on the basis of places visited by us. The broad classification is as follows:
  • Dubai;
  • Bur Dubai;
  • Deira;
  • Al Ain; and
  • Fujairah.
In the subsequent posts, I will narrate various attractions of those places which were visited by us.


Whenever we hear Dubai, we instantaneously visualize an ultra-modern city backed up by superb infrastructure. It enjoys an impeccable reputation as a trade and financial nerve centre of the entire globe. Dubai, as perceived by us, is an out an out futuristic city.

But Dubai does have a history and that too is almost 5000 years old.

Dubai’s history can be dated back to 3000 BC. Archeological excavations at Hatta, Al Quasis and Jumeirah reveal that there was a high degree of civilization in the Dubai area around 3000 BC as well as in the early and middle Islamic period. An Italian explorer in 1580 described Dubai as a prosperous community when people of Dubai were engaged in pearl diving.

Occupation dating to the third millennium BC (Early Bronze Age) has been found not only in Dubai but also throughout the emirates, as evidenced by the settlement along the western coast of Arabian Gulf and in the interior oasis and mountain wadis. In Dubai, bronze age settlements have been found at two sites – Matta and Al-Safoh. This civilization, contemporary with other major civilisations in Mesopotamia and Indus valley, flourished in the Emirates. As per the archeologists, this civilization was known in Mesopotamian texts as Magan, one of the Mesopotamia’s major copper supplier.

The geographical location of Hatta and Al-Safoh contributed their playing an important role in trade and transportation of copper from the mountains for export, consolidating their position and status with the other the then ancient civilizations. The populations of these areas were dependent upon agriculture, grazing, fishing, pearling and manufacturing of bronze and ceramics for their livelihood. Hatta and Umm Suqeim are the oldest human settlements discovered in the Emirate of Dubai till date.

The settlement at Al-Safoh is dated 2500-2000 BC. Located close to the main settlement, is a circular stone built communal grave, over six and half meters diameter, the largest tomb yet found in Dubai. The outer walls of the tomb are built of carefully cut and shaped blocks of beach stone up to 90 cm of length, 55 cm in height and 10 cm in thickness, which fit together create a smooth, convex exterior face. Internally, the tomb is divided into two apparently unconnected halves which are approached by two opposite doorways of 50 cm in width. Further, internal walls divide each half of the tomb in three separate chambers, all accessible via a narrow passage next to the external wall. Contained in these chambers were the skeletal remains of many men, women and children, distributed with no apparent chamber specialization according to age and sex. Funerary gifts included ceramic vessels, bronze daggers and rings as well as many beads, necklaces all dating to the second half of third millennium (2500-2000 B.C.), an era locally knowns as Umm Annar period.

Many tombs of similar structure and content have been excavated throughout Emirates providing the evidence of widespread and flourishing culture that existed in the region at that time.

An archeological site of importance in this regard is Al Quasis. It represents a centre of civilization and contains the remains of a small human settlement which dates back to the third millennium BC. Discoveries included the remains of a small temple, which probably was used to worship snakes, and fields of graves of different shapes; rectangular graves (second millennium B.C.); oval shaped graves (second half of second millennium B.C.) and shoe shaped graves (first millennium B.C.). Some of these graves contained skeleton which were almost intact. One of the most interesting discoveries was that of grave with two intertwined skeletons, most probably of a husband and wife.

The wife was facing the South, which was the direction of the human settlements, an indication of regular daily requirements, while the male was facing the sea, the source of making a living through fishing and sailing. This shows a civilized society with a religion with belief in life after death. The dead were provided with funeral gifts including pottery, stone vessels, bronze items which were used as weapons, beads and shells. Al Quasis site referred to a superior civiisation which resulted from commercial relation, geographical location and local manufacturing.

Al Quasis is located 15 kms east of Deira.

With the rise of Islam, the Emirate became part of the Arab-Islamic civilization. Archeological evidences of early Islamic era, the Umayyad and Abbasid era have been discovered at Al Jumeirah. This site, admeasuring approximately around 20 hectres, has the remains of many houses, large buildings and commercial shops built of stone and covered with plaster.

The architecture of Al Jumeirah is characterized by the use of arches, columns and towers, as well as ornamentation and engravings as facades, doors and windows. Glass and Pottery similar to those found in Al Jumeirah, have also been found in Mesopotamia indicating the existence of connection between Emirates and Mesopotamia and importance of Emirates as a commercial centre and caravan station en route to Mesopotamia and perhaps other parts of Arabian Peninsula.

The relics of Islamic Jumeirah are located along Jumeirah beach. It includes remains of big buildings, a mosque, a number of shops and separate houses. Those remains date back to pre-Islamic era and the rise of Arabic-Islamic civilization. The archeological discovery shows that the city of Dubai reached its zenith during Abbasid era (ninth century AD). The sophistication of this civilization is reflected in its architecture which included the use of arches, towers and different stucco decorations. The ancient city flourished due its location as a trade station between Oman, the heart of Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia. This made the population rich and allowed them to lead a developed and advanced lifestyle,

One excavated building in Jumeirah shows the development of architecture in the Emirates from the pre-Islamic eras up to the end of second Abbasid era (5th-12th century A.D.)

The building is rectangular and was constructed in an rea of approximately 347 square meters. It includes eighteen rooms of different sizes and shapes. It was built in two stages. The old part is made of eight rectangular rooms (5th-6th century A.D.). The other part is an addition which was made during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras and includes ten rooms built around an open court yard. The entrance of the building is on eastern side and has two quadrant towers. On the four corners of the building there are circular towers, while semi circular towers are present on the remaining walls of the buildings. Rooms, internal and external walls and floors were plastered with pure gypsum.

Dubai first became an independent political entity in 1833, when 800 men of the Bu Flasa tribe, under the leadership of Maktoum Bin Butti, settled in the area. Most of the population settled in Bur Dubai, which was surrounded by a defensive wall. But Deira was not populated in large numbers until 1841, followed by Al Shindagha.

Dubai’s economy prospered after 1894 when Sheikh Makhtoum Bin Hasher Al Makhtoum gave tax exemption to foreign traders. At that time, the city’s exports were pearl, dried fish
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Dubai (continued)

Enough history has been discussed. So, I should get into narration of the specific places visited by us in Dubai.

Whenever, we plan a trip, domestic as well as overseas, we prefer to plan and execute the same on our own. For that, we take inputs from various websites including BCMTouring. We strictly avoid conducted trips. We also do not avail the guided tour arrangements available in those destinations.

This has positive as well as negative sides.

One of the negatives aspects of self-planned, self-arranged and self-managed trips is that trip always become sub-optimal. In our every trip, we end up missing few places which should have been covered. Further, sometimes, our lack of knowledge about the background or context of the attractions restricts our ability to comprehend the significance of that attraction.

The positive side is that we do the trips in our own pace. We see what we want to see. We overstay at those places where we want to spend time. We feel the places in our own way. It allows us to interact with local people, avail local transport and get a feel of local culture. And the last but not the least, it allows us to experience the joy of planning of the trip from scratch which is as important as the trip itself.

In Dubai, we visited Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Dubai Fountain, Miracle Garden, Global Village and The Lost Chambers Aquarium housed in Atlantis the Palm hotel at Palm Jumeirah. We deliberately missed the Emirates Mall. We were forced to give a glance to the Dubai mall because accesses to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain are through Dubai Mall. Similarly, we gave a cursory glance to Atlantis the Palm hotel and Palm Jumeirah while going to and returning from the Lost Chambers Aquarium. We did not go to Dubai Marina because neither we had time nor we were very inclined to see Dubai Marina. We also gave passes to Dubai Marina Cruise and Dhow Cruise on Dubai creek. However, we have crossed Dubai creek multiple times by Abra. We also did desert safari but did not clicked many photos.

Before details of the specific attraction of Dubai visited by us, let me post some random photos of Dubai taken during our stay there. Those photos were primarily taken from the moving cars, and therefore, clarity of the photos may not be good.







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Dubai (continued)

The Lost Chambers Aquarium

This is UAE’s largest aquarium. The other notable aquarium is at Dubai Mall.

The Lost Chambers Aquarium is in Atlantis the Palm hotel at Palm Jumeirah. It has been created using the lost city of Atlantis as the background. It has 10 chambers and it houses around 65000 marine animals.

Its ticket costs 405 AED per person. It takes around 2 hours to see this aquarium thoroughly.

There are other attractions like Dolphin Bay, Sea Lion Point, Aqua venture water park, Diving in Atlantis but we skipped those.


Arapaima : It is a native fish to freshwater system in South America. It is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. It can grow up to 3 metres in length and weigh up to 90 kg. It gulps air from the surface of the water which allows it to live in oxygen depleted water. Due to over fishing , the species is near extinction and has been listed as an endangered species.


Gourami : This fish is native to South America, which can grow up to 1.8 mtr and 80 kg in weight. This fresh water fish has been around 13 million years.


Albino Pacu : Albino species is extremely rare and unusual. Albino Pacu does have all the characteristics of others of their species except they are all white in colour. It lacs melanin or pigment in their skin creating a milky skin colour and pink eyes. It has flat, human like teeth. Its molar-teeth are used to crush food like nuts.


Jellyfish Sting: The stinging cells of the jellyfish are found on the tentacles. These are microscopic harpoons which in milliseconds are fired to stun its prey. The intensity of the sting will kill its prey instantly, or cause anywhere from an itch to burning sensation.


Pacific Brown Sea Nettle









Moorish Idol-Gill : Gill is the heavily-scarred Moorish Idol fish and the leader of the Tank Gang who, along with his companions manage to escape. The Moorish Idol got its name from the Moors of Africa, who supposedly believed that this fish brings happiness.




Queensland Grouper – The Queensland Grouper is one of the biggest species of Grouper. They can reach a maximum size of 400 kg and live up to 40 years of age. Almost all Grouper start off as female and when matures, become male based on unknown social or environmental factor


Clownfish: clownfish have a special relationship with its host anemone, in that the anemone offers it protection from predators, and clownfish provides anemone scrap of food.



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Dubai (continued)

Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis the Palm

The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago, created using land reclamation which extends into the Persian Gulf.

Atlantis the Palm is located at the apex of Palm Jumeirah. Apparently, the movie “Happy New Year” was shot in Atlantis the Palm.

We have not specifically visited these places. While going to the ‘The Lost Chambers Aquarium’, we took few photos of Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis the Palm.









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Dubai (continued)

Dubai Miracle Garden

Our next destination was Dubai Miracle Garden.

The miracle garden is a flower garden. It was launched in 2013. The garden occupies over 72000 square meters making it world’s largest natural flower garden featuring over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.

Its various attractions are hearts passage, floral clock, floral castle, Emirates A380, Big Teddy Bear, Mickey Mouse, Lost Paradis etc. The park remains open from 9 am to 9pm on week day and from 9 am to 11 am on weekend. The price of entry tickets is 50AED per person.

During the summer months, it remains closed for 6 months to protect the plants from excessive heat.















Since we went there late afternoon, after sometime, evening descended. The Miracle Garden was looking equally stunning under the light also.






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