United Arab Emirates
Coordinates: 24.455800, 54.672730
After spending five glorious days in Dubai, we were back in Ginny and Sern’s home ground. Interestingly enough despite its prominence Dubai is not the administrative capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is one of seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the largest emirate by area accounting for approximately 87 percent of the total land area of the federation and also has the largest population of the seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the emirate, after which it is named, as well as the capital of the federation. Also playing a part of Abu Dhabi’s prominence among the emirates is the fact that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who was the principal driving force behind the formation of the UAE and its first President hails from Abu Dhabi.
Okay, enough with the banter. It was way past ten in the morning when we awoke after last night’s thrill-a-minute adventure in the desert, and by the time we got ready it was almost lunchtime.
Ginny and Sern took us to a Korean restaurant situated in an area called Al Nahyan in downtown Abu Dhabi. It was a case of killing two birds with one stone as Sern needed to dart into his office for a little while.
While waiting for Sern to clear his work we walked into Manna Land Korean Restaurant which was celebrating over 15 years of offering the finest Korean and Japanese cuisine for brunch.
|specialising in Korean and Jappanese cuisine|
|in the heart of downtown Abu Dhabi|
|as we sat and waited for Sern|
|Ginny proceeded to order|
|delicious side dishes|
|many variants to offer|
|the cuttlefish dish|
|Ginny booked a private room|
|as more dishes arrived|
|can't recall what this was|
|Brendan's kimchi stew?|
After brunch, we headed out to the Mina Zayed (or Zayed Port) area but not before posting a few photos of the area where Sern worked. Apparently the complex that housed Sern’s office is off limits to cameras, so sneaking a few photos was something I could not resist.
|but an adrenaline rush just the same|
|ciao Al Mamoura|
We arrived at the Mina Zayed and were mindful of the fact that as an active government port, taking pictures in this area can attract unwanted attention. When taking photos we tried to stay away from sweeping landscapes for fear of taking photos of sensitive things.
We first paid a visit to the local flower market here.
|the Reihan, or Raihan|
|known as Heavens' Flower|
|ideal for indoors|
|bigger shrubs as well|
|even a lemon tree?|
|it was a soothing walk|
|along the flower market|
|that invigorated our senses|
|there was many nurseries in neat pretty row|
Next up, we walked a few metres due north east towards what can best be described as a home ware store that sold all manner of everyday household items that looked so exotic. Also known as the Iranian Souk this eclectic marketplace is filled with goods from Iran and other countries in the region.
|you can even find a bird cage here|
|you can only have karak chai|
|served in its proper pot|
|ah, a good souvenir?|
|all that silver and gold|
|many items here|
|bore the UAE emblem|
|and all many of crockery|
|wishing I could have bought this|
|Cat and Brendan were enthralled!|
No visit to the Mina Port would be complete without paying a visit to the Abu Dhabi Fishermen Cooperative Society's Fish Market (phew, that was a mouthful!). Every morning, fishermen load their catch on to the quayside and prepare for a day of haggling. It was an incredible experience and we gained a fascinating insight into the way traditional business is done. The market is also very prominent and sells a wide selection of fresh fish and sea products.
|unlike what we're used to|
|this is the cleanest wet markets we've been to|
|species of fish?|
|noisy friendly bunch|
|fancy a baby shark?|
|we're no fish experts|
|so we can't name the species|
|but we know a crab when we see one (or two)|
After the exhilarating fish market we stopped by the Dhow Harbour to look at the boats, called dhows that were docked here. The dhow is a traditional sailing vessel used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Historians are divided as to whether the dhow was invented by Arabs or Indians. Typically sporting long thin hulls, dhows are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise, along the coasts of the Persian Gulf, East Africa, Yemen and coastal South Asia coasts of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.
|off in the distance|
|behind the fish market|
|perfect example of old meets new|
|our first dhow, in the 'flesh'|
|still a thriving industry|
|we should come here before dawn|
|to catch the excitement|
|although we were not supposed to, we couldn't resist|
|but capture images of actual middle eastern fishermen|
|mending his net|
Before leaving Mina Zayed Ginny and Sern took us to, in its own words, a cultural space that encourages artistic expressions, and supports the perceptive processes, in order to reinforce the UAE's creative community. Known as Warehouse421 and launched in 2015 it was transformed from an industrial warehouse to a platform for art and culture, design and creativity, performance and music, from regional, international and UAE-based artists, designers and cultural practitioners.
|an artistic impression of a dhow|
|just like the ones we saw at the harbour earlier|
|and taking a breather|
|while Ginny pottered around|
|Brendan put up his contribution|
|his version, of course|
Ginny and Sern then took us to Marina Mall for a coffee break.
|another purple fossil|
|like the one we came across at Dubai Mall|
|however this fossil held a twist in the plot|
|since it was able to change colours|
|a multi-coloured fossil|
|would you imagine that?|
|as we rode the elevator|
|headed up the tower|
Unbeknownst to us, we were about to enjoy coffee perched atop the peak of Marina Tower at a café known as Colombiano Coffee House. Located on top of the Tower in the Marina Mall the cafe offers great views overlooking the gulf.
|we came here for the coffee|
|but above all else|
|we came here for the view|
|as far as the eye could see|
|an amazing view of Abu Dhabi|
|and the Gulf in the distance|
After a breather Ginny and Sern took us for a drive along Corniche Road to take in the sights of the namesake, Corniche Beach. We parked here and meant to make our way to a heritage village run by the Emirates Heritage Club which was a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village providing a glimpse into the emirate’s past. Alas, when we got there it was past four in the afternoon and the village was already closed.
|we were not aware at the time|
|but the heritage village had limited visiting hours|
|and was closed by 4:00pm|
|we will back back some day|
|that is a promise|
Undeterred by the small setback, Ginny and Sern then took us on another drive inland due east where we laid sight on an Arabic architectural masterpiece, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. So as to do it all the justice it deserved, we have a separate post for this magnificent mosque.
Almost two hours later, we headed to Yas Mall for a night cap (non-alcoholic, of course) at a café called the Jamaica Blue Café. We later learnt that this café had closed down a few short months later.
|a welcomed respite after a two hour tour|
|serving exquisite poison|
|latte all around|
|refreshing and relaxing|
|a shame that it closed, though|