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Wednesday 28 December 2016

UAE 2016 Day 06: Abu Dhabi!

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. For all its attractions Dubai felt impersonal somehow, while Abu Dhabi feels homely.

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.

Manna Land

specialising in Korean and Japanese cuisine

in the heart of downtown Abu Dhabi

as we sat and waited for Sern

Ginny proceeded to order

delicious side dishes

of kimchi

many variants to offer

the cuttlefish dish

Ginny booked a private room

as more dishes arrived

can't recall what this was

this too


Brendan's kimchi stew?

After brunch, we headed out to 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.

nothing extraordinary

but an adrenaline rush just the same

ciao Al Mamoura

We arrived at 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?


yet new


all that silver and gold

many items here

bore the UAE emblem
serving trays

and all many of crockery

imagine that?

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


haggling away

ooh lala

seafood heaven

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

walking in

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, as well as surprise us a gorgeous view of Abu Dhabi.

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

A pity that this cafe has since closed down.

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 for the day.

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 coffee shop called the Jamaica Blue. 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

Thus ends our first day of exploring Abu Dhabi, be sure to tune in for our posts of tomorrow’s gallivanting. Staying true to form, Ginny and Sern has promised us another day of fun, exhilaration and awe tomorrow!

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