I recently had the opportunity to make my first trip to the Middle East — specifically to two of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi and Dubai — along with a half-dozen other Chamber executives from Virginia, Philadelphia, and several towns near Toronto, Canada, courtesy of Abu Dhabi tourism and coordinated by Indus Travels‘ Praveen Syal (two 4 1/2-minute jam-packed highlight compilations below).
This was a “FAM” (familiarization) trip to gauge our interest in offering a trip to the UAE to our members. I am happy to report that this trip is well worthwhile and that because Indus is offering such a great price for Chamber members — $2,499 including airfare, hotel, breakfasts, and some other meals, your Chamber is offering this trip to you in March 2014 (non-Chamber members +$200 each – details below). It is such an easy trip for English speakers — everything there is completely Westernized; everyone speaks English; all signs are in English; and you will even find many familiar eateries — Subway is prevalent — and even retail shops from IKEA to Ace Hardware!
But you will see things in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that you will not see anywhere else, the first, biggest, newest technology, and tallest of everything.
<Story continues below the following two video highlights presented via links to your Arcadia Chamber’s YouTube Channel…>
Abu Dhabi (go inside two of the world’s most extravagant hotels, see the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World, and the world’s most oppulent horse track, and more)…
Dubai (below – go up in tallest building, snow ski in a mall; take wild ride on desert dunes, see the world’s most amazing buildings, and more)…
Immediately after leaving the 108-degree heat to go snow skiing in Dubai, I took the opportunity to make a side trip to the incredible Meydan horse (and camel) racecourse and staggeringly beautiful Meydan Hotel. That was before we all met up again to go have afternoon tea at The Atlantis on The Palm, from where a few of us rode the monorail back to our Radisson hotel in Media City of Dubai.
And we had our eyes opened and learned a lot about the UAE, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. For instance, did you know…
- The first Louvre museum outside of Paris will open in Abu Dhabi in 2015.
- A new Guggenheim museum will open in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
- The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai — built to look like a sail on a man-made island off the coast of Dubai, with rooms starting at $1,000 each and offering a gold-plated IPad to every guest to use during their stay — cost $2 billion to build and there were no expectations that future revenue would ever cover the cost.
- The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper or structure of any kind in the world by a long shot at 2,722 feet — 200 stories. It took less than six years to build. The indoor-outdoor observation deck is only a little more than halfway up and still higher than most other buildings at 120 stories.
- Dubai Mall is one of largest in world with more than 1,200 shops, a huge walk-through aquarium, a full-size ice skating rink, and a giant water falls with public art in the middle of it.
- The new Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhab next to the Grand Mosque is one of the three biggest Ritz Carlton hotels in the world.
- Ski Dubai offers full ski lifts, skiing and other winter sports at below freezing temperatures inside the Emirates shopping mall just a few yards from outside temperatures of more than 100 degrees (108 when we were there in May — 80s in the wintertime; 120s in the summer).
- Abu Dhabi, the capital and second largest emirate of the UAE, stands for “father of the gazelle” (Legend that a Bedouin man was chased by gazelle until he fell and then discovered supply of water.)
- Only about 140,000 of the nearly 2.5 million people of Dubai, the largest Emirate, are indigenous “emirates” (pronounced Em-er-ah-tees). Only about 20% of the entire UAE population are local emirates of Arab ethnicity. The rest are recent immigrants since 1991-92 from countries such as the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Japan, China, Canada, England, Scotland, France, and many others.
- Almost all drinking water has to go thru de-salination plant
- Drinking water costs only a few pennies per bottle.
- Gas prices only about 40-cents per liter ($1.50 per gallon).
- No taxes on anything.
- School/work week runs Sunday-Thursday. Does not end with day of rest on Sunday because their holy day is Friday, then they end with free day on Saturday.
- United Arab Emirates have only been around since they discovered oil here in 1971 – prior to that only a small part of Abu Dhabi was inhabited, primarily by pearl divers. Thus, almost everything in the UAE is brand new and features the latest technology.
- Abu Dhabi has 85% of oil of the seven emirates of UAE
- While Abu Dhabi has enough oil to last 40-50 years, Dubai oil supplies will run dry in four-to-five years, and thus Dubai is already relying more on tourism for income, and rapidly increasing emphasis on tourism as well as finance.
- Dubai Media City and its Internet City is filled with tall buildings featuring names of many prominent Western media and tech companies ranging from BBC Worldwide, Canon, CNN, CNBC, and Dow Jones to Forbes, Microsoft, Oracle, and Sony Pictures.
- Falcons are considered a status symbol as a pet and sell for about $50,000 each.
- The roller coaster at Ferrari World is the fastest out of the gate in the world, pressing your head against the back of the seat as it does an F1-like acceleration from a dead stop to 150 mph in the first five seconds before sending bolting straight up towards the sky.
If you would like to experience this fascinating world of the new UAE, your Chamber is offering a special trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi at a very special rate of only $2,499 for Chamber members and their families or friends (based on two people staying in same room – $495 extra for single hotel room guest – note: the Ritz Carlton and Etihad Towers hotel featured in video are not included in this trip, but we stayed in one of the hotels included below, the very elegant Eastern Mangroves hotel which we highly recommend).
Please let us know right away if you are interested in this trip (text details below flier). Or contact Indus Travel, Karen Samuel, at Keren@indus.travel
Tel: 604 279 8794 Ext: 806.
TOUR NAME: DUBAI & ABU DHABI
TOUR DAYS: 7 Days
Per Chamber member with minimum of two people staying in same room (two beds): USD $2,499 (+$200 per non-Chamber member)
Per person traveling alone: add $495.00
Mar 18, 2014
TOUR LODGING INFO:
PLACE NO. OF NIGHTS DELUXE HOTEL
Dubai 03 Nights Grand Millennium Hotel
Abu Dhabi 02 Nights Anantra Eastern Mangrove
(If the above mentioned hotel is not available we will provide a similar alternative)
• International return airfare from JFK to Dubai including taxes
• Deluxe hotels
• Daily buffet breakfast
• 2 special dinners
Arrival and departure transfers
• Licensed English speaking guides
• Half day desert safari with BBQ dinner
• Dhow Cruise with dinner.
• Meals are indicated on the itinerary by (B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
• Unlimited Mineral water on board coach
• Luggage handling
• Items of a personal nature
• Visa fees (if applicable)
• Beverages with meals
• Meals not indicated as being included
• Early check in or late check out at the hotel
• Items not mentioned as being included on the itinerary
• Optional tours or sightseeing
• Tips and gratuities
• Travel Insurance
• Add $300 if you would like to depart from DFW/IAH/IAD/SEA
Day 1: USA TO DUBAI
Depart from USA for your flight to Dubai.
DAY 2: DUBAI
Arrive at Dubai International Airport and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Dubai
DAY 3: DUBAI
Your morning Dubai city tour will give you a glimpse of its ancient and traditional Arabian culture and heritage mixed with the modern cosmopolitan lifestyle will give you a fascinating historical excursion and orientation of the city. First we pass the beautiful flamingo lagoon. Our route takes us to Nad Al Sheba – home of the famous camel & horse race track. We will visit the new falcon market, where you can see closely these amazing birds. Then we drive through Jumeirah and all its popular hotels until we reach the magnificent Jumeirah Mosque which shows the beauty of Islamic architecture (the mosque can only be visited on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 10:00am with a reservation). We move on to the Bastakiya area, where we stop to admire the old wind-tower houses built by wealthy merchants. Close by, stands the 150-years old Al Fahidi Fort, which now houses the Dubai Museum. The museum records the city’s past as an important pearl diving and trading centre. We continue our journey by Abra – a local water taxi which had survived the city’s modernization over the centuries and brings us the spice and gold souk. The spice trade gives the city its special oriental atmosphere. This evening you may want to enjoy an optional dhow dinner cruise.
Afternoon Optional Ski Dubai Tour (2 hrs – see video above): Dubai has a well –deserved reputation as one of the craziest places on Earth. You will discover the only Alpine skiing slope with real snow in the middle of the desert. Yes it is unique! It is located at the Mall of the Emirates. Ski Dubai has 5 runs that vary in difficulty, height and gradient, the longest run being 400 meters with a fall of over 60 meters. Test your skills on the world’s first indoor black run or practice your turns on the gentle beginner slopes. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will enjoy these various slopes and snowboarders can also practice their stunts in the Freestyle Zone. Kids and parents alike will have fun in the huge interactive Snow Park, which at 3000 square meters is the largest indoor snow park in the world. You don’t have to worry about ski clothing or equipment either. Ski Dubai has thought of it all and offers guests the use of winter clothing, ski and snowboard equipment. Your skis will carry you down the slope, and our quad-chairlift and tow lift will promptly carry you back to the top for another run.
What’s included in your Slope Pass: Jacket, Trousers, Skis Ski Boots, Snowboard, Snowboard Boots, Ski poles and disposable socks.
**Please note that guests need to meet our minimum skill requirements to be able to access the main slope. Skiers and snowboarders not meeting these skill requirements will need to take lessons.
Evening: Dhow Dinner Cruise: Lined with dhows, the Dubai Creek offers a picturesque glimpse of Dubai’s trading heritage. You will have a chance to see the traditional abras (water taxis), which provide economical transport across the Creek for local residents. You will also have an excellent view of the Heritage and Diving Villages, and the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House – is a national monument that showcases the history and development of Dubai. Overnight at your hotel in Dubai (B/D)
DAY 4: DUBAI
Breakfast at the hotel. Enjoy this morning at leisure. This afternoon travel in luxury 4×4 vehicles through the desert. Experience the Arabian and Bedouin way of life in the desert. We will travel in the desert enjoying thrilling roller-coaster rides on the sand dunes and watch the beautiful sunset before arriving at your “BEDOUIN VILLAGE camp” (see video above)– a place that is practically in the middle of nowhere. Enjoy the different activities on site or just simply laze on the pillows with a Shi Sha or wander around the camp:
• Take a short camel ride: Camels are for the desert what cars are for the city. Everyone should enjoy the experience of a camel ride. Camels are said to be God’s gift to Bedouins. People in the early days used the camels either for trading or for transporting goods from one place to another. Journeys were always done in groups known as caravans.
• Sit around the fire, dress in traditional Bedouin robes, sip the aromatic Arabic coffee or tea and try the hubbly-bubbly, henna painting and a fortune teller. A memorable experience and great picture of this “A la mode” way of life in the middle of the desert.
• Experience Sand surfing: Sand surfing, using a snowboard, on the silken dunes of the UAE is an experience you’ll remember for ever. It is recommend that those wanting to participate should be relatively fit as not only will your be boarding down dunes but you will need to climb back up the sandy slope. Sand surfing has become the favorite of sport lovers both for its innovative-ness and safety, as a fall only means a soft and warm embrace of the sand. With practice you become less conscious of the sport itself and begin to enjoy the wind in your face as you speed down.
A delicious BBQ dinner will be served with Middle Eastern specialties cooked on site including chicken, lamb, Shish Kebab, hummus, tabouli and many other famous Arabic dishes. Finish of your Arabic adventure with a belly dancer performing right after dinner. You are invited to join in the fun on the dance floor before winding up this evening adventure. Return to your Hotel after Belly dance show. Overnight at your hotel in Dubai (B, D)
DAY 5: DUBAI – ABU DHABI
After breakfast transfer to Abu Dhabi – A tour of the UAE capital usually takes in everything from the evolving skyline to sandy shores and iconic buildings. A stroll along the Corniche will give you a glimpse of everyday Abu Dhabi life and the chance to savour some picturesque scenes. A half-day tour will include the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (see video above), the Abu Dhabi Corniche, Saadiyat Island Cultural District Exhibition at Emirates Palace and the Heritage Village. Overnight at your hotel in Abu Dhabi (B)
DAY 6: ABU DHABI
Full day at leisure for your own activities or take optional activities.
Optional – Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi is the world’s first Ferrari theme park and largest attraction of its kind. It is an intense multi-sensory experience and a must-visit for families, fans and enthusiasts. Spend half day at Ferari theme park. (See video above.)
Optional – Play a round of golf at one of the world renowned golf courses in Abu Dhabi.
Overnight at your hotel in Abu Dhabi (B)
DAY 7: DEPARTURE TO USA
Transfer to Dubai International Airport for your flight back home. (B)
END OF OUR SERVICES