Random Angle (Post#1) : WAFI – Pyramids and Egyptian Themed Buildings
WAFI is one of the mall in Dubai that has unique exterior design of its building because it has EGYPTIAN theme architecture design. Because of my curiosity, I asked my college friend whom accompanied me in some nights while I was in Dubai, why WAFI has Egyptian style, and she told me that the owner of the mall are quite fascinated with Egyptian culture. It is one of the malls that I really like because I myself curious to understand the Egypt pyramids and the story behind it. Photo captured last August 2014.
When I went to Dubai, I had a chance to visit the capital city of United Arab Emirates which is the Abu Dhabi. From Dubai, it is just 1.5 to 2 hours travel. I came to this city with my college friend through the bus we took from Al Ghubaiba Bus Terminal. We used NOL card in our travel but before that, we made sure that it has at least 100 AED to cover our return travel.
At the start of the trip, I fell asleep immediately but it didn’t last long because I suddenly woke-up due to the loud voice I heard coming from the driver. After that I was not able to sleep anymore until we reached Abu Dhabi. We arrived at Al Wahda bus terminal in Abu Dhabi, where there is a nearby mall with the same name – Al Wahda mall. At the mall we had our lunch first before we started our tour.
It’s a hot sunny Saturday that day, I myself does not really want to walk outside because in just a matter of few minutes, my whole body will be soak in sweat, which is an uncomfortable feeling while traveling around. We decided to visit first the famous mosque not only in UAE but even in the world, it is non other than Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We took cab from Al Wahda mall to the grand mosque. Seeing the mosque from afar is already amazing, being there is another thing.
We arrived at the mosque and my first impression is, it is like an all white mosque. And the design of the mosque is magnificent. I saw a lot of mosque from other countries but for me, this one is like a palace mosque, not only because of its size but the impression struck on me when I saw on it are purity and tranquility. I learned that the mosque is the largest mosque in UAE and the eight largest mosque in the world. I am aware that before we were able to get inside the mosque, we need to change our clothes to Abhayas, we lent it (required with ID) from the visitor center located at the lower ground of the mosque (tourist will be informed by the security guards of its location). After changing to appropriate attire, we started our mini tour inside the mosque.
Snapshots outside of the mosque
At the front, left and right side of the mosque, you can find a pool which refreshing from the eye because of the ocean like color of the pool. While walking along the hallway, I admire the details of the design and to think its a hallway and not the main hall yet. When we came at the mosque, we are not allowed to walk just anywhere in the Courtyard (it is the huge open space at the front of the main prayer hall), we walked in the middle of the courtyard when we are on our way to the main hall of the mosque.
At the hallway
One of the ceilings that I saw while walking along the hallway
The open space called Courtyard and the main hall
On my way to the main entrance of the main prayer hall
shoe cabinet at the entrance of the main hall
Before we enter in the main prayer hall, we removed our shoes and put it in the cabinet allocated just outside the main hall. The cold breeze we felt at the entrance of the main hall was refreshing maybe because of the hot temperature outside the mosque. At the entrance, we saw a magnificent chandelier and the ceiling design that it has. I was really amazed how grandeur it is. At that moment, I can really say it deserve to be called grand mosque. And the glass door has great designs embedded with bright colors that for me, it’s like a magic door that if you open, there are great things to see.
Entrance of the main prayer hall
My expectations became higher and higher which I was not disappointed because at the time that I entered the main prayer hall the majestic hall design are far greater from the entrance, details to its architecture and interior design are noticeable that what you can say is it’s amazing. Looking at the interior design, you can tell that the time it was being build, it was thought carefully and the outcome is magnificent. We walked silently as to show respect to the mosque but my eyes keep on looking around the hall and I took pictures as much as I can to remember all the things that I saw inside the main prayer hall. I respected the people who put an effort to build the mosque because they show how high they regard their belief through the building of the said mosque.
Magnificent Chandelier in the middle of the Main Prayer Hall inside the mosque
Interior design inside the mosque
Open space – courtyard
After spending sometime inside the mosque, we decided to go to Marina Island. We went straight to Marina Mall and had our snacks at Marina Tower. Marina Tower is a good place to see most of the Abu Dhabi in a relaxing way where you will not suffer from hot sunny day. There are restaurants where you can have a great view from the top of Emirates Palace, Presidential Palace, the business district of the city and beaches along the coast line.
Marina Tower in Marina Island
Some scenery to be found inside Marina Mall
Elevator to the top of Marina Tower
Marina Village at the bottom, Emirates Palace at the top
Scenery from the top of Marina Tower
Sunset View near Marina Village Seawall
New Presidential Palace
Snapshots from the ground of Marina Island
Some photos outside Marina Mall near at Marina Mall Ring Road
Like Dubai, there are on going constructions in different parts of Abu Dhabi, not looking far away, the corner of the Marina Island, development still in progress. In such as desert place, I am still surprised how people able to live in a place where there is no natural resources such as food and other immediate needs of people. I heard from my friend that UAE are all importing most of the goods they need like food such as rice and vegetables, because there is no place in this country that will allow them for farming. By knowing that, I understand that this country has rich and great economy because they are able to surpass the challenges of the desert that they are living in.
I know there are still other places to see in Abu Dhabi, but unfortunately our day was over and we cannot stay longer in the city as we need to go back to Dubai. I enjoyed my day in the city and wished that someday I can still go back and see the other places that I missed to see. Until then.
It was Sunday, my last day in Dubai as holiday. In Dubai or let’s say UAE (not sure if all Arab countries are the same), they started their weekday on Sunday and will last on Thursday. Therefore, they treated Friday and Saturday as their weekends. Because I will be traveling alone, I booked a bus tour which is hop-in and hop-out bus tour type. Though there are places included in the tracks that I already visited, I still join the tour since it is the cheapest way to go around the city since I can’t rent a car because I don’t know how to drive.
Here are the routes of the BigBus Tour that I booked:
1. Red Route (City Route)
b. Creek Park
c. Creek Walk
d. Al Fahidi Port
e. Old Souk
f. Heritage Village
g. Gold Souk
h. Spice Souk
i. Abra Station
k. Deira City Centre
2. Blue Route (Marina Route)
b. Union House
c. Jumeirah Mosque
e. Jumeirah Beach Park
f. Jumeirah Public Beach
h. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
i. Atlantis On The Palm
j. Mall of Emirates
k. The Dubai Mall
3. Night Tour
a. Sheikh Zayed Road
b. Burj Al Arab
c. Palm Jumeirah
d. Skycraper City
e. Burj Khalifa
f. Downtown Dubai
g. WAFI Light and Sound Show
Self tour within the area: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Mall of Emirates
Since I have one day left, I did not go anymore to the places that I already seen and visited. And because it still summer in Dubai, the hardest part is walking outside in a hot sunny day. During the day tour, I went outside the bus when we arrived at the Public Beach of Jumeirah and Souk Madinat Jumeirah which both belong to Blue route or Marina route. I stayed inside the bus in other location because I am maximizing the time that I still have to see much as I can. The places I saw from the bus in this route are: the 2nd of December Street (from the formal date of nationalization of UAE from British), Union House (where the UAE was form and the huge flagpole of UAE located), Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato (an Italian themed mall), and Jumeirah Beach Park (which exclusive only for women).
At WAFI (day time)
Raffles Dubai in WAFI (at day time)
Around WAFI (at daytime)
Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)
Etisalat Tower 2 (along Sheikh Zayed Road)
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
I got off from the bus when we arrived at Public Beach of Jumeirah because I thought I can take pictures there, but unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures in the beach that was why I was not able to take pictures of Burj Al Arab from that place. My disappointment in the beach was gone when I went to Souk Madinat which can be found inside Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I was really fascinated with the place because of unique style of the market and the structure design of the hotel that you will really feel you are in an arab desert place. I went outside the souk and found a great place to capture Burj Al Arab hotel from Souk Madinat or from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I realized that I was standing in some part of the luxurious resort hotel in Dubai. Though not all part are free to all tourist, it was just part where there are restaurants outside the hotel. I enjoyed the place and if I will be given a chance to come back, I hope I can stay in Madinat Jumeirah Hotel resort.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah Entrance
Inside Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Around Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Another area that I enjoyed without getting off the bus is the Palm Jumeirah. A famous man-made palm shape structure island, where you can find luxurious hotels and residential homes of rich people. I never realized how big Palm Jumeirah until our bus entered the island. There are lots of residential and buildings already exist and other structures are still being built. For me the place is already beautiful and I was excited when we saw Altantis The Palm hotel from a far. I can’t believe my eyes that I am seeing the hotel which I only saw in the movie of “Sex and the City”. It is a huge hotel that I was not able to capture the whole building with my phone when we were at the front of the hotel. Atlantis is another luxurious hotel that exist in Dubai, I can’t imagine how much it will cost when you stay even for one night.
View while entering Palm Jumeirah (Burj Al Arab from a far)
Atlantis The Palm (at Palm Jumeirah)
View of Dubai Marina from Palm Jumeirah
Next places I saw in daylight are Mall of Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, I took photos of these building again while inside the rooftop of the bus.
Novotel (at Sheikh Zayed Road) where I stayed in my first 5 nights in Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel
Mall of Emirates
Souk Al Bahar (near in Burj Khalifa)
After completing the blue route, I transferred in Red route or City route bus and in this tour, I saw more of Deira area and its old downtown. I saw the Creek River, Creek Park, wooden Arabian Dhow, Al Fahidi Port, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Abra Station, Baniyas and Deira City Centre.
Creek Park Main Gate (at Al Riyadh St)
wooden arabian dhow in Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Wooden Arabian Dhow
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Deira Old Souk
RTA Marine Transport at Baniyas Road
Deira City Center
While waiting for my night tour, I did some souvenir and gift shopping, these gifts serve as a token to give to my relatives and coworkers when I returned in my country.
The last part of the tour is the night tour where I witness and discovered how grandiose the city of Dubai at night-time. We drove again at the same route of Blue route. Here I saw Dubai differently and witness how beautiful Dubai City is during night hours.
The night tour concluded. And I returned straight from Deira City Centre to my hotel almost 11PM. This was how I ended my last day in Dubai. I hoped that I can go back again in this beautiful city someday because I know there are more places to discover and my few days are not enough to see them all, if I will be given a chance, at least I wanted to live here for almost a year to learn more about Arab culture and its country.
It was Tuesday, second day of training, I focus my mind in the training knowing that I am going to enjoy another night in Dubai. I met my friend in Burjuman metro interchange station. Then, we transferred to green line going to Etisalat and got off at Dubai Healthcare City station. From the station, we walked for few minutes until we reached the WAFI city mall.
According to my friend the owner of WAFI city are inspired in Egyptian culture, that is why WAFI city mall were designed with the touch of Egyptian architectural design. Comparing the number of people visiting WAFI and Dubai mall, there are big differences. When we visited WAFI city mall, there are few people inside, you can count people whom you can pass by. I am not sure if WAFI mall targeted few people as their customer. There are luxurious store you can find in that mall, one reason why it’s not popular to the general masses or maybe the problem is the location. I can’t really give it as serious thoughts. Even though there are few people visiting the mall, I enjoyed walking around WAFI, because same with the owner of WAFI City, I like the pyramid because of mystery surrounded by it, I felt that I traveled in Egypt.
Some external view of WAFI (above photos)
Some interior design you can find at WAFI (above photos)
Raffles Dubai (at night-time)
There is one interesting place inside WAFI city that I really like, it is “Khan Murjan” (based from the mall directory brochure that I got, Khan Murjan is the legendary 14th century souk in Baghdad which is a hub for travelers and artisans). You can see how unique the place is. And even the restaurant inside it, it’s definitely has Arabian culture spirit.
After taking more minutes in strolling in the mall, we had our dinner and we waited for the light and sound show. The show entitled “Returns of the Pharaohs” which shown across the Pyramids and the other Egyptian themed buildings in the Central Courtyard in WAFI city mall.
Khan Murjan (one of the authentic arabian experience market and restaurants)
Inside of Khan Murjan (above photos)
That night ended again with feel of accomplishment by seeing another part of Dubai.
I never thought that time will come that I will be able to visit a city belong to Middle East Asia. One main reason, limitation of my passport in terms of visa free entry to different countries in the world. I read an article that my country are only allowed to 50 countries with visa free entry. And most of the countries included in the list are part of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) countries and countries which mostly considered as 3rd world country similar to my homeland.
I am lucky because of my work, I am able to travel in other countries because of project assignment and training. Last August 2014, my boss sent me abroad for training. The training is 4 days and the location is Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During the preparation process of my travel, this was before my final flight schedule has been arranged, I tried if I can add few more days from the original schedule plan. The end result, I was able to put additional 3 days from original 5 days travel after finding return flight which is cheaper from the original schedule.
My flight to Dubai was Sunday morning before 9AM leaving Manila and arriving in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 through Emirates airline. The flight was 8 hours. We landed at Dubai International Airport the same day past 1:30 in the afternoon. Dubai is 4 hours behind from Manila time.
Dubai International Airport are known to be similar to Singapore International Airport because this airport becomes a hub for stop over terminal for most of international flights from Asia, America and Europe countries. It is like interchange airport. As we know that this city is booming its tourism industry for the past couple of years, Dubai Airport terminals had recent massive renovations and improvements. Terminal 3 is home of Emirates airline. Before arriving in this terminal, the only picture in my mind regarding Dubai Airport was based from what I saw in National Geographic TV show with an impression that it’s really huge. When I got off the plane and walk along the arrival terminal, I found out that it has similarity to Incheon International Airport where I need to ride a skytrain. Having a skytrain means one thing, the terminal is not just big, it’s ultimately big. Its size is massive, though I may not seen it all, but as far as what I saw, it’s not an ordinary airport. I don’t have photo souvenirs of the terminal during my arrival because I tried my best to behave myself since I am in a foreign country. I have this impression that though Dubai is popular Arab city with freedom, I kept myself in check and restrain myself on doing things that I am not sure if allowed, like taking pictures inside the terminal.
After I transferred from the terminal to concourse using skytrain, I walked straight to immigration area for passport and visa check. As I’m not used to Arab world, I was bit surprised when I saw all the immigration officers in their Muslim outfit, after seeing what officers are wearing, that was the very moment that I realized that I am really in Dubai, an Arab city. At the front of the officer, he checked my passport and requested my visa, and then a photo of myself was taken.
My luggage platform was far from the passport control check, and for this reason, I had a chance to walk for a while inside the terminal. The terminal is really big and its clean. Though one thing that I just noticed, the ambiance of the lights in overall are quite dim for me, not sure if there some reason behind it or it was the design of the lights. I found the platform and waited for my luggage. When I found my luggage, I straight forward on my way to exit, passing the custom area easier since I just have one luggage, one laptop and hand bag. Then, I tried to look around to find some tourist information booth but unluckily I did not find brochures aside from travel company booths and information center. I approached the information center and asked if the airport cabs accepts credit card since I did not withdraw too much of cash. Someone responded to me and to my surprise, a Filipina woman talked to me in my own language. For that inquiry, I learned that there are two types of taxi airport in Dubai, one is the ordinary which only accepts cash and black limousine cab which accepts credit card.
I exited the terminal, to my surprise I felt the hot temperature outside and that kind of heat was first time, never experienced it before, it felt very hot and very dry. I walked to the taxi lane where the limousine cab is waiting. I got in and told the driver where my hotel is. While on our way, I learned from the driver that there are lots of Filipinos working in Dubai, wherein he himself has a lot of Filipino friends. He told me as well that the current temperature at that time was around 50 degrees Celsius (that temperature is higher than the temperature of a person with fever).
From the airport to hotel it took us at least 30 minutes and there was no traffic at all. While inside the cab, I realized that Dubai is a big city and not just a city but a developed modern city. I can’t believe with my eyes that this kind of city will exist from the desert world. Though Dubai is really famous, I don’t know much about it, my idea was came from the movie of Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol where some shots were taken from the tallest tower in the world – Burj Khalifa.
Within the 30 minutes drive, most of that time were spent along Sheikh Zayed Road (named after the first president of United Arab Emirates and the principal driving force to form UAE as a country – Sheikh Zayed). Along this road, we passed a lot of towers, high-rise buildings and structures. In this road, I got a chance to glimpse the Burj Khalifa from a far and then after few more minutes I arrived at Novotel Albarsha, where I stayed for 5 nights and where the training was held.
When I entered the hotel, I saw familiar faces, I saw Filipinos working in the hotel and Filipinos whose traveling similar in my case. Some Filipinos working are assigned in concierge and some are assigned at the lobby counter. With this scenario, I felt at ease, seeing people same with my own race and nationality makes me feel comfortable in a foreign land. After processing my check-in, I went straight to my room. I checked the time and it was past 3:30 PM, since it’s still early, I thought that I can still go out for few hours to see some part of Dubai, but unfortunately, I fell asleep, time passed faster that I anticipated and I woke-up past 10 PM in the evening. Because of this, the only thing I got to do was to have dinner and to prepare myself for the first day of my training. In between the time that I arrived from the airport and from the time I fell asleep in the hotel, I was able to send messages to my college classmate and friend who currently living and working in Dubai. She is my personal contact outside work who can go help me while going around Dubai.
During my stay in Dubai, I tried my best to see places as much as I can because I don’t know if I will be able to come back. I will tell a story of all the places that I have seen so far in Dubai. Below are the list of the places that I visited in Dubai, each day has its own posted story to tell to distinguish the places that I had seen and experience.