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Monday, February 10, 2014

Things to do in Dubai : Ride the Dhow Cruise

by Shawi Cortez

Dhow is arabic for traditional sailing vessels

A dhow cruise in Dubai means to cruise through either Dubai Creek or Marina in a dhow, while enjoying a scrumptious dinner.

My friend booked me on a dhow cruise with Rustar, the only 5-star dhow in Bur Dubai Creek.

The cruise was scheduled at 9pm, but they were receiving guests for boarding as early as 8:30pm.

As it was raining outside, and a bit chilly for me, the warm towel they handed the moment I stepped into the boat was such a welcome treat.

I quickly downed the glass of fruit juice they served as a welcome drink. We waited a few more minutes for the other passengers to arrive, and the vessel slowly began to cruise.

Dinner was served shortly and the line to the buffet table easily filled up. There were salads, traditional Arabic food (flat bread and dippings), meat, pasta, and an entire table of desserts and fresh fruits.

While we ate, we were entertained by a Russian singer with a couple of songs. Once we settled in and finished dinner, the traditional Tanoura dance was performed to delight the guests.

After the dancers spinned continuously without showing signs of dizziness, they engaged the crowd and invited guests to try it out. Two other ladies tried it and I boldly volunteered to do the same.

They had me wear the tanoura (skirt) and it was soooo heavy! I posed for the camera with the dancers, and I started spinning. I think I only turned five (5)times and got dizzy, and managed to go back to my seat like a drunk lady. So much for trying it out.

I returned back the skirt and the owner's son approached me if I'd like to have my photo printed. For 30 dirhams. I said yes. I said no. My answer must have been a first for him, and caught him by surprise because he chuckled at my facial reaction.

I insisted on having him email the photo instead. He left and headed towards the other ladies.

The rest of the time was left for us to enjoy the creek and to take photos inside the dhow.

with Mark, Hermie, Ara, Grace

posing with the captain

at the den, where the dancers were chilling out

Before the cruise ended, the two ladies got their printed copies. My cousin was prodding me to get mine. But I didn't budge. I went up to the owner and gave him my email address, not knowing if he'd send the photo to me or not.

But he did! After a few days :)
Thank you Vladimir for this lovely photo.

Book your Dhow Cruise in Dubai (Bur Dubai Creek) with :

Gulf Sun Travel and Tourism

Thank you Ara for this wonderful treat :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Things to do in Dubai : Desert Safari

by Shawi Cortez

At 2:30pm, the driver picked us up promptly at Discovery Gardens, where I was staying with my cousins.

Our ride was a cruiser, specially built for sand dune bashing.

Desert safaris usually happen in different places. Our safari was in the deserts of Narwa.

The drive took around 45 minutes before our driver Raj, stopped for a pit stop. 5 minute break to the toilet for us, and enough time for them to deflate the tires. This was in preparation for the adrenaline-pumping ride in the sand dunes we signed up for. The tires have to be softer than usual so it doesn't burst in the heat and abrupt manoeuvring.

drivers deflating the tires

We haven't even reached our meet up point with the other cruisers, yet Raj was already giving us a foretaste of what's to come. It was a short roller coaster ride we enjoyed, which he didn't announce, and which we didn't prepare for by buckling our seats. As he heard giggles and chuckles from the back, I think he also enjoyed giving us a teaser.

The other riders were already in place when we arrived, and our fleet was composed of 5 vehicles, with a Hummer leading the pack.

I wish I could post photos or videos of our ride here, but I value my life more than these :)


sand dunes

fleet of dune bashers

Hummer leading the fleet

"Ira, halika pa-picture tayo dun sa may Hummer"

"ayan, kunyari ito yung ride natin"

with cousins, Makiboy, Ben (Dubai videographer) and Candy

The dune driving lasted for about 30 minutes until we parked our Land Cruiser in a camp where dinner is served and a show awaits the guests.

It was still early for dinner, so we whiled away the time riding a camel, taking pictures with a falcon, getting a henna painting on our hands, and lining up for free chai or coffee.

camel ride

with my cousin Ben (Dubai videographer)

cartwheels pag may time

hindi kaya ako tukain nito?

our safari camp

where we settled in 

dining tables with carpet and pillows
inside one of the Bedouin tents

i got a henna painting

By 7pm, the crowd gathered at the centre of the camp to watch the program. The opening act was a magic show, which was then followed by the main performance : Tanoura Dance.


Tanoura is a folkloric dance of Arabs. Tanoura means skirt in English and it is usually performed by Sufi men with Sufi music, who spin continuously like the dervish dancers in Turkey.

We were wowed by the fact that they didn't even get dizzy or showed signs of discomfort after spinning for almost half an hour.

Then the much awaited BBQ dinner. Two lines were made. One for males, and another for females. I'm amazed that it was done in an orderly fashion. And someone is actually manning the line. He'd also make sure that no one was blocking the line so that the flow would be continuous. The separate queue led to the salads, and the carbohydrates (arabic bread, pasta, rice). Then the line converges to just one for the barbecue. We were given a stick each of chicken, beef, and some fried indian food (samosa).

After dinner, the men in the crowd got excited. Belly dance was next.

Belly dance is the traditional dance of middle east, also known as raqs baladi. Raqs baladi is the traditional dance of Arabs and is the folkloric style, usually danced socially at festive occasions such as weddings.

Photo Credit : ©David Bowden, Source : National Features

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Things to do in Dubai for FREE : Walk along Jumeirah Beach

It was a case of a little misunderstanding and miscommunication. I originally wanted to go to Madinat Jumeirah and ride an abra (traditional boat made of wood) to see the Burj Al Arab up close, but my cousin prompted me to get off the bus a little early.

inside the bus stop

enclosed bus stops in Dubai

checking bus stop timings. 

waiting for our bus

Our bus stopped and we alighted at Saeed Majid Bil Yoja Mosque, one of the many bus stops at Jumeirah Road. When I told my cousin that we should be getting off at Jumeirah Beach Resort, google said that it was 25 minutes away, by walking.

the Burj Al Arab seemed a a far way off

So instead of getting on a bus again, we decided to walk.

And we were offered a delightful scenery of the Jumeirah Beach as we walked our way south towards the Burj Al Arab.

Jumeirah beach. On the other side is the paved road

tourist buses and luxury cars ply the road along Jumeirah beach

houses just opposite the beach

protecting myself from the sand. 


local Emiratis feeding the seagulls

Arab women enjoying the beach view

just some of the posh cars that abound in Dubai

mosque near our bus stop

Burj Al Arab at sunset

So if you're looking for something FREE to do while in Dubai, a walk along the beach of Jumeirah during sunset allows you to enjoy the scenery with a nice cool weather.

And if you just walk until the end, you'll be treated to a close up view of the 7-star hotel in Dubai, Burj Al Arab, wherein you don't have to pay a hefty price to get a cup of coffee.


Finally, Burj al Arab!