Julie United Arab Emirates 13 Comments

Our visit to the United Arab Emirates was very brief, really just a layover between South Africa and Nepal on our trip around the world. The UAE is a country that Tim has always dream of visiting, these cities born from oil and paved with gold. We had three days of luxury before heading to Nepal, a country on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to wealth.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi was our first stop. Stepping off the airplane we were immediately greeted by the oppressive heat of September. What a difference from the cool, dry winter of South Africa! We got around by taxi here; it was much too hot for us to do any real walking. We learned our lesson when we walked a few blocks down by the beach, ending up drenched in sweat after just a few minutes.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is gorgeous, probably one of the most beautiful buildings we have seen yet. It is almost brand new, constructed between 1996 to 2007.

Grand Mosque UAE

Grand Mosque Hallway

We walked across the blindingly brilliant courtyard to the entrance into the mosque. Tim and I just recently lost our sunglasses in South Africa and have not had time to replace them. The two of us squinted our way across the bright white, very reflective floor of the courtyard. We removed our shoes and gratefully entered the air conditioned and dimly lit main prayer room of the mosque.

Things to do Abu Dhabi

Visiting the Grand Mosque

Inside the Grand Mosque


Kara in UAE

We were all mesmerized at the beauty of the place, but Kara was the most taken with it. I think she captured every square inch of this place on her iPod. She was the same way when we visited the mosques in Istanbul, which still remains her favorite place in the world.

Gold Cappuccinos in Emirates Palace Hotel

The Emirates Palace Hotel was our next stop in Abu Dhabi. Tim lured me here with fanciful stories of ATM’s that dispense gold and cappuccinos sprinkled with gold flakes. I just had to get me one of those! Another new building, the Emirates Palace was completed in 2005.

Emirates Palace

Gold Vending Machine

Tim was right about the gold ATM and the coffee. The four of us sat down in a very luxurious cafe for a pricey midday snack. I ordered the cappuccino dusted with gold, Kara ordered a cappuccino made with camel milk, Tim had a milkshake and Tyler ate french fries. Our little meal cost just about $70. So, was it good? Of course! When else can you enjoy cappuccinos made with these ingredients!


Golden Cappuccino

Female bathroom UAE

The Marina Mall

Nearby was the Marina Mall. Here we had access to the Sky Tower for free views over Abu Dhabi. My photos are not that impressive. What we liked more was window shopping and people watching in the mall.

Shopping in Abu Dhabi

Putting our Feet in the Arabian Gulf

Our visit to the beach did not last long at all. We all put our feet into the very warm Arabian Gulf. The water and the warm ocean breeze was nowhere near refreshing.

Gulf of Arabia

The Grand Mosque at Night

After a swim in the much more refreshing hotel pool, our day in Abu Dhabi ended with a second visit at the Grand Mosque for nighttime photos. We couldn’t decide if it was more beautiful during the day or during the night. I know Tim and I enjoyed the nighttime visit more since we could actually look at the mosque without being blinded!

Grand Mosque Night

Grand Mosque at Night


The next day we took a bus to Dubai, just 130 kilometers (81 miles) away. We spent our first day in Dubai in the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall, and visited Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Burj Khalifa


Enjoying the View from Burj Khalifa

It is expensive to go to the top of Burj Khalifa, but a must do activity on our list in Dubai. We booked 5:30 pm tickets so we could see the city of Dubai during sunset. It is so hot and hazy here during the day that daytime views are not all that impressive. But I am glad we could see it at night…this city sparkles!

Looking down on Dubai

Dubai from Burj Khalifa

UAE Sunset

Riding Roller Coasters inside the Dubai Mall

While at the Dubai Mall we all had a chance to ride its indoor roller coaster. Tyler and Kara are going through amusement park withdrawal since we have yet to visit one on this trip. So they were happy to have the chance to ride a thrill ride…finally!!

Our Final Day in the UAE

Our second day in Dubai was spent seeing some of the iconic sites, eating cheesecake for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, and briefly visiting the souks, shops selling spices and gold. We primarily got around on Dubai’s ultra-modern, fast, very clean metro system.

Dubai Metro

We also took a peek at Ski Dubai, a ski slope inside The Mall of the Emirates Shopping Mall. This place was getting a fair amount of business. It looked like it was mostly young children here for an hour or two of ski school.

Ski Dubai

I loved seeing everything (street signs, license plates, water bottles) written in English and Arabic.


Coldstone Creamery

Tide in the UAE


We also saw, from a distance, Burj Al Arab, the only seven star hotel in the world. You are only permitted to enter if you have a reservation.

Burj Al Arab

Our day ended in our hotel. This may sound goofy but we had our best wifi of the trip so we wanted to take advantage of it. We spent the afternoon updating our website, our Earth Trekkers YouTube channel, and finalizing more travel plans.

Now we pack and are preparing for our flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. This is the country I am looking forward to the most, but at the same time I am feeling a little nervous. In just three days we will be flying to Lukla, Nepal and starting our two week trek to Everest Base Camp!

Currency UAE

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PYRAMIDS OF GIZA, EGYPT: Plan your visit with our article How to Visit the Pyramids of Giza. We also have an article about where to get the best views of the pyramids.

AROUND THE WORLD TRAVEL: Do you dream of traveling around the world? Check out our Guide to Traveling Around the World, where you can get information on how to plan your big adventure, what to expect while traveling, and what it is like to finally come home.

DESTINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD: For more places to visit around the world, check out our Destinations page.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai UAE Photo Tour

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Comments 13

  1. Avatar for Abu Dhabi Desert
  2. Avatar for John

    Hi Julie, appreciate your efforts in capturing the best scenes of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I can recommend the next time you visit Dubai, you can make a stop at the very romantic Marina Walk, in Dubai Marina. We at Room and Mates will be thrilled to host you at any of our 35+ Shared flats in Dubai Marina, JLT, or Al Barsha 1.

  3. Avatar for Renée Schwedel
  4. Avatar for Cecilia

    Hello.. my husband and I will be traveling to Dubai in May. He is very worried about how expensive it will be. I’m optimistic . I hope five days give us plenty of time. You’ve given me hope. We’re also making a two day stop in Paris on our way back to the States..would you tell him not to lose sleep and enjoy?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You are right, Dubai does not have to be an expensive place to visit. We stayed in a great, budget friendly hotel and spent our money on a few experiences that are very unique to the UAE, like visiting Burj Khalifa and drinking gold dusted cappuccinos. It’s definitely worth the visit and we had a great time here. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Mary J
    Mary J

    Hi, I really enjoy your website. We will be stopping over in Dubai for a day and a half on our way to Singapore. I noticed that your family was wearing shorts. I’ve read different things and am not sure if it’s ok to wear shorts while walking around town or should our legs and arms be covered? Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      In the Grand Mosque, we wore long pants and long sleeved shirts. However, everywhere else (shopping malls, at the beach, around town, on the metro, etc), we did wear shorts. Around town, I think that it is OK to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts, but I would advise keeping your shoulders covered and not wear tight clothing. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Desert Safari Dubai
  7. Avatar for arabiannightsafari
  8. Avatar for Meg Dougherty
    Meg Dougherty

    I am awed at the sight of such wealth. I am curious as to what kind of hotel accommodations you had and how they compare (in stars) to those here in the states. I hope you were finally able to buy a new pair of sunglasses!!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We stayed at 3 star accommodations in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In Abu Dhabi we stayed at the Premier Inn for $65 a night. This is very similar to a Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn. In Dubai we stayed at the Savoy Crest Hotel for $135 a night. It was harder to find budget hotels in Dubai. But, for $135, we had a one bedroom apartment, kitchen, washing machine, living room with sofa bed for the kids, and 2 bathrooms. We try to average $65 a night, more in Europe, less in Asia. With some research we have found great budget accommodations!

  9. Avatar for Mo Canady
    Mo Canady

    Hello Tim, Julie, Tyler and Kara,

    It was a pleasure meeting you on the bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai this past Friday. Your story is very inspiring. Thanks so much for referring me to the website. I am sharing this with my family and friends so that they can follow you on your journey.

    I wish you the best!

  10. Avatar for Kathy (mom)
    Kathy (mom)

    This tour through United Arab Emirates is something! These places are so beautiful it’s hard to believe they really exist. I’m glad you were able to get Tyler’s African videos uploaded. I’ve started from the most recent and have watch 12. I love seeing these videos. Of those 12 I especially like the Haircut in Capetown, Table Mountain because of the surprise at the top, and The Cape of Good Hope. I’m looking forward to continue watching them.

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