Monday, June 30, 2014

Wafi Mall and the Pyramids

ELast night we ventured out to visit the Wafi Mall.  We weren't real sure it was a smart idea since we have heard the traffic can be bad and people a bit grumpy and impatient after fasting all day.  It's amazing to us that they don't even drink water!  I don't know how they do that in this heat!  Fortunately we found traffic to be light and no one seemed to be in a huge hurry.  

It was a little difficult to find the Mall..we could SEE the pyramids, but we just could not seem to find the way to get signs to guide us until we got to the entrance to the parking lots.

It was an incredible mall...very beautiful, very upscale, very unique architecture.  Want to see some of the pyramids?

I don't think we even saw them all.  We walked around for about an hour and didn't even go into
any of the stores. They were all so exclusive and expensive...but it was fun to see the sights!

Just one of the many lobbies...decorated for Ramadan.  The place was empty...there were more store workers than shoppers.  We had the place to ourselves!  We enjoyed a nice dinner out at Biella, an upscale Italian restaurant - using a Dubau entertainment,  buy one main course get one free coupon...

There is a Raffles (British 5 Star Hotel) connected to the Mall...the entrance and the lobby were elegant and luxurious.
You can see in malls and hotels, they love, love, love big spaces!

     This picture makes my 15 Dirham ($4.00) top look pretty good!

This was a courtyard space outside the mall, complete with a little park, water fountain and water fall.

At 9:30 during Ramadan, they are doing a light show with music. It was different than any we have seen before.  Really pretty...and very typically Arabic.

Much of it was centered on the face of this hotel building and the entrance with columns above...

Just a few of the different displays projected...

                                                       Great evening out!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Regular Day

Went with a friend to the Mirdif City Center Mall this morning...looking for a special lightbulb and coffee luck finding them.  Did the grocery shopping for the week...not many people at the store.  Got back to the house in time for lunch.  Made egg salad sandwiches, using up some hard boiled eggs from breakfast the other morning.  

After lunch we cleaned and organized about 1/3 of the cupboards out in the outside kitchen.  Really needed a good cleaning...the dust gets into everything.  We will finish it up another day.

Ramadan started today.  We are headed to the Wafi Mall tonight...has an Egyptian theme.  From the outside it looks like a pyramid.  Will be interesting to observe what is happening as Emirates conclude their fast at evening prayer 7:16 today.

I have been reading a little book called ASK ALI - from the Gulf's top cultural expert.  He has a website that looks pretty good, too.

What I am learning:

Streets often do not have names - or, they may have 3 names
Buildings are not numbered
Navigation is achieved using landmarks

Men often greet one another by rubbing noses 
You can try saying "As salami alaykum" instead

Emirates prefer to build a relationship first - then build a business relationship

Saving face is important - even if you must compromise, don't embarrass your Arabic colleagues in public

Good connection starters include inquiring about health and family, or sports, especially soccer

Arabs love to host at home - when invited, try to accept
It is the best way to learn about the culture
Wear something comfortable and modest - the family often sits on the floor
Make sure you stay for dessert - Arab sweets are delicious and if you leave early your hosts may feel they have not completed their hospitality duties 

Use your right hand to pick up things or accept things

Modesty and respect are the Arab world's greatest virtues

You get a license to purchase alcohol here.  You are allowed to purchase 20% of your monthlly salary.  Visitors cannot buy alcohol from the government run shops, but may buy duty free or at hotel bars.

You call 997 for fire, 998 for ambulance and 999 for police

Camel racing is not done this time of year...just too hot for the camels.  I am told the camels race long distance with robot jockeys controlled remotely by their owners who drive alongside the camels in their SUVs!  Fascinating!  

Each April they have daredevil pilots who race their planes up to 370 kph out over the water above the Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

They also race powerboats in December, reaching 220 kph.

The end of March cross country drivers from around the world come to race ATVs, cars, and motorcycles across the desert.

We will have to come back in the winter some time to enjoy some of these fun activities!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Worship and Sabbath

The service at Redeemer Church of Dubai was worshipful and meaningful once again.  The talk this week was HOW LONG? taken from Habakkuk 1 and 2.  Is God just?  Is God faithful?  What is God doing?  We were reminded that God is always just in his punishment, He is always faithful to fulfill his promises and He is always  glorified in his purposes,

Communion was wonderful, sharing the bread and the wine with like minded people from around the world.  Once again, the songs we sang spoke to me and brought the service to a climax singing Behold the Lamb and By Faith during communion.

Behold the Lamb who bears
Our sins away, slain for us
And we remember
The promise made that all who came in Faith
Find forgiveness at the cross

So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bond of peace
Around the table of the King.

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him,
Our souls's reward
Till the race is finished 
And the work is done
We'll walk by Faith and not by sight.

The congregation sings together with one voice and in harmony, sensing, knowing when to raise their voice as one in praise.  I walk away truly feeling the presence of God and the unity of the body.

The rest of the day was quiet, reflective, peaceful...with tacos for dinner.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Additional Sites in Abu Dhabi


            After our time at the Mosque we drove around to see a few other sites In Abu Dhabi...
            Like the Emirates Palace Hotel.



                        You could enjoy one very nice and very big party in this lobby area!
                        The grounds were magnificent and the back side was on the Persian Gulf.



               The view looking away from the front entrance...and the view of the front entrance...nice!
               You can pay 1000 dirhams for a basic room or 10000 to 15000 dirhams for a nice suite
               on the water.  It's the hotel of choice for kings and presidents...
      Views of the downtown and the Corniche Beach from the breakwater.  


                               The Abu Dhabi Theater out at the tip of the breakwater.
                               The old Heritage Village was right next to the theater, but it was just too hot
                               to consider walking around.


We drove back to the interstate to Dubai via the bridges/road through the islands offshore...Saadiyat Island, Bisrat Fahidi Island and Yas Island.  Development is underway for museums, a cultural center and other attractions on the islands.  In the winter you might want to go to the worlds largest amusement park - Ferrari Park.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi


Our adventure for this week was in Abu Dhabi, about 2 hours from Dubai.  The population of the city itself is about one million.  We spent most of the morning at the Grand Mosque.  It was spectacular.
We took a tour and learned a great deal about Islam and the Mosque.  


30,000 can worship in the outdoor courtyard.  In the main hall inside 7,000 men can pray together, shoulder to shoulder.  There are two smaller prayer halls (one for men and one for women) that can accommodate 1,500 each - for a grand total of 40,000 at one time.


        There are over 80 domes and 1000 columns in the mosque.  I am told it cost 2 billion 
        dirhams to build.  Sheikh  Zayed died before the complex was complete.  He is buried 
        on the grounds.  The mosque was built between 1996 and 2007.

The floors and columns are marble...the palm leaves are 24 carat gold and there is mother of pearl and precious stone inlays on the floors, walls and columns.




             You can see the swamp coolers set up already for prayer times during Ramadan.
             The carpets are rolled up and ready around the edges of the courtyard.  Everything 
             was clean and shiny, inside and out.


    A view from inside the Mosque back toward the courtyard.

    This smaller domed building is where Sheikh Zahad is buried.  Nice quiet private place.

       Ivory inlay on a small wall display...and a huge one high above us on a wall.


    There are three of these HUGE chandeliers from Germany.   You cannot begin 
    to see the detail....there are millions, literally millions, of 
    Swarovski crystals in the gold.  (Actually I thought the chandeliers were kind of gaudy...
    Everything else was simple, stunning, and classy.)


                           Beautiful mosaics scattered around in the hallways....
                           This one was by the drinking fountain.



   The carpet in the main hall is the largest carpet in the world.  It was made in Iran by 1200 knotters working for two years!  They cut it into 9 large pieces and took it to Abu Dhabi in two airplanes and installed it, putting it back together.  It is so thick, they did not out padding under it.

One of our tour guides was in training and did hs best 
to give us information AND entertain us.

                       This door opened to the pathway to the Sheikh's burial place.

This wall displays the name of Allah on the big circle with the 99 names/descriptors of Allah.  The empty space reminds you that he is infinite and has more names...

This symbol lets you know that you are facing Mecca and the podium to the right is where the Imam stands when he talks at prayer time on Fridays.  Not sure who the chair is our small group we leave an empty chair for Jesus to join us.

Here is our other tour guide.  She asked the trainee lots of questions like an interested sightseer, to help him with his tour.

       The huge hall with the three chandeliers.


                 You really need to know when to pray....

    And you must wash hands and feet before praying...

    One of the very pretty chandeliers in the lobby by the doors...much more to my liking.


               One last look....needless to say, I was awed and inspired by what I saw and heard.
               I can learn a lot from the Muslims -  their worship and their commitment.  Need to think
               more about that in the days ahead.