| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The United Arab Emirates is an Federal absolute monarchy,
found in-between the Persian Gulf, Oman and Saudi Arabia. It originates from
seven Emirates. It covers 83.600
square kilometres, and is the home of around 9.400.000 citizens, of which
76% are Muslims, 12,6% Christians, 6,6% Hindi and 1% Buddhists.
The currency is UAE Dirham, worth 1,71 Danish Krone and €0,23. The GDP is
The climate is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The
average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 millimetres,
but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 millimetres.
The oases grow date palms, acacia and eucalyptus trees. In the desert, the
flora is very sparse and consists of grasses and thorn bushes.
indigenous fauna had come close to extinction because of intensive hunting.
Here ought to be a few Asiatic cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus,
Sudan cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii, Caracal, Caracal
caracal, Arabian leopard, Panthera pardus nimr, Asiatic lion,
Panthera leo persica, Striped hyena, Hyaena hyaena, Blanford's
fox, Vulpes cana, Golden jackal, Canis aureus, Ratel,
Mellivora capensis, Mountain gazelle, Gazella gazella, Goitered
gazelle, Gazella subgutturosa, Arabian tahr, Hemitragus jayakari
and some Arabian oryx, Oryx leucoryx, which I would love to see.
There are two categories of plant life in the United Arab Emirates: the
restricted salt-loving vegetation of the marshes and swamps, including the
dwarf mangrove, and the desert plant community, which includes a wide range
of flora that is most abundant after the fall of rain. The latter is what I
find interesting, but there are no specific species I will bee looking for.
My main goal is the biomers in general.
Copenhagen-Moscow flight is delayed, but 25 minutes is enough for the
shopping, toilet, passport control and locating the right terminal and gate
I arrival in Dubai in the
middle of the night, but are able to obtain my pre-ordered car - with a bit
of delay, as I am in the wrong terminal. While I wait for them to bring the
car to me, I stock some water
and money. Then, it is
a bit late - or early to find a hotel, and I intend to use the night for a drive to
the southern end of the country.
Dubai is a big city, and despite it is dark night, I actually get to see
quite some of it. The buildings are illuminated, and I recognises the Burj
Khalifa building with its 828 metres. I will return in daylight.
I'm following the big road towards Abu Dhabi, and it seems like not only it,
but all other sealed roads are illuminated. So are many of the mosques, some
intensely in bright colours. Here are quite some traffic, and it feels a bit
like home; familiar vehicles and driving by the rules. Here, people are a
bit more polite though.
I had hoped to see the sunset over the dunes, but it is kind of misty.
After 400 kilometres, I reach Liwa Oasis, and the road turn into sand and
dust. It zigzags through huge and beautiful dunes, and I do numerous stops
to photo and botanise. Both tasks a bit dull, as both the dunes and the
single vegetation I find; the salt bushes, are quite alike.
A few camels are roaming the dunes, adding significantly to the feeling. I
have to be careful where I stop. The deep and loose sand are not made for a
front-drive road car! Or is it the other way around? When I walk in the
dunes, I sink in to my ankles. Here are some tracks from beetles and
lizards, but despite I see the latter, I fail to get a photo, before they
dive into the sand. The temperature raises from 25C to 30C, but a light
breeze make it perfect. That said, I have to be careful with my white skin,
and I figure I better head back towards Abu Dhabi.
I chose another road, leading 200 kilometres through
almost barren sand dunes. Strangely enough, both sides of the road have four
lanes of bushes and palms. It turns
out they are automatically watered all
the way. That give room for some wildlife like Büll-bülls.
As I have a short closed-eyes brake, I'm woken up with what sounds like a
drizzle. It turns out to be numerous flies, covering the car. I can't help
myself, and have to do many stops, just to walk the dunes. Their colour
changes from red over yellow and light brown to almost white. In some
places, they are truly shifting. Another plant start to mingle with the salt
bushes: The Mormon's Tea.
Abu Dhabi is a real modern town with all kind of
sky-scrapers, one more strange than the other. It is so clean, and even in
rush-hour, it feel polite, and the air
is clean. Here are no mopeds, no dogs
and no trash. Nothing like Asia or Africa at all!
I drive straight to my hotel, but something have gone wrong with the
booking. I have paid 141 AER, but they have no records of me. I end up
paying additionally 115 AER, but I'm to tired to argue. I get a hour of
sleep before I set out to investigate the centre of town. I walk the
shopping streets to the ancient Qasr Al Hosn fort, which unfortunately is
being restored. I see the plywood walls and scaffolding.
The entire day, I had this feeling of; only Indians and Pakistan people
are working. The locals are scares,
and walk around in long, white dresses.
In a matter of fact, only 10% are local workers. Besides
from roadwork and trucking imported goods, I se no production at all. Well,
oil drilling, but that is in restricted areas.
On the way home, I get some spiced pasta, and at seven, I'm done! Diary and
photos will be in the early morning.
Photos form the day.
29. Despite I lost a nights sleep, I fail to sleep
mush due to headache and fever, consistent with a flue. I start the morning
with tea and breakfast, brought from home. The minarets nearby wakes up, and
the sound is clean and way more pleasant than the ones I'm use to. And it is
only for a few minutes each. I finish up the work,
and at dawn, I set out to
the eastern part of the country to see the Al Jahili Fort. The road leads
through more dunes, and I do several walks.
Al Jahili Fort is one of the few old buildings in the
country, and it is actually made from clay and camel droppings. It have been
restored recently, and it is really nice. While I am in Al Ain, I have to
see the Camel Market. On the way there, I do a stop at the town to shop
lunch. As everywhere else in the Emirates, everything is new, and it kind of lack the
charm. I find a mall and some food, and head on. The Camel market is huge!
thousands of sheep, goats and even camels. While I photo the
animals and their owners, they photo me. I think they have more photos of
me, than I have of camels! Most are from Pakistan, it seems.
Next to the market is a "souq", brand new and well made. Lines of shops
selling lovebirds, rabbits, aquarium fish and alike. One is even selling
falcons. The next road sell camel food and alike.
A hundred metres further down the road is Al Ain Central
Market. Brand new, polished and exclusive. The first I find is a Christmas
shop, but perfumes are big in the Emirates,
and here are a lot of shops. I do a loop,
but the Desert Botanical Garden draws. It turns out to be swallowed by the
Al Ain ZOO, and I have to enter the ZOO, I'm told.
I fail to find any botanical collection, but the ZOO is quite nice. Most of
the native animals along with some African mammals. All kept in big,
It is getting rather late, and I have 220 kilometres up
to the northern part of the country, where the mountains are found. On the
way, I passes some desert towns
and oasis, but it is mainly endless
dunes. Along every bigger road, speed cameras are found at each kilometre. A
bit annoying, and to add to it; my GPS warns for 1000, 500, 300 and 100
metres. As in the morning, the roads are packed with yellow school busses,
the only public transport I see
I reach Ras Al Khaima after dark, and find my booked hotel. I get an
apartment, except from the kitchen. I rather have a tea brewer than a lounge
of a living room!
Their Indian restaurant look cosy, but they order the food from elsewhere.
Never the less, it taste great, and I'm back working pretty soon. The diary
turned out a bit short, considering how much I have seen, but I have to
catch-up with sleep!
Photos from the day.
30. A bit of a late start on the day, but I needed
the sleep. I drive up to the northern point at mount Jebel Jaris; the
highest point in the Emirates. On the way, I passes the mangroves of Ras Al
Khaimah. I can't walk here, but I see the mangrove bushes, the herons and
some fish from dry land.
As I enters the foothills, the small acacia trees dominates. Everything else
have been eaten by the goats. Even among the huge and modern houses outside
town, goats are roaming around. I try to find some herbs and alike, but the
goats got here first. The views are still great, and I do several walks,
before I enter the mountains. The road is great, and I can enjoy the views.
In some places, the road goes through narrow canyons, leaving everything in
the shadows. A control post hands out trash-bags and instructions; an great
The rocks changes from sandstone into black marble, and small herbs start to
thrive - sparsely. Here are even some small melons, almost ripen. I do some long
walks in the harsh rocky environment, and make way too many photos!
Next on my list is the ancient fort of Dhayah. It is not
big, but it offers some great views to both the mountains and the costal
lowlands. I search the nearby valley, but again, the goats have gone here
first, leaving only the acacia bushes.
On my way down to the coast, I make a stop at a acacia plain at lunch-time.
Several birds have their lunch in the acacias; one fly-picker, one tiny one,
a sunbird, looking a bit like a hummingbird.
I reach the perfect sandy beach, and find a few mussels and oyster shells.
Despite I choose the coastal road to Dubai, I have a hard time getting to
the water. It is either swamps or private. It seems like this is where
One stretch is packed with car dealers, mechanics and tire shops. They have
the most plain houses I have seen here.
Then I reach Dubai, and
the sky-line is dashing. I soon
find the amassing Burj Khalifa building, stretching 828 metres into the sky.
I want a photo, but first; I have the sun right behind it. I drive
underneath it in a tunnel, but the tower is too big, and I do two loops in the area
- before I give up: It is either too big, or other houses hides the lower 50
stores. Well, I have seen it
Next sight should have been the souqs of Deira and Bur Dubai, but it is just
modern shop areas, selling fake Rolex and alike. They don't accept, I don't
want one, until I say; "I got three original, why would I want a fake?".
Besides from that, nothing else look like what I have hoped for: The souqs
of Morocco, 35 years ago.
Next stop is Burj Al Arab; the sail-like, 7-star hotel further down south by the
coast. Again, I settle for a photo, before I head back to centre and my
hotel. It sounded cheap; 126 AER, but additional 30 in taxes and alike and
30 just to park on their premises!
I still have a hour of light, and head out into the shopping area. On the
way, I passes a huge, empty parking lot - well, not empty, as the local
Indian play soft ball cricket. The sidewalks are pretty full, but only a few
are Arabs. Asians dominate completely. I find a vegetarian burger, and head
home after dark.
Photos and diary are made quite fast, as I have to get up at 4;30 to deliver
the car and catch a flight
The few photos from the day is in: Photos of the day.
I have only spend three days in the Emirates, but I have
see most that I found interesting - that said; I could have done with one
more day. I have only taken 565 photos, driven 1409
kilometres and spend a few AER.
All in all a great visit! The diary continues in Bahrain!