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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
                                     INFO & DIARY

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 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 US$407,210 billion.

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.
The 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.

DIARY
28/11  The Copenhagen-Moscow flight is delayed, but 25 minutes is enough for the shopping, toilet, passport control and locating the right terminal and gate in Moscow. 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, I stock some water and money. Then, it is a bit late 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'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; 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! Here are 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, beautiful enclosures.

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 have goats 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 innovative.
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 people live. 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 it 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 to Bahrain. 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.
 

EXPENSES DKK
Flight 1.875 251
Insurance 75 10
Car 684 92
Petrol 281 38
Stuff 103 14
Food 240 32
Entrée 128 17
Hotels 1.030 138
  4.416 592

All in all a great visit! The diary continues in Bahrain!

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