Before visiting three Islamic countries, we were repeatedly informed (on the ship) to make sure to cover our ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’. We heard it so many times that we started singing and humming, ‘♪ head ♪ shoulders ♪ knees ♪ and toes ♪, ♪ head ♪ shoulders ♪ knees ♪ and toes ♪. Well, cover we did, in heat above 40°C/104°F! And, as we discovered in every port, we really did not need to cover as much as we did. Of course, for those who were vising mosques, the utmost respect in dress was necessary. At the resort beaches however, one would forget that it is an Islamic country. We even saw women wearing thongs. 🙁
(Click on the links for detailed info on the sites,
and additional interior and incredible photos.)
The name Maldive may come from a Sanskrit word meaning, “garland of islands”, which actually fits quite nicely. It is a very long, double chain of coral islands and atolls, to the south and west of India. It is renowned for their resort islands – small coral islets with sugary white sand beaches, coral reefs and placid lagoons. Ironically, there are no beaches on Malé (capital island). Malé is bordered by a sea wall. The people are a well-blended mix of many races and cultures.
We explored on our own and visited the bazaar and local market. The narrow lanes of the fish, vegetable and fruit markets are jammed with merchants and shoppers. Also, Old Friday Mosque: Malé’s oldest mosque, was built in 1656 by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar.
Traditional Maldivian cuisine is based on three main items and their derivatives: Coconuts, fish and starches.
Muscat is one of the fabled ports of the Near East, a legendary trading center connecting Europe and Asia since the days of Pliny the Elder. Visitors will discover a fascinating amalgam of the ancient and the modern.
Grand Mosque: A majestic, white sandstone building built on the instruction of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and can hold up to 20,000 worshipers.
Muttrah Souk: Wares here range from exotic spices and silver trinkets to traditional Omani clothing and handicrafts.
Bait Al Zubair Museum: This private museum was established to foster and preserve Oman’s cultural heritage.
Al Alam Palace: The official residence of His Majesty Sutan Qaboos bin Said.
The cuisine of Oman is a mixture of several staples of Middle-Eastern/Asian foods. Dishes are often based around chicken, fish, and lamb, as well as the staple of rice. Most Omani dishes tend to contain a rich mixture of spices, herbs, and marinades.
Our trip to Dubai included another sweet treat for us. I was to meet my dearest friend, Butterfly’s daughter, Penny, whom I have seen grow into a fine and beautiful young lady. I was seeing her after
19 years. She now resides in Dubai (due to her husband’s job) with her husband and two lovely daughters (was my first time seeing the girls). The ship was docked until midnight that day. Having plenty of time, we did our entire city tour and all touristy things during the day. The Penny Family picked us up after 4PM, and we spent a delightful evening together.
They live in a new complex with 40 plush, high-rise residential buildings, close to the Burj Al Arab Hotel, next to the resort beaches. The 40 buildings by the sea were arranged like the hotels on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, with rows of hip restaurants lined up at the beach front. After visiting their lovely flat, we all walked to a beachfront Indian restaurant. Penny’s husband ordered almost everything on the menu. We enjoyed the best Indian meal of our life, with the best company we could have asked for!
This largest natural harbor along the Emirates’ coast has blossomed into one of the most modern cities on earth. As it now stands, it is the perfect place to get a deeper peek into Arabian culture in a friendly and secure environment.
Dubai, what used to be no more than a small fishing village and trading post, is one of the 7 autonomous Emirates today, which formed the UAE (United Arab Emirates) Federation in 1971, under British sponsorship. Like some of its Gulf neighbors, Dubai enjoys significant revenue from oil and natural gas, but trade continues to be the primary focus of local economic planners. After all, oil deposits can become depleted in time, but trade seems almost eternal.
Only 17 % of the 2.1 million population are citizens of Dubai. Half are of Arab and the other half of Persian ancestry.
Dubai has a vast variety of cuisines from people all over the world.
Al Bastakiya: Also known as the Persian Quarters, which Persians built in the 1600’s.
Burj Khalifa: A.k.a. Burj Dubai, the tallest man-made structure in the world, at 829.8 m (2,722 ft), completed in 2009.
The building has 163 floors plus 46 maintenance levels in the spire and 2 parking levels in the basement.
Burj Al Arab Hotel: Located in the Jumeirah district, built in the shape of a towering sail of a boat, this magnificent structure is the tallest hotel in the world which stands over water, measuring just over 321 meters high.
Jumeirah Mosque: One of the most photographed sites in the Dubai, and a fine example of Middle Eastern architecture.
Dubai Museum: Before becoming a museum, this building served as both a palace and prison. Located in the Al Fahidi Port, built in 1787, houses artifacts from Dubai’s pearl fishing days. Its collection includes life-sized figures and galleries depicting Arab houses, mosques, date gardens, desert and marine-life.