Saturday, 7 November 2015

Dubai & Abu Dhabi

I first visited Dubai in 2005, when a stopover there en route from Reunion was the easiest way to travel to the Maldives. I didn't like the city much then, but this time after ten days in Oman I had more of a chance to explore and I liked it somewhat better.

cityscape, with Burj Khalifa dominating the skyline

Burj Khalifa with the sun setting behind

close up of the Burj Khalifa

Atlantis Hotel on The Palm artificial island

Tall buildings near Sheikh Zayed Road.
The tallest in this photo is Al Yaqoub Tower (328m),
to the right is the Maze Tower, to the left is Up Tower 

 The Burj Al Arab hotel at Jumeirah Beach bills itself as "the most luxurious hotel in the world".

Burj Al Arab hotel, Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

Dubai Marina

Cayan Tower was opened in 2013 and at 306 metres is the ninth-tallest residential building in the world. 
Cayan Tower, 73 stories

Hoopoe bird

inside the Mall of the Emirates, which has 560 shops

Ski Dubai is a 'ski resort' covering 22,500 square meters and with 3,000 square metres of snow, located inside the enormous shopping centre of Mall of the Emirates.

Ski Dubai, located inside the Mall of the Emirates

sunset over the desert

After two days in Dubai we headed along Sheikh Zayed Road (the longest road in the Emirates at 558.4km) to Abu Dubai.

Looking down Sheikh Zayed Road

Abu Dubai is the largest and wealthiest emirate of the United Arab Emirates and is about 140km from Dubai.

sign at Ferrari World, Yas Island 

view of downtown Abu Dhabi

Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi

View from Emirates Hotel.
The copper building to the right is the Millennium Bab al Qasr hotel.
The buildings to the left are Etihad Towers & the Regent Emirates Pearl.

Emirates Palace luxury hotel, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Diving in Oman

One of the reasons for our recent trip to Oman was to go scuba diving, as we'd heard good things about the the diving there. We dived at two locations: the Damaniyat Islands and at Qantab.

The former are about 18 km/an hour's boat ride north of Muscat, the capital, and we did two dives each day on two consecutive days there. The area is a protected nature reserve composed of 9 islands and covering about 100 hectares. 

sea star

me, surrounded by teeming fish

crown-of-thorns - deadly for the coral reef


honeycomb moray eel

large nudibranch

a zebra shark 


large mating cuttlefish 



swimming moray eel

another nudibranch


After leaving Muscat we headed to Qantab on the north-east coast, where we did another day's diving, this time with Extra Divers. The diving was pleasant, but the visibility was not as good, and we saw fewer things.



snake eel

moray eel

What was most surprising about the diving in Oman was the tremendous temperature difference between the air/land temperature and the sea. Air temperatures were low to mid 30s°C, but the water temperature was up to 10° or 12°C cooler!

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Saturday, 24 October 2015


We started our trip to Oman in Muscat, the nation's capital. Muscat is very spread out, with few tall buildings, and you are never very far from the sea.

Qurum Beach

Mangrove, Shatti/Al Qurum

Watchtower and Omani Flag

 Mutra is one of the oldest and most easterly districts of the capital.

Watchtower, Mutra

old and new in Mutra: the yacht behind the dhow belongs to the Sultan

Corniche, Mutrah

Corniche, Mutrah

Mutrah fort (built by the Portuguese in 1580s)

in Mutra souq

in Mutrah souq

in Mutra Souq

outside Mutrah souq on the Corniche

Corniche, Mutrah 

elevated view showing the whole Cornice, Mutraj

playing games

 The Sultan's Palace, built over the site of the former British Embassy, is closed to the public.

Sultan's Palace

 The Bayt al-Zubair museum is located in a restored house and exhibits Omani heritage.

modern art at Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

 It houses a reconstructed baristi, which is a traditional house made from palm fronds and trees.


Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

Bayt Al-Zubair Museum

coastline, old Muscat

dhows off Mutrah

sunset over typical Muscat housing

Royal Opera House, Muscat (built in 2011)

Royal Opera House, Muscat 

an Omani meal may end with dates, followed by rosewater to wash your hands

No visit to Muscat is complete without visiting the Grand Mosque, which was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark the 30th year of his reign.

The mosque can accommodate 20,000 worshippers, including 750 women in a private prayer hall.

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