December 11, 2007

Arabian Excursion Day 4: Farewell to Oman and Hello Again, Dubai!

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Leaving Oman

I am leaving Oman today, but before doing so I would make one last stop at the Grand Mosque of Sultan Qaboos, his gift to the nation marking his 30th year on the throne. It is beautiful from the outside – simple, clean lines in the uniform color of sand. Inside, however, is quite a different story.

After snapping pictures of the courtyard and the traditional Islamic archways, I make my way inside the main prayer hall. Can you say “bling”? Firstly, it houses the largest carpet in the world, a Persian rug made specifically for the hall measuring 70m x 60m. It even extends to cover every nook and cranny on the sides. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit in the morning between prayers, and we step on the blue visitor’s carpet.

Then there’s the chandelier. Hanging from the central dome is a humongous crystal chandelier, flanked by numerous smaller ones around the hall. The inside of the dome is gilded in intricate Islamic designs, shown off further by the light eminating from the chandelier. The words wow, bling, and kitsch come to mind. But it IS grand. I leave Muscat satisfied that I have finally entered a Mosque in an Islamic country, especially one as grand as this.

Arriving in Dubai

This time around the arrival in Dubai was smoother than the last. We actually got a gate so we could step off the plane directly without having to wait for the bus. The immigration procedure was simple and I was out of the airport in no time.

I wanted to stay on the beach for one night, so I booked for a night at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi in the Marina area. While there were some issues about my room reservations, I was upgraded to a club room with a magnificent view. The Palm Jumeirah is right in front of me, and the Marina Club right next to the hotel. I set up my tripod and the big Canon cannon, and start taking pictures of the construction sites on the Palm. The beautiful blue of the water works well with the green of the hotel garden area, and I’m happy to have chosen the hotel based on Time Out’s Dubai guide.

Around 4pm I decide to go down to the beach and test out the water. It is very, very clean but very, very cold. I stop when I am knee deep and go back up the beach.

Dinner was at Tang inside the hotel, but that is the subject of another blog posted previously…

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