Sunday, January 21, 2018

United Arab Emirates (Dubai & Abu Dhabi) & Oman (Muscat) Jan 2018

" Travelling to United Arab Emirates. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into an Arabic story teller "

" Travel while you are young & able. Don't worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be " 

" If package tour is not your cup of Chinese or English tea, not to worry ! Set yourself free, learn the ABC of traveling free & easy ! Backpacking is like drinking a cup of Bombay tea with milk, pleasant & tasty ! The tale of a 68 year old backpacker sipping & enjoying a cup of Boh tea at a Malaysian home " 

" My 14 days free & easy solo visit to United Arab Emirates (Dubai & Abu Dhabi) & Oman (Muscat) from 8 - 21/1/2018 - my first visit to UAE & Oman; my last visit to Middle East countries was in Oct 2008 to Jordan & Syria "

Travel Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia > Singapore (Changi Airport) > Dubai, UAE > Muscat, Oman > Dubai > Abu Dhabi > Dubai > Singapore > Kuala Lumpur 

Image result for uae map with cities
Map of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Middle East
Image result for oman map
Map of Oman, Middle East 

Think of these in Dubai - Dessert Safari, Old Souk, The Palm, Burj Khalifah, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Musical Fountain, Persian Gulf, Global Village, Miracle Garden, stylish skyscrapers, a global city, business hub of  Middle East, Arabic food, Arabian folk tales, Arabian nights, English widely spoken and many more tourist attractions in Dubai and the mention of  these interesting places are strong enough to enthuse you to fly to Dubai and see with your own eyes ..... though it took me years to decide to visit Dubai but for this exploratory visit to UAE, I like to thank Singapore Airlines & Backpacker 16 Hostel (Dubai) for providing a senior citizen the opportunity (an economy air ticket & a decent place to slumber) to backpack & do a 14 days free & easy visit to United Arab Emirates including Oman with ease and without much fuss ! 

My 9 nights in Dubai gave me sufficient time to do this exploratory visit to the major tourist attractions in Dubai including a day trip to Abu Dhabi. Using the Metro, green & red lines in Dubai, you could rely on this efficient public transport to major shopping malls & tourist sites ie Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall / Burj Khalifah, Jumeira Lake Towers / The Beach , Old Sulk, Wafi, Dubai Festival City, Dubal Marina etc. A connecting city bus service takes you from the Mall of Emirates to Miracle Garden & the Global Village and the last bus ends around 11pm ! So make sure you stay on & see Global Village at night when all the colorful lightings are up - a starry, starry night for you to chill & enjoy the evening in this wonderland of Dubai ! 

For tourists who enjoy outdoor sports & adventurous, try the Dessert Safari tour package (150dhm offered by Backpacker 16 Hostel) from 3 - 9pm; this should be an exciting trip ie seeing the sand dunes, taking a camel ride, watching an Arabic belly dance show & savoring a typical Arabic style BBQ buffet dinner !

In my day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai & using public buses I fulfilled my dream of visiting the two gems of Abu Dhabi ie the Emirates Palace Hotel & the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Due to the closing of a backpacker hostel in Abu Dhabi in January 2018, my original stay for 3 nights in Abu Dhabi was cancelled last minute ! Traveling time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is approximately 2 hrs. 

Border crossing from Dubai to Muscat, Oman at Hatta was smooth & straight forward as for Malaysians entering from Dubai to Oman, it was visa free so just be a good citizen of the world and queue up to go through the immigration protocol & luggage checking at both the border checking points. However, there was a new exit fee of 35.25dhm imposed on all foreign tourists by the UAE border cross point at Hatta . 

My 3 nights stay in Muscat was a pleasant one and using public buses, I was able to visit the Muttrah Corniche, Al Alam Palace, National Museum & Port Sultan Qaboos. In Muscat I stayed at Al Hadow & Majestic hotels (2 star). Travelling time from Dubai to Muscat is approximately 6-7 hrs. 

Food wise, using my travel cooker, I made my own meals at the hostel's kitchen and relaxed most of my time chatting with fellow backpackers in my room sharing & exchanging our travel experiences and day trips in Dubai & nearby places !
Dubai was rated as the 22nd most expensive city in the world for expatriates, so if you are a backpacker, plan well and make sure you have a decent shelter, food & logistic / transport well taken care of before embarking on this visit. Dubai International Airport was ranked No 1 as the world's busiest airport for international travel, a total of 88.2 million passengers in 2017 ! 90 airlines currently flying into Dubai, a gateway for East-West travel ! 

In short, Dubai / Abu Dhabi indeed is a great place to visit for tourists & free & easy travelers. I love Dubai and to know Dubai is to love Dubai ! Dubai is truly Middle East !
Before flying to United Arab Emirates, how about you start reading the folk tale of the Arabian Nights, One Thousand & One Night and Alibaba & the Forty Thieves, this will certainly enhance your appetite to see more of Dubai & Abu Dhabi ! Open Sesame, UAE welcomes you !

Total overall expenses incurred in UAE & Oman (14 days): Rm4,272 (US$1,057)
Singapore Airlines ticket (KL & gt; Singapore & gt;Dubai return) - Rm2,095.10 (US$518)
Travel insurance: Rm160 (US$40)
Airport shuttle bus (KL) : Rm8 x 2 (seniors)
Rapid KL trains : Rm2.10 x 2 (seniors)

1) Total expenses incurred in Dubai/Abu Dhabi, UAE (10 days): 1,221 dhm = Rm1,343 (US$332)Backpacker 16 Hostel, Dubai (9 nights) - 546dhm (Rm600=US$148)
Bus (Dubai > Abu Dhabi): 25dhm x 2 return
Boats : 5dhm
Mono Rail: 30dhm
Hafilat Bus Card (Abu Dhabi) : 20dhm
Food & groceries (own prepared meals) : 150dhm 
Entrance fees: 3dhm (Dubai Museum) + 45dhm (Miracle Garden) + Free admission for seniors above 65 (Global Village) 
Metro: 340dhm (Rm375)

2) Total expenses incurred in Oman (4 days): 49.60 Oman Rial + 90dhm = Rm654 (US$162)

Al Hadow Hotel, Muscat (1 night) - 12 Oman Rial (Rm125)
Majestic Hotel, Muscat (2 nights) - 15 OR x 2 = 30 OR (Rm312)
Long distance bus: Dubai>Muscat return - 90dhm
Departure Tax (Hatta border): 35 dhm
Muscat city bus: 2 Oman Rial
Taxi (Muscat): 3 Oman Rial
Food: 2.60 Oman Rial

Exchange rates: US$1=3.64 dirhams(dhm); Euro$1=4.20dhm; US$1=Rm4.04; US$1=3.75 Oman rial; Euro$1=4.50 Oman Rial; Rm1=0.90dhn

United Arab Emirates (UAE) currencies ( Dirhams )

Oman Currencies ( Oman Rial)

Travel Highlights: 

1) Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Burj Khalifah, Dubai
Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai
The Dubai Fountains
Global Village, Dubai
Miracle Garden, Dubai 
Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai
Old Souk, Dubai

Dubai Gold Souk
Dubai Spice Souk
Dubai Old Souk Station
Souk Al Bahar, Dubai
Jumeirah Open Beach, Dubai
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Mall
Dubai Marina
Mall of Emirates, Dubai
Ski Dubai, Mall of Emirates
Dubai Creek
Grand Souk Deira
Heritage House, Dubai
The Souk, Dubai Mall

Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai
The Beach, Dubai
Pier 7, Dubai Marina
Marina Promenade, Dubai
 Dubai Mall
Raffles Hotel, Wafi, Dubai
Dubai Healthcare City
Dubai Festival City, Creek 
Jumeirah Beach Resort Hotel, Dubai
The Palace Downtown, Dubai
Dubai Burj Plaza
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Dubai International Airport
Dubai Fountain Lake

2) Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi ( UAE )
Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Corniche
Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi
Etihad Square, Abu Dhabi
Marina Eye, Abu Dhabi 
Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi

3) Muscat (Oman)

Muttrah Corniche, Muscat - Oman
Jalani Fort, Muscat - Oman
Muttrah Old Souk, Muscat - Oman

Al Alam Palace, Muscat - Oman
National Museum, Muscat - Oman
Port Sultan Qaboos, Muscat - Oman

Fort Al -Mirani , Muscat - Oman
Ruwi Clock Tower, Muscat - Oman
Oman Avenues Mall, Muscat - Oman
Muscat Grand Mall - Oman