Friday, February 26, 2010

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

So I just realized that I promised a post about my trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi... so here it goes.
A couple of weeks ago Lindsay and I flew to Dubai using a really cheap, regional carrier called FlyDubai. We both got our round trip tickets for about $100. You can get cheaper tickets depending how early you book. The planes are really nice but they try to nickel & dime you for
everything. We paid $2 a person to pre-choose our seat, and paid $10 for each bag we checked in (only one, so not too bad). They also try to sell you food and drinks the entire time during the flight... outside of that, the service is great!

We arrived in Dubai late on a Tuesday night and took a cab to the hotel that we booked
through Orbitz. The hotel was VERY nice and very reasonably priced for being a 5-star. Thanks to the recent financial down-turn in Dubai, hotels are slashing prices to get people to come! The name of the hotel is Bonnington Hotel (never heard of it) but the room was very fancy and it had a huge shower with the rain-style shower head that came from the ceiling. The hotel pool and hot-tub were located on the 11th floor and and it was open air. The building itself was quite interesting because the 11th floor was open air while there were still a good 8 or 10 floors above it...

The first day Lindsay and I hopped a taxi (after figuring out that we were not walking distance from a working metro station (one of Dubai's claims of fame is their new metro system that is about 50% complete, but in traditional arab fashion, they opened it anyway). The taxi brought us to Mall of the Emirates which is known mostly for it's indoor skiing park. Yes, that's right, indoor skiing, only in Dubai! After we checked out the mall we grabbed lunch at popular chain here in the gulf called "Chili's" yeah they are here everywhere too. After lunch we hopped
another taxi to Dubai Mall, which claims to be the largest in the world. It was a huge mall and very nice. The area where Dubai Mall is located is where the new Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) resides.
We spent some time in the mall, we went shopping for some new shoes which turned out to be a great deal because of the shopping festival that was going on at that
time. I picked up three pairs of Steve Madden shoes for $125, which is great because I hardly buy shoes. After walking around for a bit we bought movie tickets to see "Up in the Air" with George Clooney. Great movie, little depressing but very good! This reminds me that I need to explain to you all how movie theaters work here in the gulf.

Move Theaters: Ok, so if there is one thing that the GCC (Gulf Coast Countries) do well, it is movie theaters. First off, the theaters are amazing, especially the one in Dubai Mall which is three stories high. When you buy a movie ticket you don't just "buy a ticket" you also choose a seat. So it is common to go earlier in the day and buy your tickets and choose your seats. This ensures that you can show up 1 min before the movie starts and your dead-center middle row seat will be waiting for you. And yes, 1 minute before it starts, because movies here start on
time. Lindsay and I got a good laugh out of a new service that we saw in Dubai, VIP movie tickets... everything in the GCC has a VIP option. Even Dubai's metro system has a "gold car" that you can pay more to ride in. Status is a big thing here in the GCC! Anyway, the VIP movie ticket comes with a butler-service, private viewing and food for about 3 times the cost of the regular movie ticket... we were tempted but didn't do it. After the movie we went back to the hotel to relax and get ready to dinner out at
On The Boarder Mexican Restaurant. Mexican food is a shared love between Lindsay and I and we take full advantage of eating Mexican food when it's near by. After dinner we hopped a cab back to the hotel and relaxed.

The next day we decided to see if we could get into Burj Khalifa but the tickets were $40 to go half way, so we said "no thanks". We ended up catching another movie "Law Abiding Citizen" with Jaimee Fox and Gerald Butler (I think). It was ok, a little bloody. After the movie we
walked around some more and then returned back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. That night we went to a very nice souk-mall for dinner (near Burj Khalifa) and went to a restaurant called "The Mango Tree" it served Thai food and to Lindsay's delight, lemon-berry martinis... she found a new favorite drink. I ordered grilled sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf and Lindsay got Pad Thai.

The next day we rented a car from Hertz and drove to Abu Dhabi, which was about 1 hour away. It was weird driving in Dubai because the roads are straight and long (similar to the US) but in Doha, I've become to quick stops and short accelerations. When we got to Abu Dhabi, we went to the huge Mosque and looked around. Lindsay had to cover, as all woman have to when
entering a mosque.
Lindsay HATES covering, but I LOVE poking fun at her. After the mosque, we drove to a mall in Abu Dhabi. The setting of Abu Dhabi is much different than Dubai and Qatar, it's very green, lots of trees and looks like a real city. However, Abu Dhabi is quite boring. Dubai is the vegas of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Abu Dhabi is the more responsible country, hence why Abu Dhabi just bailed out Dubai for 13 billion dollars).

We grabbed a quick bite at a restaurant in the mall then headed back to Dubai. When we got back we took a taxi to the old part of Dubai and saw the gold-souk and went on a quick boat ride
over to see the old souks of Dubai. That evening we went to another Mexican restaurant called El Chico's which was a lot better than On the Boarder...

The last day we grabbed a taxi to the closest metro station to try out the metro system. Little did we know it would take 45 min to get to the airport. We both got a little nervous because we were approaching the hour cut off point for our flight check-in and then we got really panicked when we got off at the only airport drop off point, "terminal two" to find out that our terminal "terminal 3" was a 15 minute cab ride... what the hell? We got a fast taxi driver and he got us there just in the knick of time!

The trip to Dubai was great, it's an interesting city in that it shows how fast a city can grow with vast amounts of wealth. At the same time, it shows how empty a city can become when the wealth and investments are only surface level. For more pictures, click here!


  1. Hi Justin, thanks for the heads up for your blog. I now have you as part of my friends and I am a 'follower' on your blog.

    Sounds like life is busy, fun, interesting and wonderful. I am so glad that you are experiencing this unique opportunity that was available to you.

    Will now always know when you post so will be able to keep up with you and I will let Uncle Terry, Lindsay and Jeremy know as well!! Thank goodness for technology!

    Your little trips sound like they were fun, interesting and eye opening for you and Lindsay and your friends.

    Take care - love you lots -- Auntie Berta

  2. Hello Justin & Lindsay,

    We enjoyed your post, many thanks! Sounds like you had a good time in the UAE.
    Thanks for mentioning our hotel - we're happy you liked it! Did you know, there's actually more than 25 floors on top of the floor with the pool :-)
    Do come back next time you feel like you need to escape from Qatar and, we'd be really chuffed if you could leave us a review on our TripAdvisor page, which is here:


    The Bonnington folks