I enjoyed touring the UAE with a group, seeing some of the old and new that the country has to offer.
We first took an Abra, from Radisson Blu Hotel on the creek, to the old suq in Bur Dubai which is full of interest and colour.
The walk allowed the group to get a taste of Dubai’s variety for the suq is not only full of shops, but people from around the regions.
Our destination was the Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Centre, where we enjoyed a great explanation of Dubai’s culture and a meal of local cuisine.
We rocketed up the Burj Khalifa, where fortunately pre-booked tickets cut down on some of the queuing.
From the top we could see over to Sharjah, which was to be another city we visited.
Here we especially enjoyed a tour of the Sharjah Maritime Museum.
Abu Dhabi offered us a number of highlights.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is part of the soft power of France, set in an extraordinarily spacious purpose build Museum in an area that will be a Museum hub on the edge of Abu Dhabi. A remarkable two-headed statue from Jordan (Ain Ghazal statue) , is similar to another in the ‘Jordan Museum’, perhaps a twin set of twins.
The heroic Napoleon crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David, is one of 5 versions of this painting of which one was conceived as a diplomatic gift, very appropriate given its setting in Abu-Dhabi.
Close to it I found a far more restrained painting from a similar period, Moghul vizier Shuja ud Dualah and his son, probably his successor as vizier, Asaf ud Dualah, who was the last Moghul vizier.
In Abu-Dhabi the Presidential Palace, a vast ceremonial building, received us shortly after the visit there of Vladimir Putin.
Dates are a key part of the culture in the UAE, & we dropped into a shop – that was entirely devoted to date, too many varieties to mention them all, stuffed with almonds, covered in chocolate, sprinkled with coconut, what a choice.
For a far more relaxed time, we strolled through Al Ain Oasis, the original centre of the settlement of Al Ain deep in the desert, south of Abu Dhabi.
Though the UAE is undoubtedly full of glitz, there are still areas of the older country that are very much worth searching out.