2 Days in Dubai


Start at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), where you can have a traditional breakfast and learn about the culture of Dubai and the UAE in general. Tradition remains a strong current throughout UAE society, while it adapts to tolerate, if not embrace, some of the modern social mores of the 80-90% ex-pat population.

The SMCCU is located in an old wind-tower house in the Al Fahidi district (also known as Bastakiya) of Bur Dubai on the western side of Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek). The district is named for Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest standing building in Dubai. The residential area that grew up around the fort was planned to make life in the extreme climate as comfortable as possible. Houses were built around narrow, winding lanes to maximize shade and draw cooling breezes through. Towers on the houses drew air down past water, which cooled the rooms as it evaporated on the wind.

Take an abras (water taxi) across the creek to Deira, where you’ll find the souks. If you’ve been to souks in Fez, Istanbul, Jerusalem and Cairo, Dubai’s souks probably won’t blow your socks off, but they do have local charm and are well worth some poking around. The Gold Souk is really something to behold and many visitors to Dubai come just for the gold.

Then travel in a matter of minutes from old Dubai to the number-one icon of new Dubai, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. I like buildings and have raved about this one more than once in this blog: here and here. Take the At The Top tour for access to the observation deck on the 124th floor. Burj Khalifa is part of the Downtown Dubai development, which includes the Dubai Mall (for a completely different shopping experience from the souks) and the musical Dubai Fountain.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE, photo by Sallie Volotzky


Start the day with breakfast at the Farriers Restaurant with views of horses during morning track work on the Meydan Racecourse. After breakfast, take a tour of the Meydan Stables.

Drive to the giant Jebel Ali port, about 20 miles south of Dubai city, for a seaplane tour. The aerial perspective really helps to take in the extraordinary evolution of Dubai. You’ll fly over the whole city, but birds-eye views of the man-made Palm Jumeirah and World Islands, the Burj Khalifa and the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Hotel are especially astonishing.


Come down to earth with a tour through the art spaces on Alserkal Avenue in the industrial Al Quoz district. Since 2007, Alserkal Avenue has developed “organically,” as they like to say, into a hopping arts scene, with the city’s largest concentration of galleries and arts venues. It’s a good place to ground and balance out the hyper-commercialism that built Dubai and keeps it ticking.

Alserkal Avenue gallery, Dubai, UAE, photo from timeoutdubai.com

Alserkal Avenue gallery, Dubai, UAE, photo from timeoutdubai.com

Click to see Dubai tours on our website.


The answer to the last episode (episode 8) is: DUBAI.
Clue 1a – Burj Khalifa
Clue 1b – Burj Al Arab
Clue 2 – wind-tower house in the Bastakiya district of Dubai
Clue 3 – a shop in the gold souk in the Deira district of Dubai

Click to see tours to Dubai.

Now for this episode –

All the clues in this post refer to one Ya’lla Tours destination: Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, or United Arab Emirates.

We’ll show you images of popular tourist sites in our mystery country, along with descriptions of those sites. Continue reading

Another Arabian Peninsula Foto Friday – Dubai & Oman

We have so many great images from our Arabian Peninsula fam trip to the UAE (specifically Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Oman, I’ll keep posting them in nice juicy batches until you’ve seen them all. Most of these are from fam group member Sallie Volotzky, with one or two from our Midwest Sales Manager, Rich Davis.


Here are a few shots of the Bastakiya Mosque. The Bastakiya district is one of Dubai’s oldest neighborhoods and is full of traditional character.

Dubai’s Gold Souk is located in the business district of Deira. With hundreds of shops, the souk contains something like 10 tons of gold.

walking through the Gold Souk, Dubai, photo by Rich Davis

walking through the Gold Souk, Dubai, photo by Rich Davis


Traditional elements merge into a sleek, modern whole in Muscat’s sparkling Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It was completed in 2001 and can hold 20,000 worshippers.

The ancient city of Sur, Oman, about 93 miles southeast of Muscat, was an historically important port and center for ship building in the Arabian Gulf.

restored Ghanjah Dhow, Sur shipyards, Sur, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

restored Ghanjah Dhow, Sur shipyards, Sur, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Al Hamra is a largely-abandoned, 400-year-old, mudbrick village, the best-preserved of its kind in Oman. It’s located in northeastern Oman, about 140 miles northeast of Muscat.

Al Hamra, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Al Hamra, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Bait al Safa is a cultural center/museum in Al Hamra, where local women demonstrate traditional methods of milling grain, cooking, weaving etc.

Bait al Safa, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

Bait al Safa, Oman, photo by Sallie Volotzky

On the road to Al Hamra…

For impressions of Oman in words, read Rich Davis’ post. For more Oman and UAE pictures, see these posts – Foto Friday and Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman: a few photos.

Our tours to Oman can be found here and our tours to the UAE can be found here. They are all privately escorted and open for customization. We will also create custom itineraries from scratch in any of the areas we serve – Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and Cuba.

Enjoy the weekend!