Dubai is perhaps best known for its futuristic skyline, its just-a-wee-bit-over-the-top shopping centres and luxury hotels, its record-breaking skyscrapers, and its slightly indulgent lifestyle. But there’s more to this affluent Arabian city than first meets the eye. If you’re interested in learning about Emirati culture, traditions and religion, I recommend visiting the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Are you intrigued by ingenious architecture? World records? Then Burj Khalifa is just the place for you. The first time I was in town, the tallest building in the world was not yet completed. Its proposed height was a well-guarded secret and the working title was Burj Dubai, the Dubai Tower. That was early in 2009. At the inauguration ceremony, [...]
Oasis – it's such a wonderful word, isn't it? Like haven, or sanctuary. The proper definition, the Oxford Dictionary tells me, is a fertile spot in a desert, where water is found. And that is just what Al Ain is. An oasis. A garden at the edge of the fabled Empty Quarter, inhabited for more than 4000 years. It's a [...]
The silver star marks the spot In 339 AD, a church was built in Palestine, in the city of Bethlehem. It was built above a cave, where tradition has it, there once was a manger - specifically the manger where the inspiration behind Christianity was born. Church of the Nativity is the most sacred place in all of [...]
Manama, Bahrain, 29 September 2009 It's 6:30 pm and I'm in Moda Mall at the World Trade Centre, wondering where all the people are. Moda is a huge shopping centre with high-end boutiques. Just from where I now sit, I see Louis Vuitton, Dior, Emporio Armani, Versace and Fendi. And where I sit is in a purple velvet chair; one [...]
It's early evening in the village surrounding Qal’at al-Bahrain. The creatively decorated houses remind me of pictures in fairy-tales, especially through the filter of the setting sun. Five horsemen appear out of the dusk in front of the silhouette of a large 16th century Portuguese fort. This is home to Iranians, says Aziz, my guide for the evening. This is [...]
30-year-old Kuwait Towers is probably the best known landmark on the Arabian Peninsula. Outside Dubai, that is. Designed by Scandinavians, and comprising two large spheres and a spike, the iconic towers are likely the top tourist attraction in Kuwait City. My first proper look at Kuwait Towers is through the windows of Le Nôtre, a French cafe along Arabian Gulf [...]
On my old blog, I touch upon the issue of the Bedoun (although mostly my ignorance of the matter). This is what I wrote then - from the observation deck of Kuwait Towers: I'm soon joined by the only other westerner here. A journo from a Central European country, he is there to cover the issue of the Bedoo. 'The [...]
The most evocative house in Kuwait City must surely be the Kuwait Gulf War memorial - or Kuwait House of National Memorial Museum, as it's officially called - Bait Al Watani in Arabic. Outside the house is an Iraqi tank. The taxi driver, Assis, ensures I see it. The 1 KD entrance fee gets me a personal guide. Sakina begins [...]
Up close, the massive Hajar Mountains appears arid and inhospitable, yet oddly attractive. In places, the mountain sides looks about to crumble and fall. Once or twice during the 45 km stretch of road, they have. A few large rocks block part of the road.
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