I’m sad to say that our time in the Middle East is almost over. We’ve enjoyed lots of fresh hummus, dates and coffee over the past few days, and it’s been so much fun cheering on Ismaili athletes alongside fans and friends. While I’m looking forward to getting back to a normal routine and my own bed (the absences of which can throw us off whack during a long vacation), this has been the most eye-opening and adventurous trip I’ve ever accompanied my parents on!
You know how the days seem to blend together when you’re busy exploring a new place? That’s how the last two weeks have been. We hit the ground running in India, visiting three cities in six days. We took long, informative tours of important cultural monuments and areas such as Jama Masjid, the Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Fatehpur Sikri, and the Taj Mahal. I’ve probably just been having too much fun! The good news is that it’s not over yet – the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall are on tomorrow’s schedule for our last day in Dubai.
Yesterday, we attended the Closing Ceremonies for the 2016 Jubilee Games. It was held at Dubai World Trade Centre and featured a ton of awesome performances. From incredible Tajikistani dancers to a surprise concert from famed musical duo Salim-Sulaiman, there wasn’t a dull moment to be found. The best part was when each and every Ismaili athlete walked in a parade around the hall, some dancing to the music with their teammates, others proudly carrying their home flags. After months and years of dedication and hard work, it was their moment and they deserved to celebrate!
(Allow me a moment to brag here: Canada led the medal standings with a grand total of 60 golds, silvers and bronzes! Pakistan followed with 42 and Tajikistan was next with 26. Being selected to play in the Games is an accomplishment in itself, but congratulations to the Canadian, Pakistani and Tajikistani athletes who totally succeeded everyone’s expectations. Also, congratulations to every single athlete who participated. Even if you didn’t win a medal, you did your best and helped to fulfill the purposes of the Games: to excel, compete and unite.)
Today, we took a road trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. It took just over an hour by car, and we were able to stop for pictures of unique structures, buildings and vistas along the way. First up was, of course, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It was truly stunning.
The white-marble domes atop the structure simply added to its beauty. Tourists and locals alike quietly walked through the mosque with their shoes removed and cameras poised for unique pictures to be taken at new angles. The flashy gold, red and green decor inside some of the halls was maybe too distracting, but the bright colours were an interesting contrast to the white hue of the exterior marble walls and floors.
The Grand Mosque was our main sightseeing attraction for the day, but afterwards, there were still several sights to visit. (Though I think we were all silently praying for indoor attractions as it had reached 50 degrees Celsius outside.) We went to Heritage Park, a waterfront area with awesome views of Abu Dhabi’s downtown core:
We saw Emirates Palace, a luxurious, 5-star, beachfront hotel:
Finally, we saw Jumeirah Beach and its main attraction: the dhow-shaped Burj Al Arab, which I believe is the only 7-star hotel in the world. We arrived there in the early evening and strolled along the boardwalk as the sun was setting:
I suddenly came down with a cold today, so the plan is to get as much rest and orange juice as possible before our flight home tomorrow night. FYI, we leave for London Heathrow at 1:30 AM on Monday and arrive in Toronto later that day. The next post will be my last for the India & Dubai series, so I hope you’ll come back to see how our journey ends! Thanks for reading. 🙂