Kalba has a special place in my heart. Years ago I used to go up there with a close friend when we were feeling low and needed to escape from our life and Dubai. In those days, there was not much there, but there was this little bridge you could go over onto an island and watch the wildlife, especially turtles swimming around by the mangroves. We used to take some karak chai, chat and watch nature unfold around us. It was blissful.
10 years later, it has all changed. I came up to Kalba to do another workshop for the Sharjah Young Ladies and thought I would explore Kalba whilst here. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so not much was open. However the Conservation Reserve was open and that was where that little bridge is that we used to cross over.
The area is now gated and home to pods for research, conservations, tourists (including a cafe) and children’s activities. To enter you have to pay AED 15 and get a buggy ride over the bridge (which was good in this heat) to get to the entrance to the first pod. It was fascinating seeing the wildlife and to also see how they have managed to grow the reserve. Walking out of the main two pods, you can walk outside and explore the mangroves. I went for a short walk but it was midday and summer so not the best idea. I am sure it is really lovely in the winter and you will see more animals. I didn’t see any turtles which was heartbreaking for me, but there are supposed to be a lot of them now.
In the same grounds of the conservation area, they have built and eco hotel which you can stay at.
I spent an hour walking and viewing the reserve exhibits and land, which was enough for me. There are a lot of activities for children, so will be good to take, especially in the cooler months.
I tried to visit Beit Al Sheikh Saeed, but it was closed for renovations as well as the fort. Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation involves hiking which was not going to happen in my outfit in August. Next time.
One more item off my list.
A few more to go.
Let me know if there are any other wonders in Kalba I should visit when I next go there.
First of all, put Khorfakken on google maps and if you do not laugh when your lady or man is saying it out loud like a cockney geezer, then you need an operation to get a new funny bone.
My next part of the UAE tour took me to Khorfakken. This is a small enclave which is part of Sharjah but very close to Fujairah. There is one 4 star hotel which we I stayed in, but the less I say about it the better. The big chains are missing a trick not opening one 5* hotel there. They would make a lot of money.
I was in Khorfakken to do a talk to some young ladies so decided to stay the night there. Driving from central Sharjah to Khorfakken took over an hour and a half and included some spectacular views. I haven’t been down this route for many years, so had forgotten the rocky landscape, long tunnels and greenery. It is very beautiful (and even better if you go in winter).
The first night I went to an overpriced seafood restaurant (they tried to get me to buy a bottle of voss water for 30 aed – I am in a village in Sharjah. There was no way they were getting me with insane Dubai prices). I also drove through the Corniche (well the bit which wasn’t closed due to roadworks). The corniche has been taken over by Meeras so looks like JBR and La Mer, but I guess it is helping the economy there, even if it is the same as we see in Dubai.
In the morning, I had an hour to see the sights so saw the newly built Amphitheatre, the waterfall next to the theatre, the ruins of the fort and Al Adwani Tower. As you can see from the pictures, there is not much to see except what is in front of you so no fees, not too much walking and yeah… it was a quick tour.
There is a craft museum and I am sure I could have walked around the ruins if I had time and it wasn’t the summer. There is also a new tourist attraction – Al Suhub Rest House, which is on top of the mountains overlooking Khorfakken. It looks like the views will be spectacular, but I didn’t have a chance to view it.
On my way out of Khorfakken I stopped to visit the Al Rafisa Dam. As it was the summer, it was hot and not an ideal time to enjoy the view, but it did look spectacular to see the dam nestled in the moutains. It is possible to do watersports in the lagoon by the dam including kayaking which I have surprisingly got into. So I may return to the area to kayak in the future.
I did take a detour to Masafi as well to see the market there, but it was Sunday and everything was closed. But on a plus I got an awesome cup of Karak (AED 2 due to the cup) and also harees (like Halim) take-away for one person (AED5!!). I also bought fruit from a car on the side of the road near Masafi but he ripped me off and claimed local fruit is more expensive. God help me with the market con artists. The fruit does taste lovely though.
Would I recommend going to Khorfakken for a day trip. Yeah sure if you can handle the long drive and want to just cruise around to see some natural sights. If you are going to Fujairah or the area nearby it is a good place to drop off and view. It has changed a lot since I last saw it and I am sure will change even more (and hopefully retain its natural and historic elements).
So several places done on the list. Next up a trip to Kalba.
This weekend I was in Sharjah to talk to some ladies about organising and decluttering. Once finished, I thought I would see what was nearby for food and saw this was close to the cafe that I was eyeing up. I love cars and of course the Sharjah Classic Car Museum was on the list, so I made the detour there.
It is by the airport and you cannot miss the big sign for it and the few old cars dotted inside and outside the gates of the museum. The entry fee was AED 10 which is very reasonable. The car collection was not huge. I was expecting more cars to be on display, owned by the Sheikhs or by residents which had been kept and restored, but it was a pretty small collection in a warehouse.
The one good thing was see the various types of petrol pumps. Yeah that got me excited.
I have been to the Car Museum in Abu Dhabi which is is ridiculously huge (but with no super cars which was a disappointment). This is much smaller in comparison, but easier to get to. If you are going to Sharjah to visit a few places, then add this to your itinerary, but don’t make it the destination for the day as it will be a short visit.
This week I decided to get out of Dubai and explore some of the many museums in Sharjah. Sharjah is the third biggest Emirate in the UAE and is the cultural hub of the country. It is known for its beautiful majestic buildings, love of creativity and ridiculous traffic and road systems. This was a place you would not visit on purpose pre-Google Maps (I came here in 2005 before Google Maps and Smart phones existed).
To start I went to the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This beautiful (long building) is the home of artifacts from the Islamic countries in the Arab and Turkish peninsula predominantly. There is a room dedicated to Islam and the three important buildings for Muslims – Mecca, Madina and Al Aqsa Mosque. I have been to none of them so far (my parents have and can talk about the three places for hours), but it was good to see old and new pictures and artifacts from these places.
There were further galleries focusing on the art, ceramics, engineering and astrology which are a major part of Islamic History.
I didn’t read every single caption and by the 3rd and 4th gallery my legs were giving up (post COVID, the tiredness comes fast), however it was very interesting. The technology, engineering and astrology sections have great interactive sections which will be fun for kids (and big kids – yep I pressed a few buttons).
I took about an hour to visit. There is a big cafe and small coffee shop as well as classrooms for kids (there was a summer camp happening when I was there).
It was pretty empty but maybe it does get busier in the winter.
Pros – lots of interesting artifacts, empty so get to see the items in peace and read the captions without being disturbed. No noisy kids.
Cons – staff using one gallery to make loud phone calls and watch videos was not enjoyable and the shop/cafe was a bit lame.
The temporary exhibitions were both closed to put in the new art for the next season. So not great planning by me.
Art as always is a personal thing. I loved a lot of the landscapes and saw some beautiful pieces. One section of the permanent gallery was unmanned and empty, so I walked around and view the pieces in peace.
The second section was guarded by two guards. One followed me whilst I viewed the art. He kept his distance when I got a vocal about my displeasure of him following me. The feeling I got was that I was going to steal the art or touch it. Of course I have manners and was not going to do either. Being the only human in the gallery made it even more disconcerting – not a great experience.
Some great pieces, but not the amazing experience I had expected (especially after reading reviews on the place before). Maybe it is better when all the temporary exhibitions are open as well.
Pros – seeing some great art from Arabian artists.
I also went opposite the museum to visit the cafe there, but it was closed. The district has the Sharjah Art Foundation and some other buildings, but it all looked closed.
I decided to get back in the car and went to the Arabian Tea House next to the Chedi (on my hotel list). The food at Arabian Tea House never disappoints. I usually have the breakfast when I visit the branch in Al Bastakiya (or whatever it is called now), but as it was lunch I tried their hummus and halloumi wrap with rose jam. I have to saw the halloumi and rose jam really worked well together. Worth a visit always – especially for breakfast.
The library opened a few months ago and boasts the biggest collection of books in the region. It is huge and beautifully made, and huge. Seven floors huge.
We drove and parked at the library parking. I believe you can also get the metro there but in this heat, it could be a hot trek from the station to the library. Once in, the security inspected our outfits and wouldn’t allow a friend in for wearing her just on the knee dress. Her shoulders were covered, but flashing her knees was a bit too obscene for the library (slightly bizarre take considering how open Dubai is being nowadays, but what to do). She ended up sitting in the car whilst her daughter and I explored the floors that were open.
Four floors were open at the library when we visited, Ground (which includes the children’s library – we didn’t visit), First, Sixth and Seventh. The Seventh floor has a really beautiful Treasures of the Library Exhibition which takes one half of the floor. It is massive and has some beautiful Quarans’ and first edition books from the around the world. Also on the same floor was an exhibition on the Emirates. Fascinating to see old photos of the Emirates. It also contained a lot of photos I had seen at Ethiad Museum, so we bypassed them quickly (also we were knackered by then).
The other parts of the library had sections for Youth, Maps, Arts and Media. The categorisation of the books was all over the place, to the point that my organised brain was getting anxious. I will have to discuss how it was categorised with my friend, who is a qualified Librarian, to understand their thinking, but I don’t think there was much thinking (except in the Periodicals room). The collection is not vast despite being a lot of books, but I am sure that will improve over time.
There are a lot of places to sit and read books and study which is great if you want a quiet place to get on with your work. Entry is free and so is entry to the Treasures of the Library exhibition. You have to show the separate ticket QR code to get into the exhibition.
The library is very impressive and was relaxing walk around (until i look at the actual categorisation of the books). It was tiring walking around, so I would suggest visiting more than once and also to start at the exhibitions at the top and then working your way down.
Cons – the security was ridiculously tight for a library. The exhibitions could only be entered and exited by the security which was unnerving and also security followed my friends daughter and I in the Treasures room. Everything was behind glass and we were not going to steal anything, but we felt like we were potential criminals by the way they were following us. In the other rooms, the guys at the desks could not muster a hello, let alone talk about the room. So one extreme to the other.
There is a cafe downstairs. We didn’t venture to it, as wanted to go have a nice Chinese meal. Next time.
It’s been a while, but I have had inspiration recently to come back to my blog and to write about my life.
I have lived in Dubai for seventeen years. Sometimes it feels like I just arrived and then other times it feels like forever, especially when stuck in traffic. During that time I have travelled around a lot of the UAE, especially in the last nine years due to my work with Decluttr Me. However, I know that I have not scratched the surface with visiting a lot of places in the seven emirates, which to be frank is shocking.
I went to Expo 2020 in Dubai every week for the last four months it was open (ok sometimes more often in one week) and I loved it. I would go when I had a day off early in the morning before the crowds and heat got too much and see the pavilions and eat a lot of great (over-priced) food. Once Expo closed, there was this void, which I know a lot of friends had as well, who had visited often like me.
This month, whilst sitting on the couch during my day off I realised that I could do the same exercise as I did with Expo but instead visit places in the UAE. However, I needed to know where to go.
After googling a lot of blogs and travel guides one evening, I came up with the following list of places to visit.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
Museum of the Future
The View at the Palm
Hatta Dome Park
Inifinity des Lumieres – Dubai Mall
IMG World of Adventures
Museum of Illusions
Dubai Butterfly Garden
Snow Cinema at Vox
Oh La Lab – Al Serkal Avenue
Mirzam Chocolate Workshop
Jameel Art Centre
Burj Al Arab – stay the night
Ferrari World tickets
Abu Dhbai Pearl Journey
Yas Marina driving experience
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr al Watan (been there but one for you – it is huge and amazing)
Masfout – museum and fort, also hiking destination
Ajman heritage district
Umm Al Qwain
UAQ Fort and Museum – 7am-8pm
Falaj al mualla fort – 8AM–2PM, 3–8PM
UAQ Al Qwain Centre of antiquities
Al Jazirah Al Hamra (ghost town)
1484 by Puro – Jebel Jais
Shimal – small village – heritage site
Suwaidi Pearl Farm
RAKs nature treasures
Flower Farm Asima – November to March
Khatt – hot springs
Madha – enclave of Oman
Al Bidyah Mosque and fort
Ain Al Madhab Hot Springs
The Governors Palace, Masafi
Tayyibah Heritage Museum
(* all in italics have been completed)
When you look at the list you may see places that should be on there like Mussandam, F1 Abu Dhabi, some of the waterparks, and quite a few places in Fujairah (I visited there a few times to see close friends of mine who lived there, so visited a lot of the sites with them), etc – that is because I have already been to those places. However, I may have inadvertently missed places out, especially if they are obscure, so please let me know so I can update the list accordingly.
Today I started the list and went to Ethiad Museum and Union House. It seemed like the ideal place to start this list as it was where the Emirates were formally formed. I love finding out the history of places and especially my second home so I loved it. It is big in size, but quick to view. I took about an hour to see all the exhibits and videos, but I did speed through some of it. The current price to enter for Adults is AED 25 which is a bargain considering how beautifully made it is. Here are some pictures from the Museum and Union House to wet your appetite to visit there.
It was pretty empty for a weekday morning and the staff advised it was much quieter due to the summer months. There is a massive lake with the flag poles which would have been nice to sit by, but that was not happening in the 40 degree heat, so maybe nice to visit when cooler.
As 2019 and this decade finally buggers off I thought I’d share my good and bad bits of the decade for your entertainment or boredom…
Starting with the really bad – the early part of the decade was hell due to various reasons. Also, I worked at a horrific FMCG as Head of Legal for a few years.
As bad as FMCG place was I made good money and got to travel a bit. Also I bought a few Chanel bags and spent a lot in Selfridges and made some friends from there.
Also due to the hell of a time in said company, I left in 2013 to start my own business – Decluttr Me. The crazy decision has been tough but worth it. Best decision I made for my heart, soul, and head. Plus I have organised a lot of brilliant spaces and been in amazing houses.
I didn’t make as much money as I would like for a bit, so worked in two real estate companies for 2 years. Both went bankrupt in the same week in consecutive years. Not my fault honestly. Still waiting for my commission from the last one. As a plus, I made a few good friends from it and know more about properties in Dubai which is useful when talking to Decluttr Me clients and discussing their wardrobes and kitchen space 😉.
I became an Auntie to my two darling, intelligent, cheeky monkey nephews Conrad and Ashton. Have so much love for those two muppets even if there face is stuck on the iPad watching someone else playing football games! I also gained a sister in law and fallen in love with Polish dumplings (and her of course). ☺
I also became an Auntie to various friends and although I am rubbish at remembering their names (or spelling them right) and also forgetting partner names, I care about them all very much.
I lost one of my best friends 5 years ago – Shenifa – still get teary every so often, but know she is looking after us all.
My closest friends (hopefully you know who you are) both here in Dubai, UK and globally have been my rock through my depression, boy issues, work issues, etc. Thank you always. I met also some amazing people who have become dear friends over this decade in Dubai and elsewhere.
Got to visit a lot of amazing countries around the world – Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark Italy (I want to retire in Tuscany), Various parts of India, Iran (well Kish Island), Kenya, Ghana, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Zanzibar, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, Switzerland and of course Orlando to name a few. I have been lucky and thankful.
One of my cool hobbies this decade has been to become an F1 Motorsport Marshal. Have been at the F1’s to marshal them since 2014 in Abu Dhabi. Hoping to do more marshalling in 2020 to then go abroad.
Lost my first 2 furbabies – Jasmine and Amira. Jasmine died on my Dubai anniversary 21 June 2019 and the ache is still there, but life has improved having my fatty Oreo and new darling Keanu.
I dated a lot of fuckwits – the last one was dumped on Boxing Day! On a plus, I didn’t get married or divorced. I think I was engaged during this decade, but never got the ring…
The depression has had its ups and downs. 2019 was particularly horrific for some reason, especially when in the Happiest Place in the World – Disney. Hoping this new year it will improve and the chemicals will be more balanced.
Finally, I drove my parents up the wall with my antics but I think they still love me and I love em. They have been very good to me in ways I cannot describe. Thanks, mummy and daddy x
So that’s my some of story. Thank you for reading and being part of my life this decade and beyond. Happy New Year and hopefully it will be joyful, interesting, safe and amazing.
One minute you are having a relaxing, happy time … and then a man will come and harass you.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, but you will be guaranteed to be bothered by a man at some point. That point was just now for me at the beach.
First of all this is not a criticism on the lovely place where I am on holiday currently, Zanzibar. The place is amazing, the people have been beautiful and it’s been very relaxing.
So I went out in the sea, picked up seashells and just generally relaxed on my last day by the beach.
Nearing the end of walk out of the sea back onto the beach, I saw 2 young guys walking slowly where I was walking towards the beach. I couldn’t stop and wait for them to pass due to jellyfish and sea urchins surrounding me. One guy looked and kept walking, the other stopped to wait for me.
Him: Jambo [hi in Swahili]
H: How are you?
M: Good thanks
H: Where are you staying.
M: nearby [I should have said nothing but was being polite and didn’t want to aggravate the situation]
H: How long for?
M: I leave tomorrow. Ok great talking to you.
H: Are you alone?
M: No with family (I’m lying, I’m solo but he doesn’t need to know)
His friend says in Swahili that the guy in the sea must be my man (he’s not, but i ain’t going to admit otherwise)
H: Is that your man.
H: Oh didn’t realise you were with him (how would he know before then??)
M: 😑. Your friend is waiting for you.
H: Let me show you around
H: I can take you on trips.
M: Thanks again. Bye.
H: [he keeps walking by my side and talking to me].
M: thanks bye.
Finally, I stopped and pretended to get a shell. He waited. I wouldn’t move. He finally moved onwards into the sea but parallel to me. I walked as close to the coral wall/cave as possible.
This was unwanted attention. Harassment.
If a girl makes no indication of being interested, f*** off. Seriously. Go.
The friend had got the idea quickly, this douche should have followed his lead. If I was interested it would have been clear on my face.
The worrying part was that I had to walk into half-caves (see above) to get to the steps to my hotel. He stayed near enough to me in the sea to make it a stressful few minutes up to the hotel. I shouldn’t have felt stressed, I shouldn’t have felt worried that he could drag me into the cave-like area and rape me. I shouldn’t have felt scared. I’m a grown lady and I was scared for a few long minutes, like a child.
Despite the #metoo movement, we still have these moments. We are empowered now to write a blog on these situations, to share our experiences on social media, to report when we are assaulted, but women are still in a losing situation. For some reporting the assault results in condemnation, for others, they just don’t get heard, and women like me, we have to experience the same rubbish we have experienced for all of our lives.
We shouldn’t even get to these situations!
I am exasperated by the fact that this happened to me and also that I am writing this blog. I am hoping that the more we call out this behaviour, the more men will realise this nonsense has to stop.
For now, this is another one to add to my #metoo story. Thanks, Douche.
Yesterday we went to see Crazy Rich Asians (very funny, clever and sad – you have to see it). As soon as walked into the movie we saw a baby in a mum’s lap and two kids under 3 sitting on seats in the front-ish rows. All three of us were perplexed of why the kids were in this movie. This is a PG13 movie, but we knew it was not suitable for young children and especially babies.
What happened as soon as the movie started? Well you guessed it, the baby screamed at the top of its lungs and the other two started crying. This went on for half of the movie. During that time I tweeted twice to the cinema chain.
In screen 5 at @voxcinemas mall of emirates and there are little babies screaming and crying whilst watching crazy rich kids. They shouldn’t be in this cinema. They are disturbing all of us.
(Ignore the fact that I gave the movie the wrong title – I was stressed!).
After about an hour, a gentleman got up walked out and must have complained as a staff member finally came in to check on the situation. The mother walked out with the baby, but the kids stayed in this non-age appropriate movie making a noise.
The cinema chain didn’t respond to my tweets until after the movie had finished. By then it was too late. The movie experience had been spoiled by these inconsiderate parents and the staff at the cinema.
The family should not have been allowed to buy a ticket for this movie with their children and definitely not allowed to enter the screening. As discussed in my previous blogs, if the movie is PG13 and 15 and the kids are escorted with their parents, they are allowed to watch the movie. That is the absurd law right now. No one with common sense has queried why movies have 13 or 15 on the end of the PG bit. Might as well make all the movies PG in that case, no?
I spoke to the Duty Manger of Vox Cinemas today and she agreed with my views on allowing these kids into adult movies.
The only way we can change this situation currently is for all of us to complain about our movie-going experience. Only with consistent, persistent complaining will upper management at these chains and the ministry take this situation seriously and hopefully change movie classifications, prevent kids from going to movies above PG 13 unless they are 11/12 and above, and also stop kids going to any movies after 9pm.
If you have bad experience at the cinema please do the following:
a. If it’s a PG13 or above and there are kids under 10 in the screening (preferably screaming) please complain to the cinema chain. Every time this happens.
b. Check if the staff come and review the screen and remove any noisy patrons from the cinema. They are allowed to remove anyone causing a disturbance and either refund them or put them in a more age appropriate movie. If no staff help, complain to the manager or on social media.
The chains are talking to the ministry about the film classification but for now, it is falling on deaf ears. We all need to keep complaining so that this is taken seriously. Yes the chains will lose money, but they will gain more happy returning cinema goers.
Let me know if you get a positive result from your complaints and hopefully soon we will start having an enjoyable experience watching movies here.