Photo Credit: TN
Myths of the Middle East
If I had a dime for every negative comment I received after purchasing my trip to Dubai, U.A.E, I could build an empire. “Girllll, uh uh thats too far,” “Isn’t that in the Middle East ?,” “You can’t do anything over there, you have to be completely covered to go outside,” “Where is that? That’s too long of a plane ride for me, but you enjoy.” Enjoy is an understatement. Patiently wanting to visit the U.A.E. for the past three years, became a reality in 2014 when 3 girls agreed to join me for this birthday excursion. How lucky was I, to have 4+ months to research and prepare for the trip of a lifetime? So many questions swirling in my head about what to wear, the weather, things to see and do, how do I communicate overseas, and most importantly how to enjoy my vacation but be safe as well. I literally dreamt what it would be like to step off the plane and breathe the air. My birthday was going to occur on the trip and being so far away, how was I going to make it memorable?
With a 15-hour flight from JFK ahead, I was’t sure how I would get through this. But I must say flying with the Emirates Airlines definitely made it comfortable. My advice to you would be to not sleep prior to boarding. It was much easier to travel and fall asleep after take off. But you won’t be sleep long, the beautiful stewardesses will be waking you soon for a great meal! “Chicken or Lamb Madam?” with her delightful English accent. The meals were actually great, full courses and included the dessert. Did I forget to mention the open bar? Yes, a bottle of red wine please! The movie selections were great! I got to catch up some new releases and relax. Paradise was almost tangible. So far the negativity about flying for a long duration wasn’t so bad after all.
Yes, I know! When you look at the location of the United Arab Emirates on a map it can be somewhat intimidating. I understood everyone’s concern for my safety BUT I didn’t let everyone else’s fears outweigh my dream. Visiting during the month of January was considered the winter. Being a native of Chicago I definitely get a chuckle out of this. With temps in the high 70’s, low 80’s and sunshine all day, Dubai made me feel like I forgot winter existed. A birthday extravaganza without snow? Yes, I was winning! The air was so crisp. Have you ever been somewhere and it didn’t feel real? I was lost in the moment and wanted someone to press pause on the “my life” button so I could just take it in and never let it go. I was so happy that I didn’t let anyone deter me from my Middle Eastern dream.
For months I researched how I should dress and what was acceptable. I found, for the most part, Dubai was considered pretty untraditional for tourists in tourist areas. I packed maxi dresses and maxi skirts for my daytime look. Contrary to belief, I was able to walk around freely throughout the city with bare arms and nothing covering my head. Now when visiting religious temples and sites, do be mindful to respect the culture. Traveling to Abu Dhabi, was something out of a movie; breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture of the Grand Mosque, left me hypnotized. But soon I snapped out of it once standing in front. The security quickly does a visual check to see if you meet the mosque attire requirements. However, I had bought my beautiful Abaya from a local market in the Dubai “Gold Souks” and brought it with me for the tour. It felt amazing to be a part of this culture and embrace something different. With this long beautiful material covering my body, I felt more beautiful than I ever had. Now ladies, if you choose to not wear traditional garments then that’s fine. As long as the body is completely covered, cover your head with a scarf of your own or from the markets. Fellas aren’t required to dress in traditional attire. Instead of nay sayers making me feel I would be an outcast, I felt a sense of connection.
Bright Lights & Night Life
A lounge with a good DJ and cute bartender is right up my alley. If you’re looking for a 3-in-1 night club and sushi bar then N’dulge NightClub is for you! Bright lights, catwalks and roofless terrace, located at the Atlantis Hotel. Admission : FREE. The DJ played great music and California rolls were scrumptious. Travelers you are free to dress how you want, 4-inch heels, crop top and skirt was my choice of outfit. The night skies were cool and clear and I danced with beautiful people from around the world.
All White Night on the Palm
My birthday would be the last evening on the Palm, how was I to conclude this amazing experience? With a little research, I stumbled upon “The One & Only Palm – 101 Dining Lounge and Bar”. Absolutely hands down the most amazing lounge ever built. This lounge is located behind the One & Only Hotel. The caddy drivers meet you at the front door and drive you onto this path which highlights the skyline and takes you onto the water. You are met by the hostess who escorts you to a reserved area for pre-dinner drinks. The ambiance is surreal. Surrounded by all creme decor and lavish views on the water of The Atlantis Hotel just across the way made you feel as if you have experienced heaven on Earth. Great food and service is a part of the dining experience at the restaurant. You can also step inside for a lounge menu which serves tapas. The relaxing sound of the water and light chatter left me feeling as if I had struck gold. The moment was so beautiful, I don’t think my pictures or words can truly do this any justice. All white dinner party at 101 Lounge had me feeling like I turned 28 in the most special way. Despite the nay sayers, I created memories and experienced the misbeliefs of the Middle East and found them to be FALSE!