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تَقَبَّلَ اللّهُ مِنَّ وَ مِنْكُمْ

May Allah accept (the fast and worship) from you and from us.

desert in uae

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I was away from the social media this Eid and the day after, so my sincere apologies to my friends and readers for the late greetings. For all those who celebrated, I hope you had a fabulous Eid this year. And to those who are going through very difficult times, our prayers and thoughts are with you.

On the morning of Eid, we attended the prayers at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, where the importance of peace, solidarity, tolerance, respect, and following the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (صلى الله عليه و سلم) were prominent in the sermon. This was followed by a calorie-laden breakfast at a Pakistani Restaurant, where we ordered paya and nihari.

Lunch was at my place. My sisters promptly dashed off  to the bedrooms to sleep, while my mother-in-law and I made some very fragrant Hyderabadi chicken biryani. My sister-in-law prepared kaddu ki kheer, which was very delicious.

It was during dessert that the impulsive decision was made, as always, to go somewhere. It took a while to decide where to go because first, we couldn’t agree on a destination and second, we’ve practically seen the entire country multiple times. We ended up driving towards Al Ain on a whim.

The picture above was taken on our way to Al Ain. There’s a huge stretch of desert all the way and, for some unexplainable reason, I just can’t seem to get enough of the red sand. The desert of Arabia is beautiful and mysterious. It is magnificent and commanding.

dubai to al ain

Somewhere during our long drive, the sand began to blow and notice how it has covered the entire road. It’s fascinating to watch the sand particles dance and slither it’s way across the road like a snake.

And after a while of driving through the desert, we were greeted by this:

greenery in al ain

 Al Ain means the spring and is the greenest city in the country.

Green Mubazzarah

For those familiar with the emirates and cities of the UAE, Al Ain is famous for its towering landmark, the Jebel Hafeet (the post was written way back during my early days of blogging. The photos and narration are cringeworthy but I suppose it’s also proof that I’ve improved a little bit in the years that followed).

At the feet of Jebel Hafeet lies the beautiful park called Green Mubazzarah. This park is special because this was one of the last projects of Sheikh Zayed, the country’s founding president. I’m told that Sheikh Zayed was often referred as “the man who turned the deserts green”.

green mubazara

Everyone dips their toes in this stream where hot water flows freely all throughout the year. The initial skin to water contact isn’t too comfortable, but once you get used to the heat, it feels like your feet are getting a nice massage. I saw a little boy lying in the middle of the stream with his eyes closed.

According to local geologists, the hot spring source lies deep underground, the result of thousands of years of tectonic plate movement. This movement created fractures that serve as channels bringing water up to the surface.

There was news of a mild earthquake the other day. You see, the UAE lies near areas of active earthquake zones, the main tectonic area lying beneath Iran so that whenever there’s an earthquake there we feel the tremors all the way to Dubai and Sharjah. The occurrence of these seismic activity causes the fractures to occur, and through these fractures the water rises to the surface.

Fun fact: 

The water temperature of the springs at the Green Mubazzarah is between 40°C and 45°C indicating that it’s coming from as deep as two kilometres underground, as the water heats up by 25°C for every 1,000 metres that it travels to the surface.

The Historic Mubazara Dam

Mubazara Dam

We had not planned on visiting the dam. Frankly speaking, we weren’t even aware of its existence. We just saw the sign on the way to Green Mubazara and thought, oh why not!

This dam was created by Sheikh Zayed in 1955. For a young country such as the UAE, it seems to me that anything that’s built before 2000 is considered historic.

Given that it’s the middle of the summer here, it was quite obvious that we weren’t going to see any water in the dam. But we wanted to see history with our own eyes, observe how things were built back in 1955.

mubazara dam al ain

Do you see the dam?

With us on Eid was a good family friend, Shahzad. Two years ago, this young man took us to see Thaddo Dam, located a few kilometers outside Karachi. It was a fun trip for all of us. Naturally, he was curious about Mubazara Dam.

dam in al ain

There’s nothing else to see here except that tiny structure and I can’t seem to find any information online about this dam. However, there are several chalets nearby. I assume people drive out here during the cooler months and stay for a few days for BBQ and to enjoy being close to nature.

A blog post with more details of Green Mubazarah here.

How did you spend your Eid?

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The summer holidays are on, and almost everyone I know is on vacation. In fact, I am also away on a weekend getaway in a lovely resort here in the northern part of the U.A.E. I can see the waves crashing to the shore from my hotel room window as I type this. And whilst still on this mini-holiday, I am already dreaming about where to go next.

Credit: radissonblu.com

Credit: radissonblu.com

So during my search for the next travel destination, I came across an interesting Global Summer Promotion that’s being run by Radisson Blu hotels. Now, I’ve just been to Radisson Blu Hotel in Deira a couple of days ago and have been pretty impressed by their location, service and facilities.

Save up to 20% by booking now.

Book online for a stay at Radisson Blu Hotel and Resorts and immediately save up to 20%. And it’s not just for Dubai. There are so many destinations to choose from, such as:

London – I’ve been to London recently and have been very impressed by the architecture and museums.

Paris – The international capital of style and a city that offers great food, from casual bistro lunches to candle-lit dinners prepared by world-class chefs.

Cape Town – The perfect place for those who love adventure and the outdoors. This city has gorgeous landscapes.

Istanbul – The city I’m planning to go next. Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Bosphorus Bridge amazingly connects Asia and Europe and should not be missed.

Bangkok – Spicy food and friendly people. A trip to the colourful China Town and the famous floating market is not to be missed.

And, there’s Dubai – home of the world’s largest mall, largest indoor ski facility, largest aquarium, world’s tallest structure, tallest hotel, amazing food and a great shopping destination.

That’s not all. You can also choose to visit Prague, Shanghai, Muscat, Amsterdam and so many more cities. All of these cities have so much to offer and Radisson Blu’s summer promotion will help you save 20% when you book online.

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Where are you travelling this summer?

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Photo credit: Oceanic's Facebook page

Photo credit: Oceanic’s Facebook page

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

No, I did not feel that way, although Mr. Grahame did make me laugh out loud. But if I were to be really honest, there is perhaps some truth in that; that last few hours at work before your planned break, when you are already mentally on vacation feeling all excited while everyone else is still going to be busy…

Our Weekend Drive to Fujairah

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We left on a Friday afternoon and reached Fujairah in less than two hours specially since there was no traffic. The highways are wide and well-built, like most of the roads here in the U.A.E, with speed limit set to 120 km/hr so that driving was a breeze. Plus, the highway snakes between mountains so it’s a rather scenic drive as well.

Oceanic Resort and Spa

Oceanic Khorfakkan Resort and Spa is owned by Sharjah Islamic Bank and managed by Sharjah National Hotels Group, a specialist in hotel and resort operations. The luxury resort offers an idyllic escape set on a pristine beach of the UAE’s picturesque East Coast, tucked away in the coastal town of Khorfakkan. It is a little over an hour drive from Dubai and Sharjah international airports; only 20 minutes from Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

Parking and Check-In

fujairah parking

There is a huge lot allocated for covered parking, so whenever you come there’s always a secure space for your car. Alternately, you can opt for valet parking.

Check-in is a breeze! The staff at the reception is friendly and helpful.

Rooms and View: Go for the Panoramic Suite!

This suite is the best in the hotel.

The Panoramic Suite Mountain view or Sea View—prime location in the corners of the hotel—has separate bedroom (with a king size bed) and living areas. There’s a TV, a desk with some stationery, a hair dryer, in-room safe, a bathrobe, slippers, and extra pillows.

bedroom oceanic resort

oceanic resort

The living area features 2 seater sofa and arm chair with dining table for 4 people, 42 inches LED TV, Wi-Fi Access, Non-alcoholic mini-bar (yay!), tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll also receive complimentary fruits on the dining table.

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fruits

Oceanic’s 360º Health Club and Spa

gym in fujairah

gym facilities in oceanic resort

Working out while facing and taking in the breathtaking views of the ocean and the mountains! You’ll want to come here often while staying in this resort.

spa in fujairah

spa in oceanic

Oceanic has a very good spa that I would recommend every guest to try out. Looking at the list, it is obvious that their treatment menu is inspired ingredients of the ocean.

An example is the Contouring Massage (60 mins for 320 AED) that is a massage treatment designed to help eliminate fat and cellulite by refining the silhouette and contouring those stubborn areas, whilst lying down and drifting in the marine world of phytoceane products.

Then there’s the Marine Softness (60 mins 320 AED) that is a facial designed for sensitive and reactive skins. It reduces redness and restores the skin’s defense system to help protect against external aggressions. The complete treatment from start to finish is a journey of coolness and calmness leaving not only your skin but your mind in a state of tranquility.

I’m definitely going back for a couple of spa treatments myself!

Iftar Buffet at Al Murjan

al murjan

iftar in fujairah

iftar

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One of the most calm and enjoyable iftar I have ever had in a restaurant. Al Murjan has huge glass windows that overlooks the ocean, the white beach, and also the swimming pool. A portion of the dining area is separated from the buffet counters by two large aquariums that help keep children occupied!

The food is delicious with just the right amount of variety to keep you from getting overwhelmed after an entire day of fasting.

This is also the very restaurant where I met one of Dubai’s blogger that I admire and follow: Kero’s Celebration. It was quite a surprise actually. I’ve been following Kero’s blog for quite sometime now but hadn’t met her in person yet. It was actually her son that I recognized first! I walked over to her table, interrupted their family meal, and introduced myself. Lovely people, I must say!

Fancy some privacy? Book a villa instead.

villa in fujairah

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Watching the sun rise from the hotel room window

sunrise in fujairah

rising sun in fujairah

Overall Impression:

Masood and I are highly impressed and would definitely recommend this resort for a relaxing and fun weekend. The place is ideal for families. There’s so much to do in the resort besides swimming and having spa treatments. You can go diving, have a boat ride, go parasailing, and have BBQ at the terrace of your villa.

For an easy and fast booking, click here for Oceanic’s new and interactive website. You can also call them at +971 9 2385111.

I was a guest at the resort, however all opinions and views are mine.

 

 

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