We took another tour. This time to a city called Al Ain. It is on the border with Oman, but seems how the University had my passport, I could not pass across the frontier.
Back to the tour.
The drive to Al Ain was really nice. The desert changes color from the coast where it is grey, to further inland where it is brown, and then it quickly changes to a warm red. The highway was a modern freeway. It was nice to get out of the metropolis’ of Dubai and into the countryside, if for no other reason than there was no traffic.
Before we left Dubai, our guide took us to the Dubai Art Gallery. I walked in and was truly admiring the incredible works of art on the walls and displays. The word priceless came to mind. Until I noticed price tags. I worked up the courage to check the asking price of a wall hanging done in silk and precious stones. My math skills suck, and I could not divide the very long number by 3.65 (which is the exchange rate, 1 US$ = 3.65 Dirhams) and I did not feel like pulling out my calculator equipped cell phone to do the math. I already felt like a bumpkin anyway. Then the guide dropped us off at a place called “World of Luxury”. I thought the malls here were expensive. No no. THIS is where the real money is spent. As we were walking from little boutique store to little boutique store selling very expensive clothes and jewelry Mary Ann and I both said, at the same time, “I wonder where the food court is”. The only thing we could afford in there was natural pearl necklaces. Before the UAE discovered oil, their biggest trade item was the pearl. They still harvest natural pearls in abundance and the prices reflect it. Mary Ann knows what she is getting for her birthday.
Then we went out of the city and Drove across the country to Al Ain. The first stop on any tour is always a museum. This one had cool stuff, many antiquities, but the coolest was a collection of photographs from the past. I looked at some fotos from the same era I was living in Bolivia as a child. I thought Bolivia was undeveloped because we could not make an international phone call or get Television. These people were still living in tents and herding camels. In a generation they have gone from that to this, while Bolivia sleeps.
Then we went to a Camel Market! Yeah, coulda bought a real camel.
The above camel was brand new mama. When Mary Ann was told there was a one day old baby nearby, she walked over to see it. This mama ran over and bellowed like, well like a camel, to scare Mary Ann away. The baby was really cute, about the size of a large dog.
We had lunch at the camel market. A real honest to goodness Arabian lunch, although I used two hands to eat.
After lunch I was ready for a siesta
Then we went to “The Green Zone”
This is a park that the govt of Abu Dhabi has established for recreation. I t has a hot springs recreation area and a new community. They are retaking the desert here. The picture is taken from a mountain above it. In the far far distance is Saudi Arabia.
Then we drove back to Sharjah. The drive back, all the way across the country took less time than the drive across the City of Sharjah. For all the fancy building they do here, they laid out their roads abysmally. I’ll say it again, traffic here is horrible. We entered Sharjah from the desert side, into the industrial zone. In a while we were in the used car parts section of town. Every where in this country, commerce is segregated. If you want a cell phone, you go to the cell phone sector where entire city blocks have nothing but cell phone stores. Same for anything else you can name, furniture etc. This used car parts section went on for it seemed miles. It got me thinking about a law they have in the UAE. No car can be more than ten years old. No cash for clunkers here. They crush a ten-year old car and sell it for scrap metal, to China where they make new clunkers out of them. So I asked our guide (a brief aside, he was a great kid, Pakistani, who speaks 7 languages) “but what if you own a 10-year-old Mercedes of Lamborghini, or a Bentley? You don’t crush a ten-year old Bentley!” He said that those get consigned to Auction houses for purchase and shipment to other countries. I have decided I want to export a Bentley to Panama. Anyone want it in Bocas?