Showing posts with label Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Out of the Ordinary - Abu Dhabi Airport Sleep Pods

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I have never been to Abu Dhabi Airport and never have I use its facilities because I have always been using Dubai Aiport for our trips but in Abu Dhabi airport a cocoon is making a buzz recently and its sounds very interesting. Abu Dhabi Airport has installed Sleep Pods for weary passengers transiting in AUH airport.

Sleep Pods feature a manual sliding door and the seat gets converted to a cozy bed, an alarm that will go off so you will not miss your flight, and charging ports for cellphone and laptops, how cool is that? There are 10 sleep pods currently available in Abu Dhabi airport and 50 more will be added in October this year with an upgrade version boasting WiFi and movie streaming.  The use of these sleep pods are free of charge for now but there is a plan to charge AED 45 per hour in the future.

photo credit

Hope that Dubai airport will follow the lead and also airports in the world. I also hope that after the renovation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, they will thought of having these cool alien looking pods.
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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Al Ain Engagement Session - Ronnel & Jeah

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Our good friend Ronnel and Jeah are tying the knot by end the year in Philippines. Allow me to share to you some of the photos of their official engagement session. Yours truly was given the honor to be their creative director and photographer. The camera used here is a 60D Canon with 18mm x 200mm lens.

Al Ain Paradise was the first location of the shoot and this place holds the Guinness World Record with the largest display of hanging flower baskets.


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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Touring Sheikh Zyed Grand Mosque in my abaya

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Touring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must when you are visiting Abu Dhabi. We've been here four years ago and it was not yet complete. The gardens outside still waiting to be landscaped. We wanted to enter the mosque to see the grandeur of the famed place of prayer but we were denied due to strict clothing policy so we content ourselves photographing it from the outside.


Four years later and we are back with two of our friends. I make sure to check the mosque management website before our trip in order not to be denied for the second time. Looking at the dress code below, I understood that we were not properly dressed before. There were dressing booths at the entrance now where ladies can borrow abaya and Shayla which were not there before. My friend and I each took an abaya and Shayla to cover ourselves. The abaya was easy to put on but wearing the headscarf is quite tricky though. We struggled to keep it in place all the time. Our partners were fine in their clothes.


Moving on to the more exciting part of the tour but first, let me tell you that this is a complimentary guided tour. It is one of the FREE things you can do in Abu Dhabi. It was Friday and we joined the 5pm schedule. A local tour guide told the visitors to come closer before a brief introduction. When he finished, we were divided into groups and different tour guides were assigned in each group.

Our local guide was well versed. He speaks fluent English except for the Arabic terms he was explaining to us. There was a myth I'd like to confirm with him so I asked if all the gold we see around are real gold. "Only those that you cannot reach are real gold", he answered with a chuckle. He was talking about those ones in the minarets and the domes.


The size of the SZGM is the size of five football fields. It can accommodate up to 40,000+ worshippers inside and out. It features 82 domes, the main dome the largest of its kind measuring 32.8 meters in diameter where the worlds largest chandelier made of Swarovski crystals weighing nine tonnes hang.


Reflective pools surround the mosque and it's best to capture the mosque reflection at night. The unique lighting system is responsible for that beautiful bluish-gray cloud projected in the external walls which reflect the phases of the moon and changes every day.

Italian white marble and inlaid floral designs adorn the prayer halls while the interior walls have decorative gold-glass mosaic features



The main glass door weighs 2.2 tonnes and measures 12.2 meters high and 7 meters wide


Inside the main prayer hall is the worlds largest hand-knotted carpet handcrafted by 1300 Iranian artisans. There are 2, 286,000 knots and it took them two years to finish it before finally spreading it on the floors of the mosque. It did not get here in UAE in one big piece. Another 500 people came to Dubai from Iran with it to finish it in the mosque itself. If you can see, the carpet has an almost invisible line pattern where the worshippers lined up during prayer.  


 The Qibla wall (facing the direction of the Holy City of Mecca) is 23 meters high and 50 meters wide in which the 99 names (qualities) of Allah is written in traditional Kufi calligraphy designed by UAEs prominent calligrapher - Mohammed Mandi. This is the counterpart of the altar and priest ( Imam in Islam) pulpit in our churches.

                             

Gold-glass mosaic has been used in the Mehrab-it's the one in the above photo in the middle of the Qibla wall with golden ripples. The floral design clock on the wall indicates the time of prayer, it is five times during the day.


 As you can see all the details and the design are made to perfection. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the result of the vision of the founding father of UAE, the late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan whose remains finds its final resting place in the mosque courtyard.




That's me and my friend in our Emirati traditional clothes.






 For full information about SZGM please visit their website here

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Thursday, August 02, 2012

Sand Boarding in Liwa 101

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Sandboarding is one of the activities we engage ourselves in during our stay in Tilal Liwa. It was our first time doing the sport and we were on our own. Carrying two boards from the hotel and four cold bottled water, we went in search of the ideal dune. :) hehe! Actually, there is no ideal dune, It's just a product of my own imagination hehhehe! The height of the dune you will use depends on how courageous you are to try it. From far the mounds of sand look small but when you get there it is humongous. We were all beginners - did I said that already? :D

The sand dunes all look like this surrounding the hotel and from the hotel, we walked to here, it is about  500 meters away. We decided to use the dune we first reached because going to the next is a suicide, it's too hot outside may be more than 50 degrees C and the sand gets hotter by the minute.



At this point, we only followed our instincts.
First step: Stand at the top of the dune, position the board at the edge of the slope.



Second Step: Slowly slide the board downward, keep your knees bent and keep your balance as you slide


Third Step: Let slide until you reach the bottom. You can scream all you want if you feel like doing so. :D


Now we have learned the steps on how to do the proper sandboarding, you can also try other positions like the sitting position



While out in the sun, keep yourself well hydrated, the only thing was the cold water can easily become lukewarm in the heat so drink it before it boils. :D

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tilal Liwa Hotel Summer 2012

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A road trip to the southern most part of Abu Dhabi was our best bet for our summer getaway for 2012. We booked two rooms at Tilal Liwa Hotel for the weekend. Tilal Liwa Hotel is perched at the edge of the Rub Al Khali desert-the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world and is home to the highest sand dune Tel Moreeb.

We started from Sharjah at 9 am Picked up our friends and head for a quick breakfast before starting our journey. It was a three to three and a half hour drive to Liwa from Dubai. That's about 330-380 km so we stock up on water, finger foods and filled our tank with gas full.



We reached the hotel by midday and it was scorching hot outside. Ferald chose to park the car himself instead of giving it to the valet. There was an ample parking space just outside in front of the hotel but it was too hot to walk from the parking to the hotel even if it was just a few meters away. A covered walkway would be great.

Nonetheless, the doorman greeted us with a smile and assist us with our bags. They served us some refreshing mint lemonade as we check in.

The very friendly Filipina staff allowed us to check in an hour early since one of the rooms we booked was ready. As she handed the keys to our room she said that they have upgraded our rooms with balcony and courtyard view. I have requested for this while booking the room but was not given the confirmation and was told it is upon availability. Thank you Tilal Liwa :)

The rooms are spotlessly clean. There were complimentary tea and coffee. The shower is working well with the hot and cold setting. There are many TV channels including English channels and wifi is also available and it is for free.:D


Dinner and breakfast were good. Dinner and breakfast were included in our room package but it doesn't include the barbecue. The smell of grilled meats and seafood at the terrace was irresistible so, in addition to the lavish spread already at Al Badiya restaurant, we shelled out an extra AED 175 or $ 20/ person for it.

The infinity pool was our favorite. Instead of overlooking the sea, it overlooks to some great sand dunes.We enjoyed it most in the morning after we finished with sand boarding since we really need to cool down. We could only manage sand boarding for 20 minutes before deciding to go back to the hotel. It was really fun but it was too hot to stay out. If it was in winter, we could have stayed longer and try to find higher dunes to try.

There are other activities like camel farm tour, dessert safari, quad biking, and table tennis. We could not go to the camel farm tour for lack of time so instead, the boys played table tennis while me my friend chilled at the swimming pool.

Tilal Liwa is not in Liwa proper, Liwa and Madinat Zayed City is another 30 minutes drive from Tilal Liwa and the Tel Moreeb-the highest sand dune in the world is another hour drive but it is really worth the visit.

Have you been to Tilal Liwa. Honestly, I want to go back.
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

At the edge of a great big desert...

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Can you guess where this awesome place is? Are you clueless or have you been here once and wanted to come back just like me?


This place is the home of the highest sand dune in the world. A cranking 120-meter tall 50-degree slope and is located at the edge of Rub Al Khali Desert - the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world also known as the Empty Quarter. 

This is Liwa -  the birthplace of the Baniyas Tribe or the Al Nahyan family and now the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Liwa is in the southernmost part of Abu Dhabi, almost at the border to Saudi Arabia. It is an oasis with around 50 thriving villages.

This is also the farthest road trip we have done ever in UAE. A stretch of 330-380 km drive from Dubai/Sharjah all the way to this place for three hours, four if you cannot help to stop to take photo.


We stayed at the Arabian inspired hotel. Tilal Liwa Hotel is a four-star hotel with a five-star appeal.


Tilal Liwa is not yet in Liwa proper but already the sand dune overlooking the car park is surreal. 

Liwa from the hotel is another 30 minutes drive while the Tel Moreeb Hill is to another hour. The hotel provided us a road map to Liwa and to Tel Moreeb so we weren't lost at all.


The ample car parking outside the hotel was full and the hotel was fully booked even it was in the middle of summer.


We saw this fort on our way to Moreeb Hill.














The road to Tel Moreeb gets a little bumpy at times. As you can see, nature tries to reclaim itself.



This is the Tel Moreeb dune. The highest among all the giant shifting sand dunes in this area. It is deserted during our visit but once a year there is a festival here attended widely by motor enthusiasts.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Al Ain Paradise at Last

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I don't know how many roundabouts we've passed and missed looking for Al Ain Paradise last Friday while chasing and asking taxi drivers for direction. If we only knew that this new park is a just a stone's throw away from Al Ain Zoo, it would have been easier to find it since we have been to Al Ain Zoo many times before and we exactly know how to get there.

Apparently, Al Ain Paradise is located at Zakher Area, Sweifi Disctrict but we are missing on the road signs, non of it gave us a hint. We try to follow Town Center hoping it will give us a clue but to no avail. One taxi driver was very helpful when we ask for directions, he ask us to follow him but it seems that we are way too far from the desired destination so we stopped for awhile as he gave my husband more road directions, we followed it until we have reached the R/A heading towards Al Ain Zoo and from there we turn right, went straight to the next R/A, went straight again and took a U-turn on the next R/A back to the second one. Al Ain Paradise is on the right side before reaching the R/A and a quick turn to the right is the parking space. It was a Friday and we have expected it to be crowded and it is indeed packed with visitors taking pictures at every corner and flower baskets.:)

We are up for an amateur photography for a friends engagement session and the bride-to-be requested to shoot at Al Ain Paradise which was awarded by the Guinness World Records as the holder for the largest display of hanging flower baskets last February 28, 2011 and of course to take a look at it too. In my last write-up about our trip in Al Ain, I promised myself that it will be first on my list next time.


The weather was strangely hot last Friday and it was a little bit hazy too as opposed to what I was hoping for but it did not stop us from shooting beautiful pictures of the couple. R&J engagement session will be in another post soon.

At the gate, you will be greeted by flower scents but I'm not pretty sure if it's really from the flowers or from a scent diffuser coz I only smell it near the gate and not the rest of the place where there are a lot of blooms. Also there are a lot of park rule enforcers with whistles, they ask people to refrain from plucking flowers nor step on the grass, vandalism and littering is forbidden otherwise fine will be imposed. I cannot blame the park management  to be this transparent of the park rules and regulations after they forced the closure of the park one time in December 2010 and only re-open in March 2011 due to vandalism, littering and flower picking. "The park have incorporated all modern landscaping methods and device unique irrigation method to keep the flowers bloom for most of the year." This effort and money will go to waste if people who visits the park for whom it was built will just ruin it.

OK enough of the rants lets move on to something more interesting shall we. What can I say, it was beautiful and very eye pleasing, I think I can stay there forever hehehe :). I could only take few photos as I pass by, as I have said I was there for another purpose. I did not have even a single photo of myself for souvenir but I took lovely photos of family and friends.














If you would like to visit Al Ain Paradise Flower Garden visiting hours are from 8 am to 9 pm and entrance is free. Sundays and Wednesdays are for ladies only, Fridays and Saturdays are for families, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are general.

Update 06/03/2016: A bigger and better version of Al Ain Paradise is now in Dubai as Dubai Miracle Garden
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