Back to blogging and back after 3 years! This time with a purpose. Let me begin by asking, how many of you have spent Diwali in a foreign land? Before you answer, you might be aware that Diwali is celebrated with pompous across the globe. Yes, Diwali might be just another event abroad, but it is a matter of a great deal in India. Diwali in India is all about the lighting of diyas, kandils, firecrackers and of course, sweets and more sweets. I mean it is one of the festivals I look forward to every year, thanks to the lengthy holidays, be it during school or work. But imagine those who might be away from their near and dear ones for the first time this year?
After working as a reporter for 2 and half years (yes, that included working on public holidays), my family and I revelled Diwali together, that too in the middle-eastern style. And I must say this hiatus was what the family needed. Through Veena World, off we ventured to Dubai-Abu Dhabi.
Here is why it was one-of-a-kind Diwali for us in 2018:
1) Dhow Cruise, Dubai Marina: Also known as the canal city, Dubai Marina is all about shiny high rises and sprawling infrastructure, portraying human excellence. One of the best ways to enjoy this glittering magnificence is the Dhow cruise. This cruise gives you a glimpse of the past and present of this thriving metropolis. And you can enjoy a sumptuous three-course meal under the glittering night sky.
2) Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Palm Monorail: The iconic Burj Al Arab is truly an icon of luxury placed right in the middle of white sand and blue sea. It is believed that the shape of the hotel resembles the sail of the ship. A few distance away is the Palm Monorail. It runs along the length of Palm Jumeirah, connecting all the way to the entry of Palm Atlantis Hotel. Oh, you also get to view Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan's villas on the way ????
3) Desert Safari: Your visit to the Arabian land is complete only after you take the Desert Safari ride. The Safari last for half n hour to 45 mins followed by the traditional belly dance and Mediterranean food. DO. NOT. MISS. THIS. ADVENTURE.
4) Dubai Mall: One of the largest shopping malls in UAE is home to the Sea Aquarium, Fountain Show and the beast, Burj Khalifa. Agar Dubai aake Burj Khalifa nahi dekha toh kya dekha! It is worth an experience to get a 360-degree view of the Downtown Dubai that shows the zigzag roads, Emaar's creations such as The Address and lot's more. Perched 'At the Top', it was a surreal affair. And it was laced with the popular Burj Khalifa laser show along with the dancing fountains.
5) Miracle Garden: One of the signature creations of Dubai is the Miracle Garden. Every year from November to mid-May Dubai comes to life with a variety of colourful flowers and scents. There are over 150 million flowers surrounding a space of 72,000 sqm. Truly it is a magnificent creation on a deserted island.
6) Bollywood Parks: The first of its kind theme park in Dubai is the perfect tribute to the icons of Indian cinema - Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and others. The park has chosen some legendary movies of Hindi cinema and converted them into shows, events, rides and more.
7) Dubai Frame: The new addition to the Dubai tourist attraction family is, the Frame. The Guardian newspaper has described it as 'the biggest picture frame on the planet.' It offers you a view of modern Dubai on one end, the old city on the other side. It was launched in January 2018.
8) Sheikh Zayed Mosque: If you go to Abu Dhabi and miss out on this architectural masterpiece, it would be a crime. The grand mosque is host to daily prayers, Friday gathering and Eid prayers. During Eid, the mosque is visited by almost 41,000 people. Some of the takeaways from the mosque is the world's largest carpet in the main prayer hall, the shiny chandeliers, and the Qibla wall that features 99 attributes of God (Allah) in traditional Kufic calligraphy.
9) Ferrari World: Want to end the trip with some thrill? Enter Ferrari World and join the race. From the world's fastest roller coaster to family rides to kid rides, everything is under one roof in the Yas Island. Considering it was Diwali, you could find the Festival of Lights event showcasing some beautiful talents on traditional and Bollywood songs.
Food & Hotels:
1) Food: If you would have visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the early 90s, especially being an Indian, it would have been difficult to survive, concerning food. Now that the number of Indians thriving in this city is rapidly rising, food issues are a passe. You can even find Jain food today in the city. Veena World ensured we were served the best food wherever we went.
2) Hotels: Deira City is the hub to the best hotels in Dubai. Of course, the high-end hotels are within the Dubai Marina but if you want to enjoy the skyline of Dubai, head to Aloft City Center. Adjoining the hotel is the City Center Mall.
In Abu Dhabi, Yas Island is home to some of the best hotels, one of them being Yas Rotana. It is closer to the Yas Mall and Ferrari World.
Shopping, shopping and more shopping:
There is a preconceived notion that Dubai and Abu Dhabi duty-free are the only places where you can find the best shopping deals. False. Head to City Centre Mall and move straight to Carrefour, the Big Bazaar of Dubai. Find all items from beauty to clothes to consumer goods to crockery to gadgets for dirt cheap price. And if you want to indulge in some gold, take an Abra Boat from Dubai Creekside, enjoy the view and in 10 mins you shall reach the Gold Souk. From spices to gold to traditional junkies, everything can be found here.
If you want further discounts, go to 1 to 20 AED shop at BurJuman.
All this sounds nothing less than a dream, right? Thanks to our lead actor Mr Nilesh Mhaske who ensured we were entertained and guided us throughout the journey. No movie is complete without some supporting crew such as the Dubai guides at various destinations, providing us with handy information and our bus coach/captain.
Lastly, a huge thanks to the audience who made the movie a blockbuster, the families who in the true sense made us feel, 'Home away from home.' I have been to 3 tours with Indians, twice with Veena World, and it surprises me as to how in just a span of 6-7 days, we mingle and learn about each other.
As our tour manager Mr Nilesh Mhaske had mentioned, 'Diwali dusre desh mein manane ka alag hi mazza hai.' We had a Laxmi Puja in the foreign land, enjoyed a feast at a famous Indian restaurant and thanks to him as well as Veena World, those who left their close ones behind found a family within the 34 people present in the tour.
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