Posts by Nin
This is my first time to see The New Dubai and Burj Khalifa, and as we are meeting Keith’s daughter and her new baby the next day, I thought I’d better to get it off my chest to photograph Burj Khalifa and it’s singing fountain that only happens in the evening. I asked a shop keeper of a souvenir shop in Dubai Mall when will the Singing Fountain start and he said “It won’t start before 6.30 pm and it will only show every 30 minutes.
As a good photography enthusiast, I learned that:
- Do a reconnoiter how to get to the location of where I would shoot the picture later on and how to get there.
- A nicer picture should be taken during the magic hour, or around sunset; and sunset was supposed to be around 6.02 pm and twilight should be at 7.01 pm.
- Come early and prepare my photography gear for action.
Thus I decided to arrive between 5.30 to 6 o’clock, so that still plenty of time for me as well as I won’t keep my husband waiting too long… the thing that he has to put up with – waiting for me photographing nonsense. However, I did not expect is this:
There’s no way to find a space for me to set up my tripod and take pictures over those heads and arms with cameras. I wonder where are all these people are coming from? If they are residents, how often do they take pictures of this as the singing fountain happens everyday? If they are tourists like me, I salute Dubai for it’s ability to attract tourism so much.
Another hick-up I had was as I was using my new camera, which is a Nikon D600, a full frame camera but able to mount a DX lens. What I didn’t quite understand was how to look for the framed picture through the view finder, thus this is the result:
I realized then that the location I chose to take the picture was too close to the object and too low. I needed to be further away from the object like this:
What do you think???
I also uploaded some picture on Nin’s Lenscape - my photography blog
I have lived in Doha, Qatar for almost 8 years. Yes, I was in Bahrain in between, but overall for almost 8 years I lived in the Middle East as an expat. But, unlike many other expats who frequently go to Dubai for their R & R (Rest and Relax). Last time Keith and I went to Dubai was maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Then Dubai was the razzmatazz centre of the Middle East until suddenly everything went quiet due to the bubble burst of 2008. What we heard after that was nearly everybody was forced to leave Dubai. Then, the major Dubai attraction was the Burj al Arab with it’s 7 star hotel, and the ski slope inside a shopping mall.
Fast forward now, Dubai economy has picked up. When we arrived at the airport recently, I couldn’t believe so many tourists were coming to Dubai. The question is what are they now expecting of Dubai? What is the object of tourism? What activities are they gonna do?
Well for us, we are meeting Keith’s daughter and her new baby for nostalgia of living in Dubai/Arabia more than 25 years ago, when she was 2 to 12 year old girl. For me especially I was just going to see the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the new tourist destination in Dubai, and taking it’s picture as a Photography Enthusiast and a Seasoned Travel Photographer.
As we are already in Dubai, why not go up to the top, to see ‘view from the top’ of Burj Khalifa. So we booked the ticket to go to the top a week in advance since according to a friend who’s been up there told me to book well in advance, and no point to pay extra to get an express way to the top, the queue is too long to be able to squeeze in.
At the Top
The lobby and the ticket booth to go to the observation deck of “At The Top” was quite impressive; it shows where they are among the very ‘few’ tall architecture building in the world, as well as the model of the building with it’s surroundings.
From this point, they direct us to the ticket checking point, we were led for a long walk towards the lift, with a few stops in between which explained the view point we will see once we we are “up there”
The journey to go up in the lift was also unique, as to go up to the 124th floor took us only a minute in the lift, and one didn’t feel any dizziness or pressure on the ears as its traveled very fast. Once we are up there, there are plenty of telescopes to look down to the surrounding area of Burj Khalifa, and yes, the view was breathtaking.
On the way back down, we walked through a corridor showing a quick slide on milestones of the building during construction and all the pictures of people who involved with the construction.
However, as interesting and unique as it is the tallest building in the world at the moment, I question myself whether Dubai really needs such tall building, and once you are up there, was it a magnificent view or still a desert looking view?
Kami tiba di Bandara Heathrow lebih dari tiga jam terlalu cepat, maklum penginapan terakhir jaraknya 2½ jam dari bandara. Setelah melakukan wisata lokal ke Salisbury, kami memutuskan untuk membuang waktu di Bandara saja. Dan karena kami menggunakan Emirates Airline, terminal yang digunakan di Heathrow adalah terminal 3, khusus untuk maskapai penerbangan lain selain British Airways dan dengan tujuan arah barat dari Inggris. Terminal ini tidak besar, dan dengan banyaknya maskapai asing yang menggunakan terminal ini, menjadikan terminal ini penuh dengan calon penumpang yang menunggu. Pesawat kami baru akan berangkat pukul 8.40 malam sementara itu kami sudah tiba di bandara sekitar jam 5 sore. Menghabiskan waktu di bandara dengan melakukan window shopping di duty free area yang sangat kecil dibandingkan dengan pengalaman belanja di Dubai Mall seminggu sebelumnya, duty free shopping ini sama sekali tidak berarti. Menunggu makan malam yang diberikan di pesawat akan terlalu lama. Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk makan di restauran yang bukan fast food, sekalian mengakhiri liburan ini dengan gaya.
Karena suami saya menyukai makanan laut, dan tertarik dengan seafood yang di pajang di etalase dari seafood bar yang berlokasi ditengah ruang tunggu terminal, kami lalu memutuskan untuk makan malam ringan di ‘seafood bar’ ini: ‘Caviar House & Prunier” Melihat dari lokasi dari seafood bar ini, sama sekali tidak eksotis, mirip tempat makan cepat saji (fast food) tapi cara menyajikannya sangat menarik. Saya lalu memutuskan untuk memesan makanan yang ‘agak’ eksotik : ”signature menu” mereka: “Pourqoui Pas?”. Agak mahal memang, tapi kan kami mengakhirinya adengan GAYA.
Tidak lupa kami juga memesan wine – white wine (anggur putih) sebagai minuman pelengkap untuk makan makanan laut.
Biasanya saya tidak begitu suka makan caviar – telur ikan, karena ini sangat amis, tapi ternyata cara makan caviar adalah dengan roti toast, bersama sejumput putih telur dan sejumput irisan bawang merah sebagai penyedap dan mengurangi rasa amis… hmmm rasanya bukan main, sedaap….
Yang membedakan seafood bar ini tidak seperti tempat makan cepat saji atau restauran biasa adalah setelah makan kami di berikan coklat pencuci mulut sebagai komplemen dari seafood bar ini.
Yang kami tidak tau adalah bahwa di ‘darat’ restaurant ini adalah ‘speciality restaurant’ khusus makanan laut yang punya cabang di seluruh Eropa: “Caviar House & Prunier” memiliki seafood bar di banyak bandara di Eropa, Asia dan Australia, termasuk di Dubai dan Hongkong.
Ini alamat persisnya untuk Seafood Bar yang kami kunjungi:
TW6 1EB Hounslow, Middlesex Phone: +44 (0)208 897 1332
Jam buka: 6.30 – 21.30
Initially I didn’t intend to show pictures or write about mosque in my Syrian series anymore, but this morning, I heard the news that the Minaret of one of the great mosques has finally fallen down to rubble due to the civil war in Syria. I also saw a flash of picture on tv of something that used to be a well preserved and beautiful mosque.
So what is so important of this minaret anyway? Well, this is a small fact: it is the oldest part of the mosque that is prominent and noteworthy square 45 m² minaret. The Minaret’s earliest restoration dates to 1090 during the Seljuk dynasty. The Minaret boasted intricate bands of carved Kufic inscriptions along its length that alternate with bands of stylized ornaments in patterns and moqarnas
Here are some pictures that I managed to take in 2011, a memory from it’s hay day, just days before the war erupted.
The Great Mosque of Aleppo was also called Umayyad Mosque. It was also built during the Umayyad period in the Middle East, 10 years after the Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Originally this Great Mosque of Aleppo was built on the site of a former Roman temple and Byzantine cathedral built by St. Helen (mother of Constantine the Great). The mosque was founded by the Umayyad Caliph al Walid in 715 AD, and completed by his successor Caliph Suleiman.
Like its sister mosque in Damascus, this one is also built off the souk. The main entrance to the mosque was directly at the extension of the souk with great traditional open market atmosphere. Thus the idea of a mosque is a place for the people gathering, not only a place to worship.
Throughout its history the building has endured multiple renovations and reconstructions in response to natural disasters (earthquakes and fire) and to modify its use, resulting in the development of its surroundings. Nural Din rebuilt in in 1169 after a great fire and the mosque was destroyed yet again during the Mongol invasion in 1260.
Because of the above reasons, the recent mosque design and layout was totally different from what was originally built, except the minaret that had survived so far. When I visited the mosque, it looked so immaculately beautiful, as it has undergone an extensive renovation (2003-4) during which, the minaret were especially restored. However, today’s civil war destroyed the mosque yet again, and this time including the long standing Minaret.
I think this photography collection is now precious. And another proof of the history of human civilisation has now gone just like that because of the conflict between humans. Worse of all, the destruction from the current war has the worst impact of destruction, approximately five out of six World Heritage Buildings have been damaged in this war according to UNESCO.
As a normal woman, I love shopping, from grocery shopping in Carrefour Supermarket, to a fancy boutique to try on expensive new clothes by having the shop assistant helping me choose the right dress. My husband is just the same. He loves shopping and as a matter of fact I think he is the best shopper I know.
As I live in the Middle East, I have the privilege of experiencing the Souk; a bazaar where people exchange goods over a friendly conversation. I love visiting the souk, the traditional ones are more fascinating than the modern ones. However, my visit to the Grand Souk of Aleppo two years ago was like no other. It was memorable; I had to opt out of joining our tour bus to go back to the hotel, just to explore the souk slowly and do as Lonely Planet suggested to: “get lost in Aleppo souk”. I even had to go back the next day just to feel the warmth from the shop keepers, the slow moving activity along the grand corridor of souk Al-Attarine. There’s no hustle and bustle of a real busy market; yet everything they sell and the decoration between shops are forever intricate and fascinating. Once I was outside the covered bazaar, the atmosphere changed 180 degrees, the vibrancy of a real market was there; not so intricate, but yet it was equally interesting.
Compared to Al Hamadiyyah Souk in Damascus, where the main corridor is wide, Aleppo Souk had narrower alleyways, yet it was more interesting than the one in Damascus. First developed in the 13th century, but most of it was built during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire between 15th and 17th century. Each different alleyway reflects different ornaments and architecture finishes of the corridor’s facade. But what fascinated me most was the different ceilings types and its illumination system along each corridor, from an opening to the dome shaped ceiling to let in natural light to fancy lighting pendants that represent the traditional Middle Eastern lights.
The fact that Aleppo has been shelled, shattered, destroyed, and left in ruins many times in the past; during the Byzantines and the Mongol period; I am sure that once the current war is over, Aleppo will rebuild again. But what was once the greatest bazaar of the Medieval period, and the finest in the Middle East is now gone, burnt to ashes.
Of course, there’s this term “restoration”, or even for the sake of tourism, there is “re-creation, which could be better than nothing, but the memory and history of the place will be forever different. And it is a fact as Kevin Rushby said: “the world’s greatest treasures has been lost”.
I didn’t manage to explore the Souk as much as I wanted to, but I feel very lucky that I still managed to witness and to record with my camera a little bit on how it was during the early 21st century’s finest glory days.
If you are interested in my other posts about Syria, check out: I’ve been to SYRIA
The Umayyad Mosque is one of the most important mosques in the history of Islam; it holds a special significance to the Shi’ah Muslims. This was where the Prophet Muhammad made the walk from Baghdad (Iraq).
The history of the building:
Built originally as a temple by the Arameans to worship the god of storms and lightening or a temple of Hadad-Ramman. When the Romans conquered Damascus in 64 CE they assimilated Hadad with their own god of thunder or better known as Temple of Jupiter. Under the direction of Damascus-born architect Apollodorus, the Romans continued to expand the Temple as the new Greco-Roman Temple of Jupiter which was intended to serve as a response to the Hebrew temple in Jerusalem.
Towards the end of the 4th century, in 391, the Temple of Jupiter became a church, and converted into the Cathedral dedicated to Saint John (John the Baptist) by the Christian emperor Theodosius I (r. 379–395). Legend has it that Saint John’s head was buried there. It served as the seat of the Bishop of Damascus, who ranked second within the Patriarchate of Antioch after the patriarch himself
In 636 CE, after the battle of Yamouk, Damascus was conquered by the Muslims under the leadership of Khalid-bin-Waleed, and the prayer space became a shared space between the Muslims and the Christians. The Muslims prayed on the eastern section and the Christians prayed on the other side. But soon this space was not enough for the Muslims and the reign of the Umayyad Caliph al Walid I negotiated with the Christian leaders to take over the space, and pay compensation for the Christians to move to the other side of the Old Town, as it is now.
They built the Mosque on its current location in 706 to 715 CE. The construction of the mosque was based on the mosque of the Prophet Muhammad in Madinah. It was built with the help of skilled workers from the Byzantine Empire and that reflected on its exterior style of the building, as well as the interior decoration in the main prayer hall. The middle columns supporting the building have the Corinthian order.
This mosque has 3 towers, or in the term of Islam architecture the word for tower is ‘minaret’:
- On the Eastern side of the Mosque it located Minaret of Jesus the tallest of the three minarets at 77m, and where the locals believe that this is where Jesus will descend during Judgement Day.
- On the North side of the Mosque is located the Minaret of the Bride, the oldest minaret
- On the South-West corner of the mosque is located the Al Gharbiyya Minaret,
A small structure inside the prayer hall lies the head of John the Baptist, which they found during the excavation for the building of the mosque.
Yes, I understand, that the above information is a bit hard to take in, however, it is because of it’s richness of history and it’s existence up to the present day. My visit to this mosque as well as the whole of Syria, made me want to learn more about the history of Near East as well as to comeback to Syria provided the condition of the country is not as it is today.
If you are interested on my other posts on Syria, check out: I’ve been to Syria
It was 2 years a go that we visited Damascus for a guided tour across Syria (read: The Old City of Damascus). But as we arrived in 2 days ahead of the tour, we managed to see Damascus with our own perception, and this was the best bit, we were picked up by a friend of a friend, who is a local. He owned the only musical shop in the Souq al-Hamadiyya – yes, they were having tea in front of his music shop.
What I liked about the Old City were the alleyways, different on every corner; with it’s own specialty at every turn of the street. Souq al-Hamadiyya for instance, is a broad street and very popular with the locals; it sells anything and everything really, from cheap Chinese products, to local handicraft for interior decor. This is also serves as the popular gate towards the old city, at the end of the Souq, before the great Umayyad Mosque – I will explain more about this mosque next week – stands Temple of Jupiter.
Temple of Jupiter is special because it was built by the Romans, at the beginning of the rule of Augustus (Roman Emperor) and completed during the rule of Constatius. It was during this time that Damascus was famous as the city of Jupiter.
What we see in the picture is only part of it, some other parts can be seen as part of the Umayyad Mosque. Like the Old City which has been through different periods of human history, so was this Temple and Mosque. The question is whether it will survive the latest turmoil?
As we moved on from this area, there was this very popular cafe shop, where the locals and the tourists mingle. It didn’t serve food, only coffee or tea, if we wanted food, than we needed to order some where else. Regardless of this, the Damascene think this is the ‘in place’, where you could see people and be seen. Again, I wonder whether this place is still popular now, or even still exists?
Further on from this place, things get more interesting, as to me, this is where the real atmosphere started. The streets widen and narrow with an infinite variation, from a chaotic communal road to an order of small palace.
The Old City is divided into four distinct quarters that roughly align with the fame of the seven gates around the Old City. Souq Al-Hamadiyya is the vibrant and commercial district of the Old City. Bab Sharqi was the gate towards the Christian Quarter , where we found the House of Ananias, the Roman Arch and St. Paul’s Chapel. Bab Salam is the entrance gate if you want to go to Shia’s Mosque of Sayyida Ruqqaya, the most impressively ornate mosque I’ve ever seen. Bab Musala is a gate for the Jewish Quarter, and home to the cities artisan community.
Inside these quarters dotted around are historic places, schools, Hamam, interesting places and palaces turned into museums, like Khan As’ad Pasha, turned into a private museum.
That was a really exciting experience that I wish a could return and visit all those places that I missed last time….
If you are interested in my other posts about Syria, check out: I’ve been to SYRIA
When I landed in Doha for the first time back in 2005, I was surprise that I had to take the stairs and walk on the runway to the bus to take me to the airport arrival lounge and the immigration counter. Then I learned that for 2006 Asian Games, Qatar would use a new airport, for the athletes. As the time got nearer to the event, I wondered when would this new airport open. Then I heard the gossip that ‘they’ couldn’t make it for the Asian Games and instead they would open a temporary arrival lounge especially for the Asian Games athletes and officials.
Now, more than six years on, Qatar is still working on the New Doha International Airport, or rather the Hamad International Airport; but it’s now very close to the opening time, at least the authority is sort of announcing the soft opening date, the 1st of April 2013. The question is whether this is for real or an April Fool?
I think this is now for real, as now I am part of the team involved in the construction of this new airport, at least I know how far it is to go for the finishing of the airport and at least I know and I can see how the airport will look like; as six years ago, I never knew anything about the design or the shape of the airport.
Did I mention that it’s only a soft opening? As only 10 airlines will fly from HIA on the 1st of April, namely:
- Air Arabia,
- Air India Express,
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines,
- Iran Air,
- Nepal Airlines,
- Pakistan International Airline,
- RAK Airways,
- Syrian Air
- Yemen Airways,
So for the frequent flyers with Qatar Airways and from the other bigger airlines, they will have to wait until at least the end of the year when officially the airport will be fully operated.
Here are some interesting facts about the new airport as of Doha News which said:
“There are 41 contact gates in the main passenger terminal – Those gates have some 88 Passenger Loading Bridges. That means no more long bus rides to and from the planes – passengers can just walk down the bridge onto the plane, like at many other airports in the world. Also, the terminal itself should be able to handle 28 million people a year.”
Does this now mean a competition between 3 airports in the region? (namely Abu Dhabi Airport, Dubai Airport and Doha Airport) and is there a need to have 3 hubs in the region? I just try to compare the competition of airports in the ‘80s between Amsterdam and Frankfurt airport, when both tried to be the European air hub, but never fulfilled it’s expectation.
“Terminal 1 will have 150 passenger check-in stations. That includes 14 check-in booths for First Class and 16 check-in desks for Business Class. Ideally that also means no waiting in long lines, although that remains to be seen.”
I guess Qatar is gearing up toward the 2022 World Cup (which is 9 years away from now) when they will expect an influx of tourists and football fans. But between now and then, I can’t see any possibility that Qatar will have so many visitors except business people and expats. I wonder what will happen after the World Cup? I just remember the building of new airports in Barcelona, just for the Olympic Games, but after that, the airport was too empty….
“The next phase of the airport will handle 50 million passengers a year. Dubbed Phase 3A, and due to be completed by 2017, it will include the development of an expansion of Terminal 1 and the addition of a training center, rail station, car rental facilities, a “sea rescue” harbor and a multi-story parking structure.”
Well, I don’t think I will be there by the time the next terminal opens. Will I still be a Seasoned Traveler and using Qatar Airways to see the “New” terminal…? Who knows…..