Pix and Grids 2 – Dubai and Oman

Here’s a link to the Dubai/Oman crossword puzzle on JeffsPuzzles.com

The Burj Khalifa

In January 2020 – the tail end of the Before Times – I went on a cruise from Dubai to Singapore with several family members. The next several posts in this series stem from that trip.

Dubai:  Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, a 160-story rocket ship of a building seen as a symbol of the region’s affluence and aspirations.  It’s surrounded by dozens of slender, graceful, occasionally fanciful towers; the city is an architectural joy to behold.  Unfortunately, capturing that joy on film is difficult, largely because Dubai bears a pall of exhaust from the sea of cars inundating what used to be desert. 

View from a lower observation deck on the Burj Khalifa

Alas, vehicular traffic on the streets is as nothing compared to the human traffic slogging its way to the elevators in the Burj Khalifa.  After waiting close to two hours to get to the observation deck, the press of people posing for selfies at the top made it almost impossible to get near the windows.  (This was before COVID; I don’t know if the situation has changed.)

Dubai from the upper observation deck. Black and white is courtesy of the smog, not any settings on the camera

Oman:  Docking at Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat, Oman, one could be forgiven for assuming the ship had made landfall on Tatooine.  The port is surrounded by harsh, rocky hills and broiled by a (single, alas) fierce sun, and many of the city’s inhabitants wear robes.  OK, no more Star Wars references, other than to note that one of the early tribes inhabiting what is now Oman actually were called Jedis.

Grand Mosque, Muscat
Interior of the Grand Mosque

Oman is a conservative Islamic sultanate, but it is far from forbidding.  The people are warm and helpful, and the city of Muscat is attractive and welcoming.  If Dubai is aggressively modern, Muscat is modernly traditional:  many structures appear brand new, but they incorporate centuries-old Islamic design elements such as pointed arches and colorful, intricate, geometric inlays.  And where Dubai’s buildings soar above the desert, Muscat enforces a strict height limit, so the gleaming white houses and immaculate beige public buildings contrast strikingly with the barren landscape.

Mutrah Souq

We visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, strolled through the Mutrah Souq, and visited the National Museum, which houses a small but excellent collection of crafts, maps, armor, and exhibits about Oman’s history and culture. 

Portuguese fort outside the Al Alam Palace

Aside from the lack of pod races (OK, one last Star Wars allusion), visiting Oman was an enjoyable, enlightening experience. 

Building shaped like a Frankincense burner

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