We drove for some distance along Abu Dhabi's Corniche or waterfront road as it formed a sweeping curve on the western side of the main Abu Dhabi island.
The Corniche, which was extended between 2002 and 2003 when land was reclaimed from the sea, included cycle paths, fountains and park areas. We later discovered that parts of the Corniche had significant deposits of sand, with people using the area as a public beach.
Some of the more architecturally interesting buildings opposite the Corniche on our way back to the hotel in downtown Abu Dhabi:
The beautiful beach area on the Corniche:
The Emirates Palace Hotel was designed to show the beauty of Arabian culture. Traditional decor was used inside mostly in silver, gold, marble and glass mosaics. I read that the chandeliers were made of Swarovski crystal.
The penthouse floor had six Rulers' Suites which are reserved exclusively for dignitaries, such as royalty. The hotel's other domes
were also about 280 feet high!
Some of the items available for sale in the hotel gift shop - think they were just a little out of our price range, though!
In partnership with the Emirates' branch of the Make A Wish Foundation, the hotel had established Golden Hearts "to raise money to create special moments for children in the UAE with life-threatening medical conditions." Guests could donate just $4 on top of purchasing one of the hotel's exclusive selection of desserts to make a wish come true.
This enormous flagpole was visible for miles around. Erected in 2001, it was formerly claimed to be the tallest unsupported flagpole in the world at 404 feet tall. It has since been surpassed by a number of even taller flagpoles elsewhere.
Christmas was obviously also a big reason to celebrate at the mall which seemed like any other mega US mall.
Briton Kevin Dean who designed much of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the focus of the previous post, had also designed for the very popular British Marks&Spencer store.
Zachary: This is for you as you're such a Chili's fan! I was only able to recognize the ad because of its telltale logo at the top!
Where, oh where, is our white car? It was hard to find when there were 12 other white cars in a row!
We headed next to Al Wathba about 30 miles east of Abu Dhabi trying to find the location of the annual Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival located somewhere in the vicinity! After driving around for more than an hour in the desert trying to find the Festival, we came across signs directing us to the Camel Race Track.
I don't think I'll soon forget what the UAE flag looks like as they were everywhere!
I almost laughed when I noticed the Lost and Found sign right inside the entrance as all the black abaya-clad women looked identical to me.
In the US and most Western countries, there are pony rides. Th equivalent in the Middle East was camel rides!
Sadou is one of the traditional handicrafts that was famous among women living in the desert areas though some still practice it. Women practice it by weaving wool from goats and camels which are widely available in their desert habitat. Sadou has different uses but is mainly used to build tents that were used by Bedouins as a shelter and movable houses. Usually Sadou crafting is dependent on each women's style and her taste so she can express her traditions through a variety of bright colors and shapes which represent different Bedouin symbols.
One of the most popular traditional dances across the UAE is the Ayyalah. Performed with at least 25 men, and often many more, it is a particularly theatrical dance that depicts victory in battle. The men form two lines and face each other with arms linked. To the beat of drums, they brandish sticks, recite poems and move back and forth.
The 2016 festival featured 17 mostly Muslim countries and cultures to present their own heritage, including cuisine, traditional crafts and musical performances.
We walked around the Kingdom of Morocco space first where a musical performance was taking place.
Racine's is the name of a famous restaurant here in Denver.
Anyone feel for camel burgers? You could have had one here!
We only spent a little time wandering around the Bosnia and Herzegovina exhibits since we'd been already spent time in the country.
It was getting late and we still had a long drive back to the hotel, even if we didn't get hopelessly lost this time, so we made time just for the camel rodeo. I don't think it was called a camel rodeo but it sure appeared to resemble some of the rodeo events we've been to over the years!
The Festival ended with fireworks close to 11 pm. We were both glad that we hadn't given up trying to find where it was held as it had been so much fun. We both really liked the fact that the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival was held for Emiratis and wasn't a tourist show.