After four hard and intense months in Afghanistan, at last they gave me some days of break... In United Arab Emirates we have an airbase... I wonder why don't I go there for a few days and then organize something directly from there?... My good traveller friend Nick reaches me there... P.s. Honestly I could have come back to Italy too... but I was afraid that I wouldn't have come back here anymore, I didn't want to risk! I'm kidding!

 

 

21 october Herat (AFGHANISTAN)

It was weird, last night I barely could not close my eyes... I was almost excited to leave ... after so long  also a departure moves me ...

The Italian  C130 that after a stop in Herat will lead me in the UAE, landed here earlier... I couldn’t have lunch too but it does not matter, what matters is that my break has begun!

While I was taking off I saw all the aprons, the taxiways that I studied and monitored so much and suddenly I felt almost a sense of melancholy to leave Kabul ... Weird!

I land in the UAE capital's military airport. There was a colleague waiting for me that kindly gave me a ride to my hotel ...

I will never forget the special effect that I felt when, after having taken off my camouflage, I took a ride along the great bourgeois avenues whose majestic skyscrapers don’t let you see the sky ... I was, as my colleague said: "euphoric" ...
Apparently four months in Afghanistan have already left their mark ...

At the reception, while I was doing the check in with my two military backpacks on my shoulders and the camouflage shorts cut from a mimetic I felt like a Vietnam veteran who was coming back home ...

As in the American TV serie "Over There" the first thing I did after I came in the room was filling the bath tub ... a sea of foam and hot water ...
I got immersed slowly thinking that sometimes heaven existed ...
I relaxed only twenty minutes but I was ready...

Shortly after I was already in a taxi inbound the airport to pick up my friend Nick arriving from Doha.

[Nick]: "Here I am in Abu Dhabi. It’s weird flying alone, arriving in a new city without knowing how you will get to your hotel at midnight ... luckily Mark was waiting for me!
Up early tomorrow morning and visit to Abu Dhabi, in the evening departure to Dubai. Back to the conquest of the Middle East! "

 

22 october Abu Dhabi (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

The great mosque in the capital. The one that the Emirates had planned  to be even larger than that of Mecca provoking the protests of the Saudi people that led to the downsizing the initial majestic draft...
We tried to reach it by bus, at the ridiculous price of 20 dirhams (20 euro cents), but three quarters of an hour later, noting that there was still a life to our destination because we stopped every 30 seconds, we jumped aboard a taxi that soon brought us to the sight of this great wonder!

The experience of the bus surprised me because I would never imagine there was an entrance reserved for women and one for men, and that half bus was reserved for women... here there is a great respect for women, you notice it everywhere because they have priority and reserved seats wherever...

The mosque, "Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan" is very picturesque ... to be able to get inside we had to dress white robes and turban ...
Inside there was nothing left to chance, expensive marble everywhere, mosaics, finely decorated...

While we were going away a large Mercedes driven by a UAE guy in white tunic and turban red stopped next to us… He asks us if we need a ride ... I explained that we were going to the opposite side of the town and ask him how much he wanted to take us there ...
He laughs and says he does not want anything ... We accept.

The kind Ibrahim turns to be a great friend, not only he brings us around for a couple of hours but when we ask him to visit the prestigious Emirates Palace, he parks just outside the main hall while a long line of butlers look at us puzzled, he even manages to make us get a look inside. This building is famous because it is the hotel where all the Hollywood stars or politicians stay... Inside: all  marble and there were also the Formula One machines on display in a showroom ...
Along some corridors were exposed antiques of Egyptian and Chinese time...

Until the discovery of oil this was a poor, desert region inhabited by shepherds and fishermen ...

Our lucky day does not end: we know a Somali girl: Sofia, she works there as a hostess and secretly showed us  the private side reserved to guests only, a private beach on board an electric car, one of those used in the fields Golf...

[Nick]: "As you wander around these huge environments of the hotel I think that you can live these experiences only travelling... It’s difficult to understand what motivates a guy like Ibrahim to load two people who doesn’t know along the road till the other side of the city and doing  the city tour guide and asked nothing in return!
Meet Mark for a new trip gave me an idea of complicity that I had a little bit lost ... Me, like him,  really needed this journey...

In order to have a rest we decide to visit one of the great Mall;  almost all the girls wear long black robes there, often they leave only a glimpse for the eyes, those curious and inquisitive eyes fascinated me ...

 

 

23 october Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

The Abu Dhabi-Dubai trip, although very economical, via bus, it was quite hard ...
Nearly four hours, roads that although seven lines were super busy!

The first impact of this Middle East New York:  skyscrapers and concrete everywhere ... The Burj Dubai, the tallest in the world with its 700 meters high and 160 floors ...

We decide to spend the evening wandering around inside the Mall of Emirates, according to them the largest mall in the world, so large that contains within it a real ski slope!



Dubai so far seems to be a collection of malls, skyscrapers and mosques where the Emirates people, such as Qatar ones, scratched their bellies all day long and all work is performed by unskilled people from all over Asia!

24 october Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

Morning around the neighborhood "Deira". We visit an area that the Emirates have tried to maintain in its original state, ancient, but in my opinion they did not succeed.

From there on board a vessel "dhow" we crossed the river and reached the area of the souq.
Characteristic the one of the gold, each display cabinet bracelets, rings and necklaces in industrial quantities!
We tried to be away  from the classic Dubai, the one of the skyscrapers and banks, and we ended up in a Arabic Bombay! There were only Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis around us!

It 's been funny  seeing Muslims leaving the mosque ... each recovered his pair of slippers and pad wrapped under his arm, quietly walked away from the place of prayer!

It’s afternoon when we decide to reach the "Burj Al Arab” hotel, the legendary seven stars also known as "the sails"...

Inside might be even wonderful, just think that visitors have to book days in advance and the tour costs 50 euros per person! But outside is nothing special.
A little disappointed we decide that is time to relax!
Pool, sauna, gym! In the sauna we meet Nelson, a  27 year-old Indian computer engineer who works here ...

We organize for a stroll in the evening ... then a drink in a pub that reminded me so much Cartagena: Western surrounded by prostitutes (African, Russian, Filipino ...)

 

 

 

25 october Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

[Nick]: "Morning again dedicated to regenerate ourselves in our hotel! Pool again with  tan for me, reading time Mark.

I did not like Dubai  though I'm happy to have been here because every place is worth a visit! "

I still remember when in the post office in Doha, Qatar, the clerk told me that she was from the Sultanate of Oman ... I looked at her admiringly!

 

After six hours by bus from Dubai we reach the Omani capital!
Controls at the border have been very stressful! I was a bit scared when they started to check every single bag... I was afraid that from my bag  some of my camouflage uniform could have gone out and who knows how they would have considered that... They are always Arabic!

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