John and I ventured out to find it and were pleasantly surprised to find signs leading the way!
Hmmmmm, when we got to this point we weren't exactly sure which direction to go, but we werestill quite happy there were signs!
I asked the gentleman at the gate why it was called "Miracle Garden". I was expecting an interesting story, however, he told me that it is just "a park for the people"! All righty then!
And for those of you thatcan't read English, here it is in Arabic! Oh wait, I guess if you're here reading this, you can read English, right? Oh well, I think it looks cool in Arabic!
The moment we walked through the gates, we were mesmerized!A wall of flowers encircled the entire park. To think that a bazillion (I do not exaggerate!) flowers were planted out in thedesert.....unbelievable! I can't even begin to imagine how much water it will take to keep all the flowers alive once the temperature starts to rise! And rise it will -- that's a promise!
If a tiny pedal floated to the ground (gasp!), there was a worker armed and ready to scoop it right up!
I couldn't help asking myself over and over again: "How do you deadhead geraniums in a circle this large?" If anyone knows the secret, pray tell! I'm dying to know!
If you're thinking right about now that you may simply faint from over-exposure to flower pictures, don't worry! I'm posting only an iota of those taken! You are so very welcome!
And last, but certainly not least....His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Neyhan (Peace Be Upon Him)!
I believe he would be mighty proud of this desert phenomenon, don't you?
MIRACLE GARDEN -- if you live in Dubai or are visiting, it's definitely a must see!
All I can say is THANK GOODNESS we went with an experienced Bu Qtair patron! Sue told us to bring our own eating utensils and paper towelsand someone volunteered to bring a salad and someone volunteered a dessert. (Thanks Gill and Jane!)
Sue said that on weekends people wait in a long line, so we met at 6:30PM on a Wednesday night......PERFECT!!
Here it is, the infamous Bu Qtair!
And here is the outside seating area - simply delightful! Luckily, John and I got there early enough to save a table for eight!
This kind gentleman helped me figure out how many fish it would take to feed our group.And yes, all the fish were caught earlier in the day!
The "salad" that is served is simply a plate full of cut up cabbage. So, if you want something fancier, be sure to bring your own!
The fish is pan fried in spicy seasonings --okay, okay, so it may not be the healthiest way to prepare fish but it certainly was a delicious way!
The guys working there are a lot of fun and got a kick out of the American lady (that would be me) who wouldn't stop taking pictures!
On the very rare occasion of inclement weather in Dubai (what, exactly, is that?), there are tables for dining inside!
But we were lucky to have perfect temps for eating outside!
We ate our way through two medium fish, one small fish, and two kilos of schrimp!
And it was absolutely delicious!!
Oh wait! We can't forget the bread -- it sure looked funny but it was oh so good!
That evening the "Grungy Gourmet Club" was formed! Next stop: The Smiling BKK!!!
We left bright and early on a Monday morning! Five AWA ladies, packed (and I mean packed like sardines) in a SUV, went cruising deepinto the desert. I drove and really can't tell you how we got to where we were going! It was hazy and foggy and the roads were absolutely jam packed, so it was slow going.
What I do know is that we drove to Abu Dhabi and then headed into the desert for about another hour or so. (Did I mention that we could barely see a thing?)
Where were we going? To the Sweihan Camel Festival, of course! (In case you can't read this sign, I'm absolutely sure it says "Sweihan Camel Festival"!
Yvonne had gotten on the website and had contacted an English Translator, Mohammed, who agreed to meet us at the Souk (market) area and show us around.By some small miracle we found the Souk, which was a row of tents in which the merchants (and their families) slept, with their wares cheerfully displayed on tables along the dirt road.Oh yea, and camels walked in and out and all around the "shops"!
For a moment or two we simply forgot about meeting Mohammed (oops) and dug right into the shopping mode! Believe it or not, there were treasures to be found!
We were told there might not be any facilities at the festival, so to come prepared! Luckily, there were clean bathrooms or perhaps we would have made this purchase!!(OMG!)
Let me set the stage....five white American ladies, out in the middle of the desert with a bunch of kandoora wearing Arab men and boys. And, believe it or not, they made us feel right at home. In fact, they treated us like royalty! Here I am standing in front of the Camel Beauty Contestcontestants -- do I stick out like a sore thumb or what!
We finally met up with Mohammed, who graciously showed us around and explained what was going on. (Thanks Mohammed!)
Before long we spotted some cameramen focusing their lenses on someone....and Mohammed told us it was His Highness Sheikh Sutan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan! He is the second son of the beloved and now deceased Sheikh Zayed who was the President and founder of the United Arab Emirates!
Here he is, the gentleman in the brown kandoora.
The next thing I knew, we were SHAKING HIS HAND! OMG! HOW COOL IS THAT?
Reporters came and talked to us and wanted our impressions of the camel festival! There were rows of white SUVs parked outside the fencing. We learned that these were prizes that were awarded for the various competitions that would be held throughout the week long festival! (Only in the UAE!)
Mohammed led us to a tent where we sat waiting for the judging of the Camel Beauty Contest. We were offered Arabic coffee and chocolates by a young man who spoke wonderful English!
We had about an hour to kill, before the winners were announced, so we decided to drive around and am I glad we did! Camels were being loaded into trucks and you're never going to believe how they do this! Here, see for yourselves!!
This baby camel was peacefully sitting all alone minding its own business.
And all of a sudden a couple of guys picked it up and carried it (ranting and raving) to a nearby truck!
This black Momma camel was not a happy camper when she was being prepared to be loaded into a truck. And her little baby wasn't one bit happy either!
We headed back to the tent to see who won the Camel Beauty Contest and found wewere not alone!
This is the trophy that would be awarded tothe winning "beauty" -- and don't forget a new SUV as well!!
Finally and at last, the winning camel was announced! Shogun came in number one, and man, was she a beauty!
They doused her with henna and decorated herwith scarves!
Shogun's owners actually let ushold the trophyand pose with herl!
The schedule that we had pulled off the internetlisted a "camel auction" and a "camel milking competition"to be held later in the day.However, as is often the case here, the milking competition was held before our arrival,and the camel auction was cancelled that day!
So off we went to find a place for a cozy spot to lay our our wonderful buffet lunch! (I'm telling you, we packed enough for an army!)
Then it was time to head back to the Souk for some more shopping! There was lots of camel bling to look at!
And, of course, some Super Camel Racing Mix to buy!
Lots of bartering was done with this burqa wearing vendor!
One family from Oman invited us into their tentand served us coffee!
They had two beautiful young daughters withtheir eyeslined in kohl.
Katie found an old Oud -- and it quickly became the "bargain of the day"!
The weather all day was perfect after the fog and hazeburned off in the morning!So during our ride home we got to see thegorgeous sand dunes and, of course,more camels!
We packed apples and carrots and got them tostop for a bite or two! (Yvonne got a bite too -- a camel bite, that is! It was an accident folks, it really was! Luckily she lived to tell the story!)
A great big THANKS to everyone at the Sweihan Camel Festival that made us feel so welcome! And THANKS also to Mohammed for helping us figure it all out!