Posted by Kanga.
It has been a wet winter. The proof is in the grass sprouting up from the sands.
It’s a regular camel banquet.
There are even flowers.
Posted by Kanga.
It is time once again for the Sharjah International Book Fair. It is even larger this year.
We dropped in to see a demonstration of digital artwork by our friend, Ashraf Ghori.
In addition to miles of books, there were some traditional dance demonstrations.
The book fair is on through Saturday November 17th. We highly recommend it. Wear your best walking shoes and eat a hearty meal, you’ll need your strength.
Posted by Kanga.
Our local vacation included a visit to the Sharjah Archaeology Museum.
The museum presents the history of Sharjah from the stone age up to 611 A.D. The museum is nicely arranged, fully bilingual, and multi-media. An audio tour is available and worthwhile.
Each time period includes a diorama showing a typical abode.
It is always amazing to see how delicate the gold work was in early times.
There are many petroglyphs in the Hajar Mountains. The stones develop a red pateena. Chipping this red layer off is a fairly easy way to leave behind art. The above image is a bull tied to a post under a crescent moon. The crescent moon is a common image in area petroglyphs.
These ancient metal bracelets are very similar to those used not too long ago.
The two parts of this sculpture of a man holding a bird were found on two separate occasions and reunited here.
Mother of Pearl gathered along with pearls was used in these carvings.
These gold decorations were amazingly small.
We recommend the museum. It is very well done, very educational, and well worth your time.
Posted by Kanga.
Yesterday, we ventured to the Sharjah’s Arabia’s Wildlife Centre. It is located between Sharjah and Dhaid. The centre is part of the Sharjah Desert Park which also includes a children’s farm (we’re assuming this is a petting zoo) and a natural history & botanical museum. Entrance to the park is 15 AED for adults ($4.00 US).
Photography is strictly forbidden in the wildlife center, so all you will get in this post is this picture of camels crossing the road which we encountered on the way there.
We highly recommend the wildlife center. It is very well designed and most of the animals were visible and active. Included are animals of all kinds native to different areas of Arabia, not just the U.A.E. – snakes, geckos, lizards, frogs, mice, rats, gerbils, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, scorpions, foxes, wolves, wildcats, sand cats, jackals, porcupines, hedgehogs, honey badgers, gazelles, ibexes, oryxes, ostriches, flamingos, pelicans, owls, bats, and so much more. If only I could have used my camera, I would have so many desert hare pictures – bunnies everywhere!
On our way out, we passed the big animal enclosures. Starting with the baboons. It was feeding time, so they were quite busy. The next enclosure had desert wolves, who can look over the pit separating the enclosures and see the baboons. They were pacing up and down undoubtedly thinking “those baboons look tasty.” Next door to the wolves were striped hyenas also pacing up and down looking at the wolves thinking “those wolves look tasty.” Next to them were the cheetahs. If the cheetahs don’t fancy a hyena meal, they can also see an enclosure of gazelles. I’ve never been so close to a cheetah, separated only by glass. And, last, but not least, came the leopard. He, being the king of all, was just chillin’ out.
This is definitely a value deal. Give yourself plenty of time. The exhibits are extensive and you’ll want to stop and watch the active animals. One little Egyptian Spiny Mouse had a grub and was being chased mercilessly by her roommates. I hope she got to eat it in peace, eventually.
Posted by Kanga.
DaddyBird and I spent a very pleasant Valentine’s evening seeing some of the Sharjah Light Festival sights. It was an evening well spent – that’s an understatement. We started at Al Qasbah.
There are two displays. One is an amusing laser show. The other is a beautiful celebration of the UAE and it’s 40 year anniversary.
Camels travelled the length of the building.
Date palms appeared.
I particularly liked the Trompe L’Oeil effect when parts of the building moved in and out as if it were a chest of drawers.
Next, we went to the Hisn Fort where we saw things from a falcon’s point of view.
Refreshing garden scenes.
When we drove by the Central Souk, I said “It’s on fire!” thinking that it was another projected light illusion. NO! It was decorated in flaming pots. Fire, fire everywhere. The adjoining park was filled with flaming sculptures, water fountains, and avant garde music.
Here was a fountain that DaddyBird chose not to put his fingers in. Wise, considering that the water was steaming by the time it reached the bottom. The displays in the park were amazing. Some were tall chimneys that were glowing red because the fire inside was so hot.
We continued on to the Maghfira Mosque. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead by then. It was beautiful.
Don’t take my word for it. If you are in the UAE, get up and go to Sharjah to see this. It ends Friday, so you must hurry.
Posted by Kanga.
This episode is about Wadi Al Helo, which is actually part of the Sharjah emirate, not Fujairah, but was part of our road trip. (Alternate spellings include Hilo, Helou, Halou)
We’ve driven through Wadi Al Helo several times, because it is on the Sharjah-Kalba road, but this time we actually got off the road to take a closer look.
Wadi Al Helo has a long history of habitation back to the early bronze age and is an archaeological site. In recent years, there has been some major work done as evidenced by at least three hillsides that have been carved out to form terraces where modern houses have been built.
We drove up onto one of these terraces and found exactly what we expected, a pleasant neighborhood with a mosque.
There are several government buildings in Wadi Al Helo, but we did not see any retail businesses. There must be at least one grocery, but we did not come across it.
Below the terraces, in the valley, are farms and palm groves.
At the end of an incredibly long road…
…lined with colleges of assorted sizes and subjects…
Lies a college, which shall remain nameless, who considered me for a librarian position, which they didn’t offer and I wouldn’t have accepted. It was the right decision. It is a very large institution and the faculty live in campus housing. I am very glad we did not end up in that bubble. We are so happy to be living in the heart of the city with the wide variety of humanity.
Below is the mosque of this campus. Notice the men in traditional local garb.
Here’s a similar shot seconds later. Notice the female students in Western garb, not considered modest by local standards (too much bare skin and shapeliness).
We are glad to be in Dubai and I am happy with my workplace. We ended up at the right place. My college has a little bit of a bubble effect, but I leave it at the end of the day and head into the city. We have to make our own way in dealing with red tape, licenses, identity cards, etc., but we came here for the adventure. I was attending a library conference today and talking to another librarian who has been in the country only a little longer than I. She asked where i lived and asked how I like it. Apparently, my answer was too glowing. She was baffled that I would love it so much. We were interrupted by someone else, so I didn’t get to explain. I think many come here for the good salary, but not for the adventure. The salary is very helpful and it did figure into our decision to come here, but we are REALLY here for the adventure. So far, it has not disappointed.
So, following our exploration of the Naboodah house, we got back in the car and headed northeast again. These pictures are of the Sharjah coast line, sort of. There are three teardrop shaped bays. Here you can see the oil drilling structures in the background.
Similar to Dubai Creek, there are dhows and piles of cargo being shipped to India or other areas of the Arabian Gulf.
I’m not sure if this sign was in Sharjah or Ajman, but I thought it was interesting that we were on Sharq street. I’m easily amused and entertained. The houses in the background are referred to as villas. Here, you live in either a villa or an apartment. They don’t use the word “house.” The villas always have a wall around the perimeter of the property. Seems a little secretive, but it makes for a neat appearance and you don’t have to be concerned with whether the neighbor keeps his yard nice. I would have said “mows his lawn,” but that’s not common here.
Welcome to the House of the family Naboodah. This is part of the Sharjah Heritage Center. It is a restored house of a wealthy family.
The house is a series of rooms that surround an open courtyard. There is a partial second floor and walkway all around the top.
The extended family lived here and each of the doors above lead to a bedroom for each of the sons. There was also a game room for the children, a kitchen, a storeroom/pantry. I’m not sure why the toilet was upstairs, but it was.
Majlis seating is basically cushions and pillows on the floor. (Majlis = parlor or living room — where men would gather to shoot the breeze, drink coffee and smoke shisha). It was odd to see a wooden bed frame with the mattress up off the floor (just like a Western bed) with majlis seating down on the floor. (Sorry that I don’t have pictures of that. You’ll have to imagine it.)
(By the way, shisha is a very fruity tobacco smoked with a waterpipe.)
These are the lovely lattice works inside the rooms. These are on the top of inner walls just above eye level and provide ventilation between rooms. They are made out of gypsum.