Etisalat junction, Sanaiya, Al Ain

Here is a video I filmed at the junction in Sanaiya with the impressive Etisalat building on one corner, in which I slowly turn 360 degrees, pointing out different landmarks.

You may find it helpful to download the maps I’ve created so you can orient yourself as you watch the video…

There’s a companion video to this here which does a 360-degree spin at the Clock Tower ’roundabout’ which you may wish to check out.

Clock Tower ‘Roundabout’, Al Ain

For me, the Clock Tower junction, which used to be a roundabout until 2-3 years ago (I hear), represents the centre of Al Ain.

Here’s a short video I created which shows the landmarks at each corner of this junction….

I say in the video that the Etisalat building is 200 yards/metres south of this junction: it’s more like half a mile!

Also, if you go west from this junction, I mention the Deer Roundabout, but you’ll also see Al Jahli Park on your left and after that the Thai Massage for ladies building on the left. On the other side of the roundabout is the Rotana Hotel.

There is a companion video here which does a 360-degree spin at the Sanaiya junction which you may wish to check out.

Burj Khalifa / Khalifa Tower, Dubai

The Khalifa Tower, the tallest building in the world, was renamed the Burj Khalifa before it opened.

You’ll need to book your trip up the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world at least 48 hours before you plan to go. If you just turn up on the day, you may not get a free slot until 9pm at night or later.

We booked for a Friday at 11.30am, having left Al Ain at 9.15am to ensure we got there on time.

We handed over our tickets at 11.20 which gave us time to look at the very impressive interactive displays before we went the security queue to enter the Burj Khalifa itself.

We came out again at 12.45pm – nearly an hour and a half later. You may take a little less time than this.

Here is a video which is spread over 3 large screens you’ll see as you queue for the lift to ascend to the 130th floor – which takes all of 60 seconds. I swallowed hard about 10 times to ease the pressure on my ears as we flew up at somewhere approaching the speed of sound. Okay, maybe not quite that fast.

The video lasts about 3 minutes, so this film I captured shows about half of it to give you a flavour. I thought it was beautifully put together…

This is a movie of the digital telescopes you can use at the top: they are free to play with, though it says on a ground floor sign that you have to pay…

Here are some photos.

An inspiring message on the wall as you wait to enter the Burj Khalifa…


The 4 video screens as you queue for the elevator…


The digital telescopes you can use for free…


The Dubai Mall from above…


The amazing Dubai Fountain…


Looking south east (I think!)…


We pointed out to the boys that slightly to the right of centre in this next photo is where we love to go swimming when we come to Dubai, on the public beach at Jumeirah…


This one shows 2 of the most famous hotels in Dubai: the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab Hotel. The Atlantis Hotel is behind these, but hidden by the haze…

Burj Al Arab

As you enter the building you and your family will be photographed against a green screen. At the top, you’ll be asked if you want photos taken of you with the landscape behind. At the end of the tour you’ll be offered these photos for a price higher than we were willing to pay! You can also get the images on a memory stick too (ideal if you want to email them to friends and family back home). I sneaked a snap of the framed ‘green screen’ shot with evening panorama added behind, in a leather-effect frame/folder. The image is a bit distorted as I took it at a slight angle…


What I didn’t photograph are some of the excellent mulitmedia displays, miniature models used for the wind tunnels, and the short but excellent video interviews with people who worked on this once-in-a-lifetime project for the architects and builders.

All in all, a fab trip, worth the money.

Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Mall

This is a quick post I’ll add to one day!…

In the Dubai Mall, not only is there the enormous aquarium, but you can go behind it to see sea creatures and penguins, and have some great close encounters!

Your children will probably be as amazed by these archer fish as we were… 

And we could pick up the horse shoe crabs and feel their wiggly ‘feet’!

This is a very short video of the garden eels in one tank…

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sohar, Oman

This terrific hotel is only a 65-minute drive from the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain – so it’s much closer than Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a quick getaway.

You can get across the border 2 ways…

  • by driving past the Hilton, heading east
  • via the Hili border crossing

Don’t try crossing at the border next to the Lulu Hypermarket as we did – unless you’re a GCC resident!

The hotel is very new, and has real 5-star appeal. We got a deal including half-price massage: and this was an excellent 60-minute session.

Here is a snap of it…


…and this one is what it looks like as you drive from Al Ain: the hotel is up on a little hill on your left, about 25 minutes from the final border crossing…


The hotel is 25 minutes from the sea, which was fine by us: we just drove down the next day to check it out.

You may find the price here to be cheaper than the Sohar Beach Hotel which is on the coast, but that is a little ‘tired’ by all accounts, and not quite what we want from a hotel.

I didn’t take many photos there. But you can play table tennis…


…and snooker…


…and there are 4 lanes for 10-pin bowling….


Just a short video from the pool area…

Music and dance at the House Of Arts, Al Ain


If you or your child would love to learn to play a musical instrument or learn to dance, then the House Of Arts in Al Ain may be just what you’re looking for.

Run by director, Gabriele (“Gaby”) Malzahn (pictured right), it offers classes in piano, violin, guitar, voice, cello and theory.

To register, you are asked to fill in the Registration form and pay a non-refundable registration fee of Dhs 120 per family.

Before registering for individual or group music lessons, Gaby and her team ask that you call them to set up an appointment for an initial interview. They will conduct a short informal assessment and then discuss various issues related to enrolment in House of Arts classes, and will check the timetable for available slots.

No formal interviews are needed for other lessons.

Here’s a video tour of this wonderful place which I filmed recently…

To give you a guide to pricing, 15 lessons during term time, at 30 minutes per weekly individual lesson, cost 1,200AED, which works out at 80AED (£14) a lesson.

Various dance lessons are available at the House of Arts. They are conducted in cooperation with the Dubai Ballet Centre.

Available classes are:

  • Baby Ballet (age 2 1/2-3 1/2)
  • Prep Class (age 3-4)
  • Pre Primary Ballet (age 5+)
  • Primary Ballet (age 6/7)
  • Grade 1 Ballet (age 7+)
  • Grade 2 Ballet (age 9+)
  • Grade 3 Ballet (age 10+)
  • Grade 5 Ballet (age 12+)
  • Grade 7 Ballet (age 14+)


  • Junior Tap (age 6-8)
  • Junior Modern (age 7-10)
  • Beginner Tap seniors (age 12+)
  • Advanced Tap seniors (age 12+)
  • Modern/Jazz dance (age 12+)


  • Hip Hop junior (age 6+)
  • Hip Hop senior (age 10+)


  • Jewelery classes (adults)
  • Drum lessons (6+)
  • Fabric painting
  • Vinyasa Yoga with Deborah (6-7pm, 5 classes for 180AED)

…and they also have Kindermusik for young children, and Music For Little Mozarts (group piano lessons for young children with a maximum of 8 in a group).

Gaby has done an amazing job setting this place up and developing it into a hive of activity: when I chatted with her, I discovered a woman who came across as committed, passionate and full of ideas – a real asset to the town: “the cultural centre of Al Ain” as my friend Jake says. The walls are covered in hundreds of picture frames showing children playing instruments or dancing. The studio for dance and yoga is excellent with floor to ceiling mirror.

Here’s the outside…


As you go through the front door…


The coffee shop is on the left…


And here’s the coffee shop from the other end of the room…


The reception area with masses of photos of students on the walls going up the stairs…


Jhenny at her desk at reception…


And Anne-Marie too…


Practice rooms…




The dance/yoga studio…


Gaby in her office…


The Kindermusik room…



Opening hours are Sunday to Wednesday: 10am to 8:30pm; Saturday and Thursday: 10am to 6:30pm.

You can ring the House of Arts on 03 762 6651, or get on their mailing list by [email protected] You can visit their website here for more info on timings and prices, where you’ll find a map to help you get there. (They’re opposite the Al Ain Hospital.)

If you’re still not clear where it is from the map there, then here are my directions for you…

Imagine driving past the enormous Lulu Hypermarket, which is on your right. Carry on until you come to a roundabout. You turn right to Dubai, yes? Instead, go across. As you approach the next roundabout, get in the middle lane, so you don’t get filtered right, and go across this roundabout. Take the next road on your right. Turn first right. At the end, turn left. Carry on until you have to go left again – and turn left again. House Of Arts is a few doors down from the dead end, on your left. Have fun!

Al Ain Wildlife Park Bird Show

At 7.30pm at the Al Ain Wildlife Park most evenings, you can watch a 25-minute bird show which is in Arabic and English. The female presenters are terrific, using just the right language to engage and inform children.

I shot the following video to give you a little idea what the show is like. It’s pretty poor footage, and the battery ran out on my camera as I filmed this show, so I missed some of the best bits. But I have included this video anyway…

By the way, the birds in the background at the end of the video are ibis.


Dubai Fountain

Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain is a magnificent fountain display which lasts for about 3 minutes and takes place every half hour from about 4pm at weekends (Thursday to Saturday) and from 6pm during the week (Sunday to Wednesday), continuing until late at night: 10 or 11pm. It is best enjoyed after nightfall.

On the right you can see the sign in the Dubai Mall with the schedule, a photo of the display, and my reflection!

I bumped into Rob, the general manager at the Lulu Hypermarket in Al Ain, a couple of weeks ago, while I was shopping there and we had a great chat. He told me that recently one of his sons and his girlfriend had been over from the UK to visit. So one night Rob booked a table for the 3 of them at a Lebanese restaurant next to the large manmade lake where the fountain is situated. But he didn’t tell them about the upcoming display! So at 8pm the fountain came to life, giving them a delightful surprise as they sat with their drinks, ready to order their food. And they were treated to further displays during the rest of their time there.

Next to the lake is the Khalifa Tower, the largest structure in the world. Here’s a photo I took at 7.30pm one evening…

Khalifa Tower

…and the Lebanese restaurant must be on the left in this photo…

Dubai Mall promenade

This is what the fountains look like from the 140th floor of the Burj Khalifa when we went up there on a different trip to Dubai…


…and you can get an idea of just how many hundreds of jets there must be in the fountain. By the way, the outdoor restaurants we have sat at are on the left side, just outside the Mall. See another article for more on the Mall, and the one on the Burj Khalifa At The Top tour for more photos from up high.

Every half hour features a different song, each with its own unique fountain dance. Some music is Arabic, and some is Western music.

This video I took features music by Sarah Brightman…

This one features Western music, starts slowly, then explodes into life after one minute…

This video I took a different night has Arabic music…


This final video was taken during the day in October. My family and I were sitting outside at 1pm, about to order lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant, when the fountain bursts into life. Our waiter told us that he has worked at the restaurant for 18 months and this was the first time he had ever seen the fountains go off during the day. They went off again half an hour later with an Arabic song, but I didn’t bother filming that. So here’s a video of that first daytime show, featuring the theme music by Elmer Bernstein from the film The Magnificent Seven…

I hope you and your family get as much enjoyment from these displays when you see them live as we have!