Tag Archives: Dubai

Camel Race Day

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Its arrived!! At long last it is the season for racing. After having trained for close to a year, the camels get their chance to prove themselves.Those who have arrived early are relaxing, its warm, and they know that they will need all their energy for later on, once the racing starts. Others are arriving, all excited, and happy that the time has finally arrived.

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For some of the others, its just a normal day in the desert…..But wait, these are the ones on sale..once the races are over, many of the traders and owners of other camels will come here to inspect them and see if they will fit into, and benefit the herds that they already have.

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Back on the race-track, its not yet time for the races to start, and there are some that have come just to add a bit of flavor to the races. They do a leisurely lap on one of the tracks,  as if sampling what it would be like to race on it some day.

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OK, things are warming up now, suddenly the place has turned very active and businesslike. Announcements are made, and the herders start moving the camels towards the start pits. It is interesting to watch, because the animals are nervous, and anxious to get it over and done…slowly and reluctantly, they all make their ways through the gates and towards the start line.

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After a lot of coaxing and pushing, the camels are finally in their places and are waiting for the barrier to be raised in order to display their prowess and speed achieved over the past year.

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And then, without any warning the barrier is raised, and they are off……..

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It is a spectacle well worth watching. The dedication shown by the herders, the love between the owners and their animals, the entire festival with traditional tents, cultural dances and campfires, it is almost too good to be true. If you are ever in the Middle East during Camel Festival time (it generally happens between December and March), this is one event that you should witness.

 

 

At the Desert

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It is always an adventure going to the desert…..the very thought of being able to be there with the huge sand dunes, experience the strong wind blowing, listen to the sounds of nature, and have life slow down a bit ….the experience is soothing and rather priceless!!

Firstly you have absolutely no idea what you will encounter, there is always something happening there, you just have to be able to find it.

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The Camel herders are perhaps one of the more common sights that you will come across as you start venturing into the desert.  Being able to capture a picture of them just waking their herd of Camel, or against the backdrop of the large dunes is very satisfying, (although it would be a whole lot better of there were’nt so many tyre tracks on the dunes…that’s man announcing his presence there too).

SONY DSCSome others prefer to watch the sun go down with a birds eye view of the desert. It does make for some spectacular viewing, and must have been as challenging for them to make the trip up there (and down later on in the dark), as it would be satisfying for them to just sit there and watch the sun sink into the golden dunes.

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The light slowly slips away, another day has passed. Its time to bid farewell to these dunes, and get ready for the long drive back home.

 

Fast and Furious

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Fancy an active morning? Then head down to the Dubai Motor Cross Race Track in Jebel Ali and get your fill of the action.

It starts slowly, the bikers arrive with their vehicles, the wardens get the final instructions, the organizers are busy with last minute details, and the track looks calm and peaceful. Then all of a sudden there is a roar of engines as the track bursts into a flurry of activity; all the riders looking for a lead in the compettion. The competitors fly high into the air over the sand, land back in a cloud of dust, and continue making their way at high speed in a sea of flying sand.

The brightly coloured bikes, the striking colours of the riding gear, and the high speed at which it all happens makes capturing this on camera rather challenging for us as well. You have to make sure that you are well out of the way of the track, and once you have decided on a spot, it is best to sit there and shoot your pictures. You need to plan in advance, if not, you could probably have a whole race pass you by, and you will get left with little or no pictures, becasue of the fast pace. There is hardly any time to think.

Get up early and make the trip, its well worth it!

Music for the Soul

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If you love music, and are in Dubai, then one of the things that you have to do this February is to attend an evening of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival.  There will be 4 main gigs over the two weekends, (this time one of the artists being featured is none other than Carlos Santana), and 5 days at the Jazz Garden with reputed artists from all over the globe.

The atmosphere is just beyond description, you have to be there to actually take it all in. The music transforms you to another planet, as the artists encourage you (all the audience) to join in and have a good time. After a long hard days work, all the grinding through the traffic, one cannot ask for a better relaxation therapy than to spend an evening at the Jazz Festival.

If you need more information on this, go to their website at www.dubaijazzfest.com and you will get all details related to the event.

Its an evening that you will  not regret…do mark the dates in your diary.

 

The Competitive Edge

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This is a picture made at the Fazza International Basketball Tournament held in Dubai for the Physically Handicapped Athletes. In most ways, I guess the picture says it all. There is a fierce determination to win, the athletes are restricted to their wheelchairs, but that’s about it! They are as competitive as any other athlete you would see anywhere. The game is fast, there is a lot of bumping, nudging and blocking that goes on, in order to maintain possession of the ball, and to score as many baskets as possible. There is also a lot of cheering from their team mates who are on the sidelines, so overall a nice exciting event.

Every now and then one of these athletes fall or get knocked off their chairs, and the game stops immediately; not by the refree, but by the players themselves! There is a rush towards the fallen athlete by the  players from both teams,- to help him back into his seat, displaying a level of sportmanship that seems to be dwindling in today’s world. As soon as he is strapped back into his seat, its back to business for all.

Its a good event to photograph; the game is fast, and if you use a slow shutter speed on your camera, you could create some very interesting shots that depict movement/motion.

All in a Day’s Work

All in a day's work

 

Very often we tend to ignore the day-to-day happenings around us; seeing how busy we all are with our meetings, schedules and appointments. Unfortunately, we fail to realise that by doing this, we are slowly doing away with our past habits and ways of life,  and are now moving into a new way of living. This is why it is so important to preserve the cultural and behavioral habits of our surroundings.

Above is a picture of the trainers walking their camels in the morning, getting them used to the race track. This is something that happens every morning in the areas close to the Camel Race track in Dubai, and it has become such that most of the people that pass by, do not even glance towards the camels and their trainers. Interestingly, we also see a number of tyre tracks in the sand, the desert no longer belongs to the “ship of the desert” !

While modernization and progress is something that we all try to achieve in our lives, it is equally important to remember our roots, and try and strike a balance between the two.

Riding the Waves

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Bored? Nothing to do? Go down to the beach and join in the action ! One of the more popular sports now catching on is Kite Surfing. It looks a lot of fun, and I am sure that it is as well, but it takes a good deal of practice and hard work to be able to really fly over the waves like you see some of the more experienced surfers doing. You first need to know how to control the kite, and that takes a lot of energy, and practice; and doing this on the shore can be a bit embarrassing, especially if the wind is strong. But once you have got the knack of it, its a lot of fun, and a real cool way to spend the weekend.

If you are not really into active sport, but still want to catch up on all the fun and excitement, just get over to the beach with your camera, and capture all the action as it happens in front of you.

 

Rowing for Glory

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Very often while making pictures we are undecided as to whether we should use a wider angle and capture all of the action at the same time, or if we should chose one subject and zoom in close to get maximum detail out of it. A difficult choice to make, but we don’t generally get a second chance especially with the action shots, so plan in advance what you would like to focus on before you take the shot.

This was taken at the Dragon boat Festival held at the Festival City in Dubai earlier this year. It was a warm day, but not very bright; slightly hazy, and very humid. Taking pictures was a little challenging, because the sweat kept pouring down our faces, and burning our eyes. The atmosphere though was great. There were many teams participating, and they all had their own set of supporters to cheer them on. Good music added to the fun.

As the day wore on, and the better teams prevailed, it was easy to see how the determination and teamwork came together to help them achieve their success. I found this picture interesting because in spite of all the noise and confusion around them, this set of athletes had only one goal in mind….to row their way to glory! To me it tells a story, remain focused, look ahead, work hard, and you will achieve your goal.

If your pictures are able to tell a tell a story, they capture the imagination of those who look at them, and create a thought process in the viewers mind. Look for situations where you are able to “tell a story” through your pictures; it will make you a better photographer.

 

The Dubai Creek

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Khor Dubai (Dubai Creek) is the local name for the saltwater creek that separates Dubai into two main sections – Bur Dubai and Deira Dubai.  It is of great significance to the UAE, because it was here that trading first started between Dubai and traders from India and Africa, – as early as the beginning of the 20th Century. Although not deep enough for large vessels to enter, this creek became the first harbour that Dubai had. Dubai’s “Pearl Industry”  which formed a major section of the country’s economy was based on the trading that happened here.

Since then, this creek has had several changes, it has been dredged to accomodate larger vessel, and is today a major hub for the Dhow traffic that carries almost all forms of cargo, and Personal Effects from Dubai to the neighbouring countries. With the introduction of major ports like Port Rashid, Port Saeed and Jebel Ali, the significance of this route has diminished, but it still remains an important port for the Dhow traffic.

Today the Dubai side of the creek hosts the bustling Textile market and the Museum, while the Deira side has the traditional Spice market, the Gold Souq, the Dhow harbour, several impressive buildings, and a busy trading centre slightly inland.

The easiest, and probably the most enjoyable way, to cross the creek is by the “Abra”, – a traditional wooden craft, powered by an engine. It has a sunshade to protect you from the heat of the day, but thats about it !  You have to sit on a small raised platform in the middle of the Abra, as it makes it way across the creek. There are two points on either side of the creek that are connected via the Abra’s, and this mode of transportation is used by thousands of commuters daily.

The best time however to visit the creek is in the evening. Just as the sun is about to go down, take a stroll along the quay, and you see a flurry of activity as people hurry to get back home, and prepare for the next day. If you are patient enough, you get the whole creek turning a deep blue, reflecting the colours of the sky, as the day slowly turns into night, marking the end of another day.

 

 

 

 

 

The Spice Market

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A visit to the traditional spice market (or “Souq”, as it is called in Arabic, meaning “Market”) in Dubai is sure to leave you with a few memories that you will long remember.

Situated beside the Dubai Creek, this market has been here for a very long time. The market itself comprises of several narrow alleys paved with cobblestones. The pillars that hold the roof of the market are made of wood and have traditional lanterns suspended on them. There are several restored wind towers in this market which helps circulate the air, – the scents from the spices can at times be a little strong! The area is generally crowded and is a bustle of activity. There are local traders vying for the best bargains, while on the other hand there are scores of eager tourists/visitors trying to get the best experiences out of their visit to this market. There are several “free lance” porters with their traditional trolleys/handcarts,  transporting the goods from the stores to the trucks, or the nearby launches, for onward transportation.

The stores in the Spice Souq sell a large variety of fragrances and spices, Frankinsence, dried lemons, rose petals, chillies, and many herbs used in Arabic and South Asian food. Whilst the main attraction in this market is the large variety of spices that are available,  this is not the only commodity sold here. Walk past the first alley, and you will find utensils, glassware, foodstuff, textiles, tableware, rugs and plastic goods. There is also a huge variety of incense burners, henna kits, saffron and shisha pipes that you can choose from.

The market is not too large, but it gives you a fair idea as to how business is conducted here in the traditional manner. While shopping here in the summer months can be quite uncomfortable, its a nice market to visit in the cooler months. It is also in very sharp contrast to the posh markets and shopping areas that modern Dubai has to offer.

If you do visit Dubai, this is one of the places you must go to.