InterNations team member Amelie, who works in our Ambassador & Events Team, has recently visited some of “her” expat communities in the Middle East. Here is her travel diary of this amazing trip, so full of cultural experiences, fun, and lots of lovely people…
Having worked together with the Middle East so closely for the last 1.5 years, I decided that it was time to “experience” my Communities in person! I got my friend Claudia on board, booked our flights, bought sunscreen and off we flew to our first destination Dubai! End of March was supposed to be the best time to travel weather-wise. I fell asleep on the airplane dreaming of a week spoiled with sun and fun!
We landed in DXB in the early morning hours and took a cab to our hotel. Thanks to our VIP Status that was granted to us by my Ambassador Gay, we were able to check in early and were welcomed with a tray of fruits & pastry. Sipping our complimentary sparkling date soda, our vacation time had officially begun!
We spent the first day by the pool and experiencing what all tourists do in Dubai: a world of shopping. Our hotel was directly by the Mall of the Emirates. The size of the mall was impressive and the indoor Ski resort even more so. When it comes to entertainment, Dubai plays in superlatives. The Dubai Mall features an aquarium and an ice rink! Right next to the mall, we found ourselves in front of the highest tower worldwide, the Burj Khalifa. The tower was originally supposed to be named Burj Dubai, because it was mainly financed by the royal family of Dubai. Due to the financial crisis, they ran out of funds and the Sheikh Chalifa from Abu Dhabi stepped in. The tower was then completed and renamed in gratitude!
After the first days of beach and shopping fun, our travel schedule lead us further to the Sultanate of Oman. My Ambassador for the InterNations Muscat expat Community, Moamen Mansour had invited us to see and experience the “real Middle East”. With a warm welcome, he picked us up from the airport and spent the afternoon showing us around. The rocky coastline and the landscape in general were very impressive! The sun was shining and we decided spontaneously to do a quick boat tour. One of the fishermen was quickly hired and took us on a tour through the turquoise water and bizarre cliffs! The afternoon was rounded off with Arabic Coffee and later with drinks in the beautiful beach setting of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. After sunset, we were ready for an Arabic dinner feast with Tabouleh, stuffed bread, hummus and chicken skewers. Happily stuffed, we then went for cocktails to one of the regular InterNations venues where I met a few Community members.
Our next day was all planned out: A friend of Moamen, Rebecca, who happened to also be an InterNations member took us on a tour in the mountains to one of the Wadis. While driving along the bumpy road, sheep and camels flew by on the side of the road. The highlight was to jump into the clear fresh water and swim the heat away – this is something that I will never forget! Coming back to Muscat for a late lunch, Moamen introduced me to Maud whom I gladly welcomed onboard the InterNations Ambassadors Family! The day ended with a stroll through the souk stocking up on spices and scarves as souvenirs. In the late evening and in fear of an impending sandstorm we sadly had to travel back to Dubai – a big and warm “Shukran” to Moamen for having us!
The two next days were very much dedicated to the InterNations Dubai Expat Community. I met up with my new Ambassador team for an Italian Dinner. It was great to finally meet Gay, Nina, Michael and Philipp in person! With a community size of over 8000 members, I had recently extended the team there. The team had even arranged an official event for me to attend on the next day. The event took place on the rooftop of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel with a stunning view on the riverbank facing the Burj al Arab. My Ambassadors Celine from Ras Al-Khaimah and Shannon & Loretta from Abu Dhabi had followed my invitation and came to attend the event. It was a fun night full of networking & connecting. With lots of good memories, we flew out and back to Germany that very night. We will for sure be back with more time and more countries on our list!
All photos courtesy of Amelie Dinges.